Gallery 2

Dawn of Yamagata

Photograph:Haji ware ('Hajiki')   Displays here include stone tools remaining from the people of about 40,000 years ago which were excavated from the Kamiyachi B site in the town of Iide-machi,  and  the Nishinomae ceramic figure (called  "Jōmon no Megami”  which has been  fondly referred to as the  Jōmon "Venus" )  the largest of its kind in Japan, which has been designated an Important Cultural Property. 


Expansion into Dewa Province

 In the beginning of the Nara period, after the birth of the Dewa province  in 712 (Wado 5), colonization proceeded.
 Tools used by the pioneers and relics from ancient farmers are displayed. 


Influence of the Bushi Class

Photograph:Wooden votive tablet ('ema') of Sacred Horse from 'Wakamatsuji' Temple From the late Heian period through the Sengoku period  "Age of Provincial Wars", the Bushi  warrior class lived in fortified residences, governed their local territory, and played a key role in the lives of local people. 

 Displayed are materials representing the life of the Bushi warrior class, and items such as ema votive tablets and a large hammered metal plaque of Buddha's image, which were dedicated to temples and shrines in the territory.


Feudal Administration and Life of Common People

 Around the beginning of the Edo period, most of Yamagata Prefecture was ruled by Mogami Yoshiaki. After the Mogami family was dismissed from power, the area of present day Yamagata Prefecture was divided between the shogunate's territory and the various feudal domains of Yonezawa, Kaminoyama, Yamagata, Tsuruoka and Shinjo.
 Old documents from the Sengoku period (Age of Provincial Wars) to the early Edo period are displayed along with roof tiles and such, excavated from Yamagata castle.

Life in a Castle Town

 Each ruling clan managed its castle town according to its own plans. With a powerful vassal in residence at the castle, the main streets around the castle were lined with shops, areas of the town formed along the lines of the artisans' occupations, and Yamagata prospered as a center of commerce.
 Exhibited are drawings of the castle towns in the prefecture and a commercial business office, along with tools used by the artisans.

Village Life

Photograph:Safflower scrolls

 Yamagata produced commercial crops with rice as its mainstay,  benibana safflowers which became nationally renowned as raw material for dyes and lipstick,  aoso blue flax and silk thread for woven fabric, and urushi lacquer for wax. Mogami safflowers were a luxury good traded in Kyoto, Osaka and Edo at high prices. Aoso blue flax fiber was sent to Nara and the Hokuriku area where it was woven into fabric.

 Tools used in villages and materials related to the benibana safflower industry are displayed.


The Bustle of the Mogami River

 The river Mogami-gawa was the main distribution artery connecting the inland to the port city of Sakata, which was an important transportation route linking the entire country through seafaring cargo ships which sailed the Japan Sea. Rice, safflowers, blue flax (aoso) , tobacco and other special local products were sent to Kyoto, Osaka and Edo, and  salt, sugar, cotton and silk fabrics and Hina dolls were brought back in return.
 Exhibited here are tools and a model of the type of small boat used for shipping on the Mogami River which was derived from cormorant fishing boats (ko-ukai-bune), a panorama model of the Oishida riverside, and drawings of the Mogami River.

Worshippers' Roads to the Three Sacred Mountains

 The Three Sacred Mountains of Dewa (Dewa Sanzan) were regarded as holy mountains from ancient days and attracted people who held strong beliefs in them. In the Edo period, peaking around the ushi year of the Ox in the Japanese zodiac, the area was crowded with people dressed in special white gyōi clothing to make their pilgrimage to the Three Sacred Mountains. They aimed at the summits of these mountains through pilgrimage routes called happou nanakuchi, meaning eight directions and seven entrances, which included routes on land and on the Mogami River. On their way back, they received ofuda prayer cards for family safety and rich harvests.
 Exhibits here include a map of the Three Sacred Mountains (Yudono-san, Gassan and Haguro-san), a portrait picture card of the great monk Tsuno Daishi ( "Great Horned Teacher"), and clothing for the pilgrimage .

Life and Heart of Raising Rice

Photograph:Diorama of the 'Irori' hearth in a farmer's house   Rice growing in Yamagata Prefecture even today epitomizes the incessant, innumerable efforts of farmers. Their hard work and prayers for a rich harvest gave birth to such folk events as the rice planting rituals niwa taue, the rice god festivals tanokami matsuri, and folk entertainment like the rice planting dances taue odori.  
 Displayed here are a diorama of an old farm house with its irori sunken hearth and furnishings like the back pad nisemino  which was used in those days to carry rice on one's back.