I realised it's been a while since I wrote about Japan - and Google Statistics tells me people love it when I write about Japan. I didn't do it because I was pretty home-sick for crazy island nation #2, but I've decided to dedicate each Sunday post to Japan from now on. Let's start with the end!

Well, with my last real day spent travelling in Japan (not eating and drinking and shopping in Osaka) was spent in Kyushuu, where I took a little day trip from Fukuoka to Yoshinogari Historical Park in Saga prefecture.

Now, Japan is a country that likes to hide it's past, especially if it's about people who didn't live in proper houses and had no cell phones, and didn't even have swords or nice kimonos. Not even kanji (oh, I would LOVE a kanji-free Japan).

you're not in Osaka anymore, Dorothy!
Yoshinogari, which is located in the middle of nowhere of rural Saga (which is worth a trip for it's stunning landscape and being so far away from what most people consider Japan to be like), was home to a large settlement of the Yayoi, one of Japan's two main ancestral groups. The park is barely visited by foreigners, but I was surprised that their website, their map and leaflets as well as the signage throughout and to the park (you get off the train in the middle of rice paddies, about a kilometer from the park entrance) were in perfect English - much better than anything I've seen in museums in Tokyo or Osaka, or Kyoto's tourist sites.

The ladies there spoke no English whatsoever, but they still  welcomed this foreign girl in friendly Japanese manner and insisted I wear a silly straw hat (it was early September, the end of summer in Southern Japan).
too much sun or just my "oh no I have to leave tomorrow" face?!
Yayoi people relaxing - not sure who's the man and who's the woman...

Yayoi houses - doors were only 1,30m high. Ouch.
The site is very impressive - they re-built the entire village and you do indeed learn a lot about the Yayoi and their culture, and also about the origins of Shinto. They also have daily courses where they teach you how to make Yayoi-style jewellery, dress like a Yayoi and so on - these seemed to be geared more towards kids, so I just walked around for a while. Even if you have zero interest in culture or history, it's a big, beautiful park to spend the day in!

And if you have an interest in Japanese culture and history, but you think there is no way you'll be in Kyushuu anytime soon, check out their website which has lots of great information about the Yayoi - I suggest you start with the trivia section.


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