Exhibition guide

A. Naumann Elephants and the People of Lake Nojiri

Naumann Elephant (life size reconstructed statue)
Naumann Elephant (life size reconstructed statue)

The Naumann Elephant is a species of elephant found in Japan and some areas of China. They lived in Japan between 350,000 to 28,000 years ago.

 Fossil researchers and artists cooperated to reconstruct based on the fossils excavated at Lake Nojiri.
・Length from the tusk to the tail: Approximately 6m
・Height to the shoulder: Approximately 2.8m

Irish elk (life size statue)
Irish elk (life size statue)

Together with the Naumann Elephant, the animal that represents the Ice Age of Japan is the Irish elk.

Because stone and bone tools left by the human beings that lived in the vicinity of Lake Nojiri during the ice age were found together with various fossils, Lake Nojiri is believed to be the hunting site for Naumann Elephants.

Reconstructed based on the fossils excavated at Lake Nojiri.
・ Shoulder Height : Approximately 1.7m

(Tusk of a Naumann Elephant and a horn of an Irish elk)
The 5th excavation nearthed these two f ossils as if t hey snuggled up each other.

Crescent and star
Crescent and star

B. The 90,000 year-long history of Lake Nojiri

 The history of Lake Nojiri during the Ice Age has been worked out in detail by analyzing the fossils of plants, pollen, shellfish, insects, and diatoms.

Even small fossils with sizes less than 1cm are useful in figuring out the environmental conditions of the era.

Insect Fossil (Donacia splendens)
Insect Fossil (Donacia splendens)

Between 54,000 and 38,000 years ago (Japanese Old Stone Age), residents of Lake Nojiri developed a unique culture and used bone tools to hunt Naumann Elephants.

Bone Cleaver (machete-shaped bone tool)

C. Enjoyable excavation at Lake Nojiri

Excavation at Lake Nojiri
Scene of 21st excavation

Excavation of Lake Nojiri started in 1962 and has
continued up until now by enthusiasts throughout Japan.
People of all ages can take part by simply becoming member of the Nojiriko Association.
The fossils and remains exhibited in the museum
have been excavated by such people from all over Japan.

26,000 people have taken part in 21st excavation as of 2016

Fossilized Footprint of a Naumann Elephant
Fossilized Footprint of a Naumann Elephant

D. Experience corner

What does a real fossil feel like? In the experience corner, visitors can touch the fossils of a Naumann Elephant.

Activity Time – this group is making a bone pendant
Why not you try touching a cheek tooth of a Naumann Elephant?
Why not you try touching a cheek tooth of a Naumann Elephant?