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Jomonism and Manga: Japanese Contemporary Art inspired by Prehistory

×We are reviewing our Exhibitions programme and will update this page when we can.


The Wiltshire Museum and English Heritage are working on exhibitions in 2020 that are looking at different aspects of the links between Japanese prehistory, contemporary art and stone circles. The partnerships that lie behind these ground-breaking exhibitions have been developed by Professor Simon Kaner of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Culture (SISJAC). It is hoped that both exhibitions will form part of the UK-Japan Season of Culture. In the meantime we are part of the Online Jomon Festival, in partnership with the Centre for Heritage Studies at the University of Cambridge and the Sainsbury Institute.

For a number of years, SIJAC has been working with the University of Tokyo to bring an exchange group of Japanese students to the UK, teamed with a group of students from a range of UK universities. A key element of the programme has been studying the management of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site with visits to the Wiltshire Museum and the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, run by English Heritage.

Jomonism and Manga: Wiltshire Museum

We are planning an exhibition that will open at the 2020 Summer solstice and will run through the period of the Tokyo Olympiad until September. We will be working with the Umataka Jomon Museum and the Niigata Prefectural Museum with and exchange loan programme. We are planning to borrow a prehistoric Jomon ‘flame’ pot and in return will be lending a Beaker, Collared Urn and a Food Vessel to be the centrepiece of an exhibition at the Umtaka Jomon Museum in Nagaoka.

Stonehenge and Japan: Stonehenge Visitor Centre

English Heritage are working on ideas for an exhibition on Stonehenge and Japan that will be focussed on the similarities and differences between stone circles in the UK and Japan and also tracing the link made by the work of William Gowland. He developed his interest in archaeology in Japan while he was working as a mining engineer between 1872 and 1888 and is called the father of Japanese archaeology. He returned to England and was invited to re-erect a fallen sarsen stone and to undertake archaeological excavation and recording of the work. The exhibition at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre is planned to run from September 2020 for a year. The exhibition will help build links with the nomination of 17 Jomon archaeological sites as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Partnership Visit

The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation generously supported a visit to Japan by a team from the UK to help further develop the partnerships built by the SISJAC Exchange Programme. The team was:-

  • Sarah Simmonds, Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site Partnership Manager
  • Susan Greaney, Senior Properties Historian, English Heritage
  • Bethan Stanley, Senior Collections Conservator, English Heritage
  • Mel Cousins, Interpretation Manager, Stonehenge, English Heritage
  • Jessica Cooney-Williams, Curator, English Heritage
  • David Dawson, Director, Wiltshire Museum

We were accompanied on our visit by -

  • Professor Simon Kaner (SISJAC Director)
  • Professor Junzo Uchiyama (SISJAC Handa Jomon Archaeology Fellow)
  • Dr Yasuyuki Yoshida  (former  SISJAC Handa Jomon Archaeology Fellow and specialist in Jomon
    ornaments and contemporary art inspired by Jomon)
  • Mr Corey Noxon, a PhD student at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, working on Jomon settlement patterns.

Partnership visit

Jomon Japan partnership visit – day 1 Tokyo

Day 1 – Wednesday 23 October After a long flight from London, we woke up in our hotel fronting the river in Tokyo. The day

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Jomon Japan partnership visit – day 2 Tamagawa

Day 2 - Thursday 24 October Heading north to visit Neolithic sites  We missed the train that we were supposed to catch (the Tokyo rush

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Jomon Japan day 3 Oyu and Isedotai stone circles

Day 3 – Friday 25 October The day started with bright sun and the colours of the autumn leaves were stunning. A morning bath was

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Jomon Japan partnership visit – day 4 Komakino stone circle and Aomori

Day 4 – Saturday 26 October Woke up early and had a hot bath in the public baths attached to the hotel. We drove through

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Jomon Japan partnership visit – day 5 Sannai-Maruyama

Day 5 – Sunday 27 October We began the day by meeting the Mr Okada, Director of the Jomon-Japan World Heritage Site nomination office, based

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Jomon Japan partnership visit – day 6 Niigata

Day 6 – Monday 28 October An early start and off to Nagoaka, in the Niigata Province towards the west. This was a long 5

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Jomon Japan partnership visit – day 7 Tokyo and home …

Day 7 Tuesday 29 October 2019 We left Nagaoka for Tokyo, but not before there was a chance to see the town hall, designed by

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Copyright: Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
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