Memory of Jomon Period

| Ken Sakamura |


There is no question that academic materials are important to museums. Digitalization is by no means a technology that renders actual items unnecessary, and it does not confront exhibits of actual items as an alternative. Rather, the digital museum concept espouses the concept that the fusion of virtual museums comprising information with real museums comprising actual items is important to 21st century museums.

For example, if a copy with more complete information about an exhibit is stored in a digital archive, this acts as a plus in terms of long-term storage of the original materials, by reducing the necessity of the original materials. In addition, by using computers to search via networks the abundant information in digital archives, it is possible to locate the targeted actual materials quickly and efficiently. This lends great significance to the effective utilization of materials.

In order to present this concept of using a computer to support exhibits of actual items, in this exhibition we are focusing on the Jomon Period, for which there is a wealth of materials at the University of Tokyo. The University of Tokyo has a wealth of materials about the Jomon Period, represented by the Yamanouchi Collection and the Collections of Morse from the shell mounds of Omori. At the same time, it is possible to present diverse samples linked to diverse academic fields on the axis of Jomon. This makes it a theme that enables the University to make the most of its strengths as a comprehensive university, and is the reason why it was chosen. For example, the variety of different scientific techniques used to analyze Jomon, to compare with other regions in the same period, and the global physical environment during the Jomon Period, as well as the positioning of Jomon in the long history of Japan, are presented as having mutual relationships based on the axis of Jomon. In addition to obtaining new information from such collaborations, Jomon is a theme capable of a multi-layered exhibition with depth which promotes understanding as a whole, and was regarded as matching the concept of a digital archive in particular.

In order to do so, in the actual Jomon exhibition, we decided to fuse information and actual exhibits to achieve a variety of different display methods and have the audience experience them, thereby showcasing its specific effectiveness. For example, when visitors to the museum put on a head-mounted display, a description is projected in the air to correspond with the exhibit they are viewing, or a light pointer may be used to point to the exhibit, thereby calling up the corresponding voice commentary to the headphones, or the ID obtained upon admission to the museum may allow visitors to access the Internet upon their return home, thereby enabling them to obtain more detailed information about the exhibits they saw during their visit. These new methods will provide museum visitors with a totally new experience.

Additionally, in order to display the concept of a distributed museum, in which multiple museums around the world are linked with an ultra high-speed line, making it function as if it were one museum, the decision was made to simultaneously stage an exhibition based on the axis of Jomon and titled Memory of Jomon Period at the National Museum of Japanese History, and in doing so conduct an experiment concerning the connection of a distributed museum. Furthermore, linkups will be created with Tokoro Ruins in Hokkaido and Okinawa International University where excavation is currently under way, allowing visitors to observe in real time, as if they were really there, with the help of telemanipulation technology. This was a distributed connection experiment with a new concept.

With regard to the achievement of this exhibition centering on the axis of Jomon, I would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to Professor Keiji Imamura from the Department of Studies in Humanities and Society, and Professor Toyohiro Nishimoto from the National Museum of Japanese History for their devoted efforts.