Names in this site follow the Japanese custom of family name first.

May 26, 2012

Ancient Rice Paddies - Toro Ruins and Museum, Shizuoka (Museums)

In recent years there have so many great archaeological discoveries in Japan - such as the Yoshinogari site of a Yayoi village in northern Kyushu and the Sannai-Maruyama ruins dating to the Jomon period in Aomori - that the Toro Site in Shizuoka, which was discovered almost 60 years ago, has been obliged to take a backseat. A visit to the site and its museum shows that this is not justified.

Toro Park, Shizuoka
[Model of a Yayoi hut in Toro Park.Photo © Ad Blankestijn]

The Toro Ruins are a late-Yayoi period village, that existed in the third century CE. 60 people were living here and the buildings consisted of twelve pit-dwellings and two grain storehouses. There were also eight hectares of paddy fields. The village was left suddenly, probably after a nearby river flooded the area and covered it with mud. The inhabitants apparently managed to flee, taking only part of their belongings with them. The value of the Toro site is that thanks to the mud slide the whole village was kept intact over the ages, including wooden implements and some wooden building materials.

This Yayoi time capsule can be seen in the museum (on the second floor; the first floor houses some reconstructions of village life). There are utensils made of wood and clay, stone and some of iron. In the early-Yayoi period (from about 300 BCE) rice cultivation and the use of iron and bronze implements had been brought to Japan from the Asian continent. In that respect, it is interesting to note that iron is still rare in this village: hoes, spades and rakes are all made of wood.

Another interesting wooden item are the small planks that were bound under the feet to walk in the paddies: the origin of the Japanese geta. Striking are also a small stool, and a big wooden spoon. It seems as if you have stepped right into Yayoi life.

That life has been reconstructed in the park surrounding the museum, where several Yayoi dwellings and storehouses have been set up. More telling, however, are the round impressions (one meter lower than the modern ground level) of the original Yayoi huts that dot the park.
Address: 5-10-5 Toro, Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka-ken. Tel. 0542-85-0476

Access: By bus from Shizuoka station to Toro-Iseki.

Hours: 9:00-16:30. CL Monday, day after a national holiday, last day of the month, year-end and New Year season.