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Oldest primitive agriculture and vegetational environments in Japan


In Japan, shifting agriculture as part of a hunting and gathering strategy was generally thought to have started during the Middle Jomon period (5,000–4,000 BP)1–4. We present here evidence of primitive agricultural activities at least 1,600 years earlier than this date. At the Ubuka bog on the coast of the Sea of Japan in southwestern Honshu (34°29′ N, 131°35′ E, 390 m altitude) buck-wheat cultivation dates back to as early as 6,600 BP in the Early Jomon period (7,000–5,000 BP). The warm-temperate climatic regime in that period supported the growth of Podocarpus, Cyclobalanopsis, Ilex crenata/I. serrata and Viscum album var. coloratum. Slash-and-burn agriculture was intensified 2,000 BP and rice cultivation was introduced 1,500 BP.

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Tsukada, M., Sugita, S. & Tsukada, Y. Oldest primitive agriculture and vegetational environments in Japan. Nature 322, 632–634 (1986).

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