Chigasaki is a fairly young city, especially compared to the millennia of Japanese history. This year marks Chigasaki’s 70th year as a full-fledged city, and in honor of this, Chigasaki Breeze will be running a short series of articles on the history of the land that is now Chigasaki. To start, we will take a look way back to the days before Chigasaki City, before the Samurai, to the very beginning of people living and working in the Chigasaki area. Special thanks to the Chigasaki Cultural Museum for their help in writing this article.
People have lived on the land now known as Chigasaki for a very long time. The first artifacts related to human activity in Chigasaki date back to about 17,000 years ago or more, and the first settlements that are known to archeologists today date from about 3,500 B.C.E. in the late Jomon Era. The Tsutsumi Kaizuka, or shell mound, was designated as a city cultural site in 1992 and the artifacts there give a good look at life in the area in the years B.C.E. First of note, is that the well preserved settlement was large for villages at the time. Agriculture was of course important, but excavations also found a large number of sea shells and fish bones, hence why it is referred to as a shell mound. The residents of Chigasaki have a rich love affair with the beach and the sea, and in the archeology we can see that deep relationship with the ocean goes back thousands of years.
Throughout the Jomon and Kofun periods, most of Japan was covered in small independent chiefdoms and villages. It wasn’t until the rise of the Imperial family that these villages began to be connected together, starting in ancient Yamato Province, in modern day Nara. Recently, the earliest connections between Chigasaki and a centralized Japanese government were found under Chigasaki Hokuryo High School. The remains of an early regional temple, which the Nara government used as local government centers was found beneath the schoolyard. This means that this area was a thriving town and government center in the 7th and 8th Century C.E.
Chigasaki may have reached city status only 70 years ago, but people have been living, working, and thriving in the area for a very long time.
Article from Chiagasaki Breeze #69
Written by Dave Hanschen