Who were the First Japanese? | History of Japan 2


The very first people in Japan likely
arrived in 35,000 BC from Sakhalin. There was an ice age at the time so they
probably travelled across a land bridge that existed between Sakhalin and Hokkaido Now just because they were the first
people, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they were the ancestors of the modern Japanese. They could be, or it could be that they arrived, survived for a while, and
then just died off…like Brendan Fraser’s career. Oh Brendan. The ancestors of the modern Japanese
came from two waves of migration. Migration One brought people
who came to be known as the Jomon Migration Two brought the Yayoi. We’ll talk about these people later. We’re still unsure about who made up Migration One. There are two competing theories One theory, based on genetic evidence, claims
that the very first people who came over from Sakhalin in 35,000 BC were indeed
the ancestors of the Japanese. Researchers found that their genes are similar to
the genes of modern Japanese people. A second theory holds
that it was actually a migration from Taiwan and Southeast Asia. People were already living in Okinawa around 30,000 BC. The migrants came over by boat from
Okinawa to Kyushu at around 10,000 BC when the earth was just coming out of
the previous Ice Age. This second theory is based on teeth shape. Did you know that Asians have two patterns of teeth? People from China to North East Asia, the
backside of their upper four front teeth have depressions. They’re shaped like
shovels. They’re also not aligned with the rest of the upper teeth. This teeth pattern is called Sinodonty, but we’ll just call it shovel teeth. People from Southeast Asia and Taiwan to the Philippines and Indonesia have smoother
front teeth that are aligned with the others. This is called Sundadonty, we’ll
call it non shovel teeth. Today, most Japanese have shovel teeth, but in Hokkaido they have non shovel teeth. So the theory posits that a migration must have come from Southeast Asia to Taiwan, the Ryukyu
Islands, and finally to Kyushu at around 10,000 BC. This theory is compelling
because we know that people in Japan after this time had non shovel teeth, and
then there must have been a second migration of shovel teethers who were
more successful, probably because they ate all of the non shovel teethers. No that didn’t happen. The people from the second migration must
have then spread over most of Japan. That’s another reason why this theory is strong,
because we do have a lot of evidence for this second migration. Most researchers agree that
Migration Two happened at around 500 BC. People crossed the waters from Korea to
Kyushu. These were the Yayoi people. They brought with them the practice of rice
farming and quickly became the dominant population in Japan. We’ll discuss these people in a later video. There is a lot of evidence for Migration Two, but
the most interesting I think is the Earwax Study. Yeah that stuff in your ears. There are two types of earwax: wet and dry. to To see which type you have,
stick a finger in your ear, then pull it out, then put it in your mouth. Mine’s wet. Your earwax type is
determined by your genes. About 85% of Japanese have dry earwax. 15% have wet earwax. In a great example of getting students involved in science, student
teams across 42 Japanese high schools carried out a study. Researchers gave the students nail samples
from people all across Japan. The students extracted the
DNA from the samples and isolated the genes responsible for earwax type. They then created a map of earwax types in Japan. Scientists already knew that the
Jomon people carried the genes for wet earwax, and the Yayoi carried the genes
for dry earwax. The student’s work showed that dry earwax is more
common in western Japan. This reinforced the theory that there was a Migration Two and helped
to show the path that the Yayoi took to spread across Japan. The Yayoi migrated from Korea or China
and then moved east and north replacing most of the Jomon. Again, I don’t want you to think that there were only two migrations into Japan. People were moving back and forth all the time in and out of Japan. It’s just that we believe the modern Japanese are mainly descendants of people from
these two migrations. Before around 10,500 BC is what scientists called
the Paleolithic Period of Japan, or the Stone Age to us stupid people. They were hunter-gatherers back in those days. They moved where the big-game animals were,
such as mammoths and bison. Archaeologists have dug up all kinds of stone tools
that they used. Spear heads, blades, pounding and grinding instruments. There was a huge population increase between 16,000 and 13,000 BC, probably because
the earth was coming out of the last ice age and temperatures rose. People switched to eating more plants, either because all the big-game animals were
dying out or PETA was just founded. This caused people to move less, resulting in
larger and larger settlements. After the Stone Age came the Jomon period,
which lasted from 10,500 BC to 300 BC. The word Jomon means “cord pattern” or
“rope pattern.” The pottery of Jomon people had these markings of twisted cords
which they made by carving patterns on sticks and pressing or rolling them onto
the clay. The patterns were simple at first, then became more elaborate over
time. We’ll talk about the Jomon in the next video, but here’s something
interesting about them. They were probably direct ancestors of Japan’s
indigenous people: the Ainu. You didn’t know Japan at natives, did you? There are not many of them.
Only 25,000 officially. They mostly live in Hokkaido. Until recently they had their own separate culture like Native Americans in the
United States. However, today they’ve mostly been absorbed into Japanese culture. The Ainu culture is AWESOME. They clearly look different from other
Japanese, they have wavy hair, lots of body hair, white skin color, and a
different eye shape. After a certain age, men didn’t shave, and contrary to most
Japanese men who have thin facial hair, the Ainu have thick full beards and
mustaches. Think dwarves from Lord of the Rings. Until recently, women had these prominent black tattoos on their face, hands, and forearms. These tattoos were started at a young age and more was added
as a woman grew up. They used a black soot from fireplaces for the black color. A young girl only had a small dot on her upper lip over time the tattoo grew until she
reached maturity. The tattoos were supposed to repel evil spirits and
ensure the woman’s place in the afterlife. They were also associated with marriage and childbirth. Having a completed face
tattoo is how you knew an Ainu woman has reached maturity and is ready for
marriage. The pain from being tattooed was supposed to help women prepare for
the pain of childbirth. This probably did not work very well. We all know now that
the best way to reduce the pain of childbirth is a few glasses of wine. The Ainu’s tattoo use also suggests that the Jomon people thousands of years ago also
had tattoos. Oh yeah, and the Ainu also had pet BEARS. Whaaat? Not lame-arse teddy bears, actual bears! The Ainu worshipped animals as gods and bears were the head
of the gods. They thought that gods came to Earth
in disguise as bears. They sacrificed and ate adult bears because the flesh and fur of the bear
was an offering from a god, and the sacrifice also allowed the god to return home. Bear cubs are treated differently. When they found a cub they brought it
home and took care of it. In some cases, cubs are treated even
better than human children. They were fed human food, people played with them. If the cub did not yet have the teeth to eat food, nursing mothers would breastfeed them. The cub would live like a prince up until it became two or
three years old, then they would be sacrified, to allow the God to return home. Let’s pick this up next time where we’ll talk about the JOMON.

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