Not far from the airport, in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Hakata Ward, sits a small park-like facility. Surrounded by greenery, what looks like a regular park at first glance is actually the Itazuke Ruins—a national historic site where you can learn about the history of Japanese rice culture. A full-scale excavation of the area began in 1950 after Jomon and Yayoi-style pottery were unearthed here.
Surrounded by double V-shaped moats, the site of the Itazuke Ruins is one of Japan’s oldest moat-enclosed villages. Excavations revealed various kinds of pottery and stone tools as well as nearby holes for storing rice. Archaeologists also found a graveyard for people who may have been influential in the village. There are ruins of rice paddies near the village, and the existence of dykes and irrigation channels for diverting water from a nearby river and suggest that the rice cultivation technology of the time was rather advanced.
If you go to the Itazuke Ruins today, you can see recreations of a Yayoi era village and rice paddies, but excavations have revealed even older Jomon era remains beneath them. In other words, the Itazuke Ruins are composite remains spanning multiple time periods. Rice cultivation in Japan is thought to have started in the late Jomon period, and the trace evidence at the Itazuke Ruins make it one of the earliest—if not the earliest—settlements in Japan that cultivated rice.
Today, the site is home to the Itazuke Ruins Park. Items excavated from the site and displays on ancient ways of life are housed in the Itazuke Ruins Yayoi-kan Museum. In the spring and fall, “village festivals” are held to plant and harvest the paddies using old techniques. The Itazuke Ruins offer a rich learning experience, so if your children have to write school reports this summer, why not take them there?