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The Flame Pottery of Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture

This video, titled "Nagaoka City [Wow! Nagaoka] 80 Years Since the Discovery Flame Pots|Sharing Jomon Culture With the World!" (長岡市「ナルホド!ながおか」-~火焔土器発見から80年~ 縄文文化を世界に発信!), was created by "nagaokacity."

The Jomon period flame pots discovered in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture, in the Hokuriku region of Japan, were named after boldly decorated earthenware with four chicken-crowned handles and serrated protrusions, resembling a burning flame.

A replica monument of flame pots was set up in the high speed train concourse of JR Nagaoka Station, and the unveiling ceremony for the flame pots monument was held on January 13, 1987.
Taro Okamoto, who attended the unveiling ceremony, says he had never encountered such an astounding aesthetic.
This can be seen at 0:30 in the video.

Approximately 80 years ago, flame pots were excavated at the Umataka Archeological Site in Sekihara, Nagaoka City in 1936.
It was excavated by archeologists, Kensaburo Kondo and his parents, and later became a nationally designated historic site as the "Umataka and Sanju Inaba Archeological Site" because of the elucidation of the settlement and the discovery of pristine artifacts.

The Mataka Jomon Museum opened in Nagaoka City in 2009 as a museum facility to preserve, exhibit and utilize these materials.
This is the only museum in Japan with the theme of flame pots, and the museum has over 1,000 items on display.
In 2014, the Emperor and Empress of Japan also visited the museum.
This can be seen at 2:46 in the video.

How Flame Pots Were Made

Looking at the designs, it's easy to tell that these are not simple designs. So then how were flame pots made?
Flame-type pottery, including flame pots was used to cook food just like earthenware pots. This is known because they were found to be covered with soot and burnt residue.
There are two classifications for these vessels: flame pots and flame-style pottery. Flame pots were the first vessels to be excavated by Kondo Junsaburo, while "flame-type pottery" is distinguished from similar pottery excavated thereafter.
This is explained from 2:51 in the video by the Chief of the Umataka Jomon Museum.

It is generally believed that flame pots are made by piling up triangles of clay to make jagged edges, and then attaching strings of clay to them and firing them to create unique patterns.
You can see how flame pots are made in detail at 4:35 in the video.

A similar type of earthenware is crown pots, but they have distinctly different rims and handles, and are thought to have been historically different from flame-type pottery.

Sharing Flame Pots With the World

The Shinanogawa Flame Highway Cooperation has been working together with 4 cities and 1 town to promote the adoption of flame pot designs for the Olympic torch stand in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
At the 1964 Olympic Games in Niigata, a flaming earthenware torch stand was used, and it is still standing in the Niigata City Athletics Stadium today.

These activities are widely performed by the Jomon Culture Supporters, an organization that makes 3D images of flame pots and flame-type pottery available to the public, and also holds workshops such as the Nagaoka Pottery Club to publicize their appeal.
In addition, the British Museum in London has a permanent exhibition of flame pots and manholes with motifs of flame-style pottery and famous fireworks shows.

Tokamachi Flame Pots: A National Treasure

Flame-style pottery excavated at the Sasayama Archeological Site in Tokamachi City was recognized as a national treasure in 1999, and is preserved in the Tokamachi City Museum as an important cultural property of Japan, and as deep bowl-shaped pottery excavated from the Sasayama Archeological Site in Niigata Prefecture.

Meanwhile, the story of the flame pots of Nagaoka City, "Flame -Style Pottery of the Shinano River Valley and the Culture of the Snow Country," has been recognized as a Japanese heritage.

Summary of Flame Pots

Did you enjoy learning about ancient Jomon pottery?
The pottery, discovered in Nagaoka City, Niigata, is incredibly beautiful and impressively designed considering when it was made.

This video shows the beauty of the art and the flow of history that attracts many people.
If you like pottery, be sure to visit Nagaoka City!

Written By
Last Updated : Oct. 9, 2020
山本 孝(Takashi Yamamoto)
I've been a writer for seven years. I write articles on travel, food, and history.
Flame Pots – A National Treasure and Cultural Property of Japan! A Look at One of Japan’s Representative Cultural Assets That Has Even Been Displayed in the British Museum!
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