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features that suggest these figurines were used in some sort of fertility
rites. Still other dogû, whose limbs appear to have been deliberately
broken off, were quite likely employed by medicine men for the purpose
of curing ailments of the arms and legs.
The Jòmon period came to an end about 400–300 b.c. as the result of 4 The Emergence of Japanese Civilization Fig. 2 Dogû figurine ( The Metropolitan Museum, Gift of
Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Koizim, 1978) major new cultural influences from the continent. By far the most important of these was wet-rice (paddy field) agriculture, a type of farming
that flourishes in central and south China (the colder climate of north
China is not hospitable to it) and that may have been transmitted almost
simultaneously at this time to both southern Korea and western Japan.2
Three hundred b.c. is historically close to the date (221 b.c.) when the
great civilization of north China, centered on the Yellow River, was unified for the first time by the Ch’in dynasty. It seems possible that impulses from the Ch’in unification, which had been under way for many
years, spread outward to both Korea and Japan and, in the case of the
latter, brought the Yayoi period (ca. 300 b.c.–a.d. 300), so named because of the site in modern Tokyo—Yayoi—where the remains of this
phase of Japanese civilization were first discovered.
Before World War II, it was generally believed that the Yayoi period
was begun by a migration of people from the Asian continent via Korea,
and that the new “Yayoi people,” moving first eastward (to the Kantò
region of Honshu) and then northward, gradually displaced the Jòmon The Emergence of Japanese Civilization 5 people and became the Japanese of historic times. More recently, however, scholars have come to believe that the shift from Jòmon to Yayoi
was essentially cultural: that is, the Jòmon people became the Yayoi
people under influences from China.3 (See the beginning of Chapter 3 for
more remarks about the possible relationship between the Jòmon and
With the introduction of agriculture, the Japanese...
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- Spring '13