A Window into Prehistoric Japan: Aomori’s Sannai-Maruyama Site

The Sannai-Maruyama Archaeological Site

Pillar-supported structures. © Pixta.

Sannai-Maruyama is an expansive prehistoric site in southwestern Aomori Prefecture dating from the Jōmon period (ca. 10,000 BC–300 BC). Its existence had been known for centuries, but it was only with archeological excavations begun in 1992 that the true extent of the site became apparent. The excavations revealed evidence of human occupation, such as pit dwellings and pillar-supported structures, mounds, and graves of both adults and children, as well as a huge trove of earthenware and stone pots, personal ornaments, and bone and antler artifacts.

Given the historical significance of Sannai-Maruyama, the prefectural government preserved the site in 1994, and in 2000 the Japanese government designated it a special national historical site. Some structures, such as a large pillar-supported structure and a pit dwelling have been reconstructed, giving visitors to the site an idea of life in prehistoric Japan.

The Sanmaru Museum inside the Jōmon Jiyūkan visitor center displays around 1,700 objects found on site, including 500 which have been designated Important Cultural Properties. The visitor center also has a workshop, a restaurant, and other facilities.

Access: From JR Aomori Station, take the Aomori municipal bus for Sannai-Maruyama Iseki-mae and get off at the Sannai-Maruyama Site, an approximately 30-minute ride.

(Banner photo: Reconstructed dwellings at the Sannai-Maruyama site. Courtesy of the Aomori Prefectural Government’s Aptinet Aomori Sightseeing Guide.)

tourism Aomori Tōhoku historic sites