38 exploit the obsidian beds of the Wada Pass, high up in the massif. By the time the village of Tanabatake was well established several of the houses contained stockpiles of obsidian, suggesting that the inhabitants had secured some form of control over the procurement and distribution of this highly sought- after material. During the Middle Jomon Tanabatake flourished as one of many large long- lived Jomon villages in the area, which included Togariishi, Idojiri and one of the earliest, at Akyu, a short distance to the south- west. The settlement at Tanabatake, like so many other Middle Jomon sites across eastern Japan, comprised clusters of buildings, perhaps ten or more occupied at any one time, their floors dug out to create a shallow pit, into which a number of posts were set to support a thatched roof ( fig. 20). Most of the buildings, which had an average floor area of about 5 sq. m, contained a fireplace, often surrounded by riverbed stones; into these was set a small standing stone with a rounded head that some suggest is a phallus. These buildings were probably the homes of family groups. The houses were arranged in an arc- shape around a relatively clear central space; this formed the focal point of the community. It also contained the pit in which the Tanabatake figurine was buried, reflecting the importance of doguto the Jomon people. Towards the end of the occupation of Tanabatake, around 3,500 years ago, the village took on a rather different character. At about this time the climate cooled and the environment around the south- western slopes of Yatsugatake became less productive. This had a major impact on the various communities living on the slopes, who were dependent on the rich harvests that had supported them for so long. Stone monuments began to be constructed in larger numbers, and it seems that particular activities, including doguburial, increased at the site, suggesting that the appeasing of spirits such as ancestors was becoming ever more important. Eventually, however, the settlement of Tanabatake was abandoned in the first part of the Late Jomon period. Exactly what led to these changes is unknown, but most scholars argue that there was a collapse of the societies that had flourished on the slopes through the Middle Jomon. Most of the Jomon sites ( around 80 per cent) that now lie under the modern city of Chino date to the Middle Jomon, and less than 30 per cent were occupied during the Late Jomon. Yet recent investigations have suggested that the region as a whole was not completely abandoned, and that the ' collapse' was not necessarily a sudden event. A number of settlements continued to be occupied. One of these was at Nakappara, one of just a handful of known Late Jomon sites that were occupied for more than a single pottery phase ( figs 21 and 22). In total, twenty- three buildings were excavated at Nakappara, and this again sets this village apart from the majority of Late Jomon sites in the area, which are more often recognized from accumulations of artefacts than from any structures. It is possible that Nakappara took on the role of the large village sites, such as Tanabatake, and perhaps that is why the masked dogufigure was buried there, a reflection of the increased status of its surroundings. Doubtless the slopes of the Yatsugatake volcanic massif have many other buried secrets still to be given up. But the discoveries at Tanabatake and Nakappara have confirmed the region's status as one of the great centres of the Jomon archipelago. As the present book shows, Jomon clay figures mean different things to different people: Jomon foragers themselves, the Edo- period antiquaries who Fig. 21 The site of Nakappara in Nagano prefecture. Even after many settlements were abandoned, Jomon people living on the south- western slopes of Mt Yatsugatake continued to bury occasional dogu masterpieces. Fig. 20 The site of Tanabatake in Nagano prefecture. One of the finest doguknown ( cat. 3) was discovered carefully buried in a pit at the centre of one of the residential areas of this large Middle Jomon settlement.
Fig. 19 The south- western slopes of Mount Yatsugatake in central Honshu, in view of Mt Fuji, were the focus of some of the densest populations of the Middle Jomon. Sites including Tanabatake and Nakappara have produced some of the finest Jomon dogu. Encountering dogu37 resulted in the preservation of two of the most spectacular of all Jomon dogu ( see pp. 44, 51 and 55), and yet despite their physical proximity the circumstances in which they took place were quite different. 26 The south- western slopes of Yatsugatake are shadowed from the north-east by eight craggy peaks of the extinct volcano. To the west are the impressive heights of the Southern Alps; to the south, on a clear day, the unmistakable conical form of Mt Fuji rises above the horizon. On a series of gently sloping terraces, separated by clear streams arising from the area's abundant springs, from the Early Jomon onwards generations of Jomon foragers found an environment in which to construct their villages and raise their families. Food was readily available, from the fish such as salmon and smaller, sweet ayuin the rivers and the wild boar and deer that roamed the slopes, to the nuts, tubers and berries that were reliably produced by the deciduous forests covering the terraces, which also provided ample building materials and firewood. Higher up the slopes were rich deposits of a very important Jomon resource, obsidian. This black glass- like stone, forged in the heat of long- past volcanic eruptions, provided an unparalleled material for making very sharp stone tools. People came from far to