When Were the Earliest Hominin Migrations to the Japanese Islands?

  • Kazuto MatsufujiEmail author
Part of the Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology book series (VERT)


In the Japanese islands, no hominin fossil beyond 35 ka has been recovered thus far. Indirect evidence of hominin migration to Honshu before 35 ka is known from only stone artifacts. The earliest stone industries were recovered stratigraphically from two different layers at the Kanedori site in northeast Japan. Both industries are made of hornfels as local raw material. Kanedori IV with large flakes and an irregular biface is dated c. 80 ka by tephrochronology. Kanedori III with small flake tools and a large biface is estimated 67 ka by fission track dating. Such a small flake tool tradition lasted until the appearance of blade technology around 35 ka. The typological and chronological study of Kanedori IV and III suggests that the earliest migration to the Japanese islands was from northeast China.


Tephrochronology Nojiriko-Tategahana Kanedori Small flake industry Edge-polished axe Blade technology Happusan II 



I would like to thank the editors, Christopher Norton and David Braun for inviting me to contribute this paper to the volume. The comments by Christopher Norton, Peter Bleed, Alison Brooks, and others greatly strengthened the quality of this manuscript. They are much appreciated for taking the time and effort. This study owes to a part of Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A) in 2004–2007 by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (No. 16251005). I appreciate to Kyoichi KIKUCHI, Yoshio TAKEDA, Atsushi KURODA, Tohru DANHARA, Mitsuhisa WATANABE, Jun’ichi ITOH, Yoshikatsu NAKAMURA,,Youichi KONDO and Hisao BABA for their academic advices. Figures 15.3-6 were offered by Education School Board of Tono City.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Archaeology Lab, Faculty of LettersDoshisha UniversityKyotoJapan

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