“…if this all appears as an article on Tokyo Fox later this year or early next year then it probably means I need a quick “filler” post!”
As soon as I tweeted those words above back in September I thought I may regret them as that Twitter thread about the Omori Shell Mounds made me realise this place was perhaps deserving of a post on Tokyo Fox as there is very limited information on the net about this little part of Shinagawa ward. It would be remiss of me to just let the pictures and information I have on the place go to waste.
These shell mounds lie a short distance (500 metres) to the north of the station and are part of Omori Kaizuka Iseki Gardens. I have been curious about them for a while now so when I did a cover day at a school in the area recently I decided to check them out to discover what they actually are!
Upon entering the park, there is a map of the site and near to that is a sign stating that it is one of Shinagawa’s one hundred scenic spots but given that pretty much every temple and shrine in the ward seems to have made the cut, it is a less than impressive list. Omori Shell Mounds though are definitely worthy of inclusion though.
The shell mounds are basically an ancient dump site, and various objects other than shells have been discovered here such as animal bones, stone implements and the Jōmon form of pottery which came to be used to refer to the early period of Japanese history when such a style was produced. Many of these exhibits are on display at the nearby Shinagawa History Museum lying a further 500 metres to the north.
These mounds were discovered in 1877 by an American zoologist called Dr. Edward Sylvester Morse and are considered to be the birthplace of Japanese archaeology. His achievements have been commemorated with an area named after him called Morse Memorial Corner which contains a bust of the Doctor.
Portland in the state of Maine (USA) was the birthplace of Dr. Morse and a monument tells of the sister-city agreement it has with Shinagawa City.
Walk through an arch to the right of Jōmon Plaza and you’ll find yourself at the Shell Mound Exhibition booth which incorporates an actual shell mound.
There is a signboard giving details (in Japanese only) about the prehistoric Jōmon Period (14,000-400 BC) of Japanese history which I had never heard of until my Summer trip to Kizukuri Station; home to a giant iconic 17.3 metre clay humanoid/animal creation on the exterior of the station.
Back much closer to the station is another shell mound monument of sorts which is hidden away down a narrow path between two buildings. It takes you right down beside the train tracks where a stone monument is dedicated to the discovery made by Dr. Morse.
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