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Where did Japanese come from? ~The Roots of the Japanese~

39148 Views 444 Replies 71 Participants Last post by  RyukyuRhymer
The Japanese people are said to be very homogeneous. Culturally, yes.
But geneticaly, too..?

The answer is "No".

Japan has historically accepted many different tribes and as a result the Japanese people have many different genetic traits.

An excerpt from The Japan Times:
However, the Emperor would not be the only Japanese with "foreign" blood.

This was made apparent through "An Interdisciplinary Study of the Origins of the Japanese Peoples and Cultures," a 65 million yen research project carried out with government cooperation, culminating in 2001 with an NHK documentary and book series entitled, "The Japanese: The Long Journey."

Researchers appearing on the program conducted a morphological study of the facial features of 1,047 randomly selected Japanese. Of them, 35.1 percent were found to fit the northern Asian type, commonly found in the people of northern China; 22 percent were categorized as Korean Peninsula; 28.3 percent, southern China; 13.3 percent Indochina; and 5.1 percent fitted the facial features typical of the southern Pacific region.

Akira Tagaya, a researcher quoted in the NHK book series, observed that "Japan, which stretches a great distance from north to south, probably has the largest variety of faces in Asia."

Genetic and archaeological analysis indicates that Japan has been a grand melting pot of peoples who came here from Siberia via the Ice Age landbridge through Sakhalin; from northern and southern Asia via the Korean Peninsula; and by boat from Indochina and Polynesia via the Ryukyu archipelago.

The high percentage of "northern Asian" faces is mostly a legacy of the large-scale immigration from the mainland through Korea, and the subsequent population explosion that began some 2,300 years ago in the early Yayoi Period.

You will see more details on NHK's documentary:

Looking for the Genetic Roots of the Japanese(1/5)

Looking for the Genetic Roots of the Japanese(2/5)

Looking for the Genetic Roots of the Japanese(3/5)

Looking for the Genetic Roots of the Japanese(4/5)

Looking for the Genetic Roots of the Japanese(5/5)

The above video 3/5 shows Ainu are genetically identical to the native South Latin American people.
The video 5/5 shows a shocking fact that only 4.8% of the Japanese genetic sequence is unique. That means Japanese are mostly mix of many different races in Asia.

Because Japan is a melting pot of Asia, the Japanese people's roots are very different, but what makes them believe they are totally homogeneous, is their culture, custom, and mentality. :)
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Here is a collection of different types of faces of Japanese celebrities only for the comparison purpose. All of them are so-called "pure" Japanese with no known foreign ancestry.

You will see they have different facial traits, and many of them have traits from different regions of China. And some have traits of South East/West Asian faces.

The photos above are only those of celebrities, and ordinary Japanese people have more diverse facial traits.
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Some people even say Japanese are mixed not with only other East/South East Asian people, but also with Ancient Israeli people:

1/3 Japanese are Jewish? Eng/Sub 日本とユダヤ

2/3 Japanese are Jewish? Eng/Sub 日本とユダヤ

3/3 Japanese are Jewish? Eng/Sub 日本とユダヤ

Personally, I take this theory with a grain of salt.:cheers:
What do you think?
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The Japanese people are said to be very homogeneous. Culturally, yes.
But geneticaly, too..?

The answer is "No".

Japan has historically accepted many different tribes and as a result the Japanese people have many different genetic traits.

An excerpt from The Japan Times:

The above video 3/5 shows Ainu are genetically identical to the native South Latin American people.
The video 5/5 shows a shocking fact that only 4.8% of the Japanese genetic sequence is unique. That means Japanese are mostly mix of many different races in Asia.

Because Japan is a melting pot of Asia, the Japanese people's roots are very different, but what makes them believe they are totally homogeneous, is their culture, custom, and mentality. :)
these kinds of threads will always end up bringing in over generalizations and eventually nationalistic intentions when certain non-Japanese start participating in this thread.

first off, there are multiple theories on the origins of the Yayoi and Jomon, let alone the Japanese, and the video shown represents just one of the theories. If you read many academic journals, there's still lots of mysteries and inconclusiveness due to the multiple and often contradicting evidences.

secondly, the fifth video had a chart that says things like certain type of gene is X% similar and common with China, Y% with Korea, etc. Often its misinterpreted (usually by non Japanese speakers) as being X% is from China, Y% is from Korea, etc. There's a significant difference in its meaning, and one must take into consideration that these commonalities came during a time when ethnicities were not so clearly defined and well different thousands of years ago.

thirdly, the video also generalizes Chinese genetics too. Even if we limit the Chinese as just the Han nationality, there are over one billion of them dispersed over a wide area. The definition of what is "Chinese" constantly changes in history because different ethnic groups mix/assimilate/merge with other ethnic groups. The Chinese are so diverse it is inaccurate to just lump them as one genetic group. Some other studies usually do two (North and South Chinese), and even then its still too over generalistic and simplified.

finally, about Okinawa. Since I lived there and studied there and have a bit more knowledge on the genetic origins than some others here. This kind of thing is always widely debated. Sometimes the sentiment here is that they jump at the chance of finding more things to differentiate Okinawans from mainland Japanese.. and there's certainly some significant differences genetically, but also, many similarities. The one thing that we do know is that from Kyushu to Okinawa Honto, there's a series of islands one could island hop to. However from Okinawa Honto to Miyako, there's nothing. Also the currents are rough. Its highly unlikely that anyone going up from S.E Asia could make it to mainland Japan because of that gap until much later in history. Also, the Minatogawa man, one of the oldest preserved full set of bones of one person, found in Okinawa, showed strong similarities to the skulls found in Java, very similar but not exact. however before anyone makes strong conclusions (which is a tendency for people to do, make big conclusions over small things).. there's a significant time gap between him and the oldest set of Okinawan bones to draw anything conclusive. Because Okinawa's history is so intertwined with mainland Japan, knowing one will help understand the other.
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Some people say Japan is mixed not only other East/South East Asian people, but also with Ancient Israeli people:

1/3 Japanese are Jewish? Eng/Sub 日本とユダヤ

Personally, I take this theory with a grain of salt.:cheers:
What do you think?
There's alot of similar sounding words with roughly similar meanings between Japanese and Jewish, but also Japanese and Basque. Although it may make the average person wonder if there's a strong relation, such coincidences between two very different languages are actually quite common in linguistics.
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Thanks for your accounts!
Yes, that documentary is just a theory based on DNA analysis and current country borders
and I am aware there are other theories too.
I am only interested in those theories scientifically, and not interested in nationalism etc. :)
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here is something worth reading if you have time:
Please see the link for the full graphs and pics


Isolate Conservatism and Hybridization in the Population History of Japan: The Evidence of Nonmetric Cranial Traits

Nancy S. Ossenberg

The Jomon culture of Japan, the oldest known pottery-making culture in the world, began about 10,000 years ago and existed undisturbed for more than seven millennia. At about 300 B.C., immigrants from the mainland brought weaving, metalworking, and rice agriculture to Japan, initiating a series of radical changes during the Yayoi period which led to the formation of historic Japanese culture. By 300 A.D., Jomon culture south of Hokkaido had been so completely submerged by these new developments that any subsequent traces have been elusive. Defining the Jomon contribution to Japan culturally, linguistically, and genetically thus constitutes a major problem in Japanese prehistory (Chard,1974).

Jomon skulls and limb bones closely resemble the Upper Pleistocene Liujiang fossils of Kwangsi, south China, which represent a stock that had barely begun to differentiate along the ********* line (Yamaguchi, 1982). The Ainu, long an enigma in racial history and systematics, are now recognized as a. remnant population descended from the Jomon, which survived in Hokkaido following ancient hunting-fishing lifeways in relative isolation from post-Jomon influences until the end of the last century. Comparisons based on cranial measurements (Howells, 1966; Yamaguchi, 1982; Dodo, 1982) nonmetric cranial traits (Yamaguchi, 1967) and teeth (Turner, 1976; 1979; Turner and Hanihara, 1977; Brace and Nagai, 1982) attest to the affiliation of Ainu with Jomon.

Considerably more controversy centers on the question of the Jomon genetic contribution to the modern Japanese population. Present day gradients southwest to northeast across the archipelago in somatometric characters, ABO gene frequencies, and fingerprint patterns are interpreted as resulting from ancient hybridization (Yamaguchi, 1980; Hanihara, Kouchi, and Koizumi, 1982). This explanation needs to be buttressed by diachronic comparisons, but so far the evidence from such comparisons has been inconclusive.

According to Suzuki's reconstruction (1969), Jomon people were ancestral to both Ainu and Japanese. Divergence between the descendant populations was caused by environmental differences, chiefly dietary.

On the other hand Turner (1976), stressing the dichotomy between the simple proto ********* tooth morphology characteristic of Jomon-Ainu and the more robust, complicated teeth of modern Japanese and 1000 B.C. Shang Dynasty Chinese, argues that the modern Japanese could easily be the direct descendants of neo-********* immigrants (i.e., Yayoi folk) from north China. He sees in the dental data some indication that miscege nation could have occurred between the immigrants and aboriginal Jomon people, but judges this to be insignificant. Likewise, skull measurements indicate close resemblance of modern Japanese to 3000-5000 B.C. Neolithic populations of north China (Yamaguchi, 1982) and little resemblance to Jomon (Yamaguchi, 1982; Howells, 1966). However uncertainty as to the size of the colonizing delegations plus cultural and physical evidence from the Yayoi period showing continuity of the aboriginal population (Chard, 1974; Yamaguchi, 1977, 1982) caution that the scheme

Jomon → Ainu
Yayoi → modern Japanese

may be oversimplified.

To address the question of indigene-immigrant hybridization the present study examined discrete (nonmetric) variation of the skull. Discrete traits are predominantly under genetic control and, having proved useful for investigating microevolutionary mechanisms at the infraspecific level in various other animals, are becoming increasingly important in research into ethnic continuities (Berry, 1979). Recent reports give nonmetric trait data for various early and modern samples from Japan (Yamaguchi, 1967, 1977; Dodo, 1974, 1975, 1981; Mouri, 1976; Hanihara, 1981). Most of the multivariate distance analyses in those reports are concerned with post-Jomon comparisons within Japan. The present study extends the comparative framework to include Jomon, as well as several cranial series representing neo-********* populations of continental northeast Asia, in order to address the question of the Jomon people's genetic contribution to the modern population of Japan.

Materials and Methods

Cranial series providing data for this study include four from Japan and seven from Siberia. No skeletal series from Korea was available for study. Locations of the populations are mapped in Fig. 1, and sample sizes are given in Table 2.

Late phase Jomon (ca. 3000-500 B.C.) skeletal remains, mostly from the Tsukumo site in western Honshu, are housed in the Laboratory of Physical Anthropology at Kyoto University. A few remains from other Honshu sites were studied at the National Science Museum in Tokyo.

The Ainu skeletal sample represents a nineteenth century population from central and northeast Hokkaido, and is claimed to be the least influenced by Wajin (modern Japanese) mixture of any available sample (Yamaguchi, 1967). Collected by the late Professor Y. Koganei, the skeletons are housed in the University Museum of the University of Tokyo.

Recent Japanese crania are from dissecting room subjects. Those from the Kanto district are housed in the University Museum at the University of Tokyo; those from the Kinki district are in the Laboratory of Physical Anthropology at Kyoto University.

Material from the ancient Eskimo cemetery of Ekven, B.C./A.D.-A.D. 200, was studied in the Laboratory for Plastic Reconstruction of the USSR Institute of Ethnography, Moscow. Six other Siberian samples represent recent populations and are housed in the Laboratory of Physical Anthropology of the USSR Institute of Ethnography, Leningrad. All these Siberian peoples are of neo-********* racial type (Alexseev, 1979).

Twenty-six discrete cranial traits employed in this study arc listed in Table 1, according to four categories: hypostotic traits, hyperostotic traits, features related to variations in nerves and blood vessels, and variations at the craniovertebral border. Table 1 gives their frequencies in the four samples from Japan, sexes and sides pooled. All data were recorded by the author.

Previous reports provide descriptions of the individual features, methods for their scoring and statistical analysis, and evidence that this particular battery yields valid taxonomic information; i.e., distance measures congruent with those based on other data sets (craniometric, genetic marker) and/or congruent with known relationships (Ossenberg, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1981; Szathmary and Ossenberg, 1978).

The distance measure used is a modification of C.A.B. Smith's Mean Measure of Divergence (MMD), using the Freeman-Tukey inverse sine transformation of trait frequencies (Sjovold, 1977). Cluster analysis produced a dendrograph of the 11 samples (McCammon and Wenninger, 1970).

A Chi-square approximation derived from the individual term of the MMD (Sjovold, 1977) was used to test for significance of frequency difference of each trait between Jomon-Ainu, Jomon-Japanese (pooled), and Ainu-Japanese (pooled).


Of the 26 traits studied, 19 showed significant differences (p<.10) in one or more of the comparisons within Japan (Table 1). Highly significant differences (p<.001) were found for 13 traits: os japonicum trace, infraorbital suture, tympanic dehiscence, M3 suppressed, pterygobasal bridge, trochlear spur, mylohyoid bridge, auditory exostoses, supraorbital foramen, postcondylar canal absent, hypoglossal canal bridged, pharyngeal fossa, and odonto-occipital articulation. These traits represent all parts of the skull (vault, base, and face) and each of the four trait categories (hypostotic, etc.).1

The figures in Table 1 indicate Jomon and Ainu are similar to each other, and that Kanto and Kinki are even more so. For those traits in which they differ significantly from Jomon, Ainu tend to be intermediate between Jomon and modern Japanese. These relationships are illustrated in Fig. 2, where the total morphological pattern of each population is depicted as a polygon based on 18 of the features. Emerging from these diagrams is a relationship not readily discerned in Table 1; namely, that Kanto Japanese tend to be intermediate between Kinki Japanese and Ainu. Thus the polygons form a graded series: Kinki-Kanto-Ainu-Jomon.

Mean Measures of Divergence (Table 2) based on the 26-trait battery quantify population relationships. Six MMDs for within-Japan comparisons (upper left triangular area of the table) are wholly consistent with the gradation of profiles in Fig. 2, being ranked as follows:

Kanto-Kinki 33.9
Jomon-Ainu 47.9
Ainu-Kanto 71.9
Ainu-Kinki 101.2
Jomon-Kanto 133.5
Jomon-Kinki 168.0

Within-Japan MMDs were compared to within-Siberia MMDs (lower right triangular area of Table 2). Chukchi form a cluster with recent and ancient Eskimo; Tungus (Ulchi, Negidal, Evenki) form a second one. Within these clusters most relationships (MMD range 3.8-47.3) are closer than Jomon-Ainu (47.9) and Kinki-Kanto (33.9). At the other extreme, distances as large as Jomon-Japanese were found between Yukaghir and Chukchi-Eskimo. In the intermediate range and comparable to Ainu-Japanese are the affinities between Tungus and Chukchi-Eskimo and between Tungus and Yukaghir. Such comparisons help place the within-Japan MMDs in perspective.

Siberia-Japan MMDs are in the rectangular area of Table 2 and are graphed in Fig. 3. These were examined (i.e., reading down Table 2 and down Fig. 3) for each of the four series from Japan to answer the question: are its relationships within Japan closer than its relationships with foreign populations? In this context Jomon and Ainu are "insular," their closest relationships being with each other, followed by modern Japanese. In contrast, modern Japanese, especially the Kinki Japanese, have closer affinities with Siberians than with Ainu or Jomon, Another contrasting feature is that Japanese tend to be closer to Tungus than to Chukchi-Eskimo, whereas Jomon and Ainu show the reverse. As did preceding comparisons, these also point to a dichotomy between Jomon-Ainu and Kanto-Kinki.

The MMDs for each of the seven Siberian samples were examined (i.e., reading across Table 2 and Fig. 3) to answer the question: to which of the four series from Japan is each sample most closely related? With one exception (Yukaghir's close affinity to Kanto, 38.4), the MMDs rank from smallest to largest: Kinki-Kanto-Ainu-Jomon. In every case the difference between the smallest distance for Kinki (or Kanto) and the largest for Jomon is clear and unequivocal.

In graphic summary of the foregoing, the dendrograph (Fig. 4) portrays the dichotomy between recent Japanese on the one hand and Jomon-Ainu on the other. It shows Japanese clustered most closely with Tungus, then at successively higher levels with Yukaghir and Chukchi-Eskimo, while Jomon-Ainu are isolated from all these. The clustering technique, however, obscures important aspects of the relationships; namely, that Ainu are intermediate between Jomon and recent Japanese, Kanto clearly are closer to Jomon-Ainu than are Kinki, and Kinki are closer to Siberians than are Kanto. Interpretation of this gradient is the main theme of the following discussion.


The gradient of biological distances found in this study, Siberians-Kinki-Kanto-Ainu-Jomon, is consistent with the theory that hybridization between Jomon and continental immigrants during Yayoi and succeeding periods played an important role in Japanese population history. The argument is as follows.

According to the archaeological record Yayoi culture first appeared about 300 B.C. in north Kyushu. From there it spread eastward to reach the Kinki region by 200 B.C. After passing central Honshu the spread was less vigorous and the basic complex was slightly altered. By about 300 A.D. it had transformed all local cultures south of Hokkaido, Later Yayoi and the succeeding feudal Kofun society, A.D. 300-600, were maintained by cosmopolitan networks linking large centers in Kyushu and western Honshu with each other and with the continent. However, communities in northeastern Honshu remained smaller and somewhat peripheral to these latter developments (Chard, 1974; Ikawa-Smith, 1980). It is proposed that the MMD gradient, paralleling the dispersal of new culture elements, was shaped by regional differences in gene flow such that Kinki are most like continental Asiatics, Kanto are intermediate, and Ainu have retained the largest endowment from Jomon.

Whatever the aboriginal population size compared to the number of colonizers at the time of contact, the latter could have had significant regional genetic impact through the population growth rate differential between farmers and hunter-gatherers (Yamaguchi, 1982). Once established, dines would have been perpetuated by sociocultural factors as well as by the mountainous topography of the archipelago; even present day regional variations are thought to relate to narrow ranges of mobility and mate selection throughout the long history of Japan until the 20th century (Kondo and Kobayashi, 1975).

While not necessarily implicating admixture, Japanese workers occasionally note dines in their cranial data. Using 14 nonmetric features Dodo (1975) found that distance patterns of four recent Honshu series (Kinki, Kanto, Tohoku, and an earlier 18th-19th century series from the Unko-in Temple) closely correspond to the geographic relations among the samples. Further, his distances for these four from other Asian series hint at a continental extension of the dines, with Tohoku being progressively more distant from Korea, north China, and Mongolia.

Nasomalar angle, a measure of upper facial flatness, decreases in recent Japanese from northeast to southwest; i.e., faces are flatter (more *********) in the southwest. That similar clines are seen in Jomon populations may indicate that such gradients have remote sources even predating the Yayoi immigration (Yamaguchi, 1980).

Yamaguchi's (1982) generalized distances (corrected D2) based on eight cranial measurements follow a geographical gradient, with recent samples from northeast to southwest increasing in distance from Jomon as follows:

Ainu 2.85
Tohoku 6.14
Kanto 7.62
Kinki 10.21
Kyushu and Shikoku 9.66

Moreover, in the regions where diachronic comparisons are made the aboriginal population is closer to the earlier remains (and in temporal order: Yayoi, Medieval, early Modern) than to the most recent ones, in keeping with the idea that admixture was cumulative over time.

From Kyushu, dose to the presumed entry point of the mainland immigrants, D2 decreases again to the southwest:

Okinawa 3.65

A dose Jomon-Okinawa affinity hints that Okinawana (Ryukyuans) may to some extent represent, as do Ainu, a residual isolate descended from a proto-********* population with ancestral roots in southeast Asia. In keeping with this idea a close affinity between Ainu and Ryukyuans has been shown with respect to dental morphology (Hanihara et al., 1973) as well as genetic polymorphisms in the blood (Omoto and Misawa, 1976).

Beyond Japan, Yamaguchi's comparisons reveal Jomon most distant from northeast Asians: the D2 range for five series is 12.34-19.42.

Yamaguchi's craniometric study has only six populations in common with the present nonmetric one. Nevertheless, the perfect rank correlation between MMD and D2 for 10 population comparisons is highly significant (Fig. 5).2 Considering that nonmetric traits have been demonstrated to vary independently of the developmental processes expressed in skull dimensions and that most of the features analyzed show interaction either absent or at a very low level (Dickel, 1980), we may view the evidence from the two data sets as additive support for the argument presented here. Discrete trait data for additional samples are needed in order to fully define geographical and temporal patterns of the MMD.

Cautioning against a too facile interpretation of dines is the finding that Jomon's geographic variability in cranial measurements equals that of modern populations (Howells, 1966; Yamaguchi, 1980; Dodo, 1982). As foreign intrusion is not implicated this early, some mechanism other than admixture must have been involved. Looking back to Suzuki's theory, we must consider the possibility that environmental differences played a role in shaping the pattern of affinities revealed by discrete traits. Gracilization of the limb bones and increasing stature in Yayoi and subsequent periods (Yamaguchi, 1982) together with decrease in face breadth and tooth size (Brace and Nagai, 1982) point to adaptive response as an important factor in Japan, associated particularly with the transition from food gathering to rice agriculture. Theoretically, minor cranial variants being "epigenetic" (i.e., controlled by environmental as well as hereditary factors), they also could be affected by such changes (Berry, 1979).

On the other hand there are arguments against an adaptive response interpretation of the pattern of affinities seen in this study. In contrast with skeletal characteristics such as stature, these particular discrete traits appear to be resistant to shifts in ecozone and subsistence economy (Ossenberg, 1976; Szathmary and Ossenberg, 1978). Moreover, there does not seem to be any common environmental factor which would affiliate the Siberiansall hunting-gathering peoples-with recent Japanese rather than with Ainu or Jomon. The consensus of the Siberians' affinity to the Kinki Japanese is all the more remarkable when we consider the diverse environments represented in the enormous area between the Amur Valley and Chukotka Peninsula. Thus, while adaptive response may have contributed, it is likely that gene flow was the main mechanism shaping the MMD gradient in Japan.

Reviewing the accumulated evidence of anthropological studies, Hanihara and coworkers (1982) conclude that the geographical variation in cranial shape of modern Japanese was likely caused in large part by hybridization of the aboriginal population with post-Jomon immigrants. The influence of the latter was greatest in the Kinki district and part of western Japan. In agreement with Suzuki, they see this influence to be relatively small in the Kanto district and eastern Japan where Jomon physical characteristics persisted. They suggest that the physical differences between eastern and western Honshu are paralleled by a duality of cultural and environmental characteristics as revealed by archaeology, folklore, and linguistics. The findings in the present study agree with this interpretation, though showing Kanto more than marginally shifted away from Ainu-Jomon and towards Kinki.

As far as the Ainu are concerned: the reciprocally close Jomon-Ainu affinity revealed by nonmetric cranial traits, in agreement with other studies, is consistent with the reconstruction that Ainu are descended from Jomon and conserve in their gene pool a major contribution from these ancient ancestors. A question remains concerning mixture in the ancestry of Ainu. Turner (1976), noting that eight of nine Ainu dental features (studied in dental casts of contemporary people) shifted away from Jomon and towards recent Japanese, attributes this to recent gene flow. This interpretation is supported by documentation showing that mixture during historic times was minimal until 1868 when Hokkaido came under Japanese government control (Omoto and Misawa, 1976). However, it is doubtful that mixture so recent could account for the intermediate morphology of nineteenth century Ainu skulls. Their MMD and D2 cranial distances seem to fit better with the interpretation that Ainu represent the northeastern terminus of gradients established by ancient gene flow.

The Yayoi colonizers are believed to have come from the region that is now Korea, hough their precise source has yet to be identified. Unfortunately, no skeletal series from Korea were available for analysis. Siberian samples were included in this study, not with the notion that any of them might be specifically related to Yayoi, but simply as general representatives of the classic ********* stock of northeast Asia. Nevertheless some comments on Siberian affinities are in order.

Firstly, the Ulchi-Negidal-Evenki cluster and Chukchi-Eskimo-Ekven cluster derived from MMDs correspond, respectively, with the "Baikal" and "Arctic" morphological complexes defined by Soviet researchers on the basis of craniometric, anthropometric, and anthroposcopic analysis (Alexseev, 1979). Further, the position of the Yukaghir sample3 in the MMD dendrograph (Fig. 4) is consistent with the linguistic position of Yukaghir (Black, 1979) and with the view that this tribe represents a remnant of a paleo-Asiatic population once widespread in Siberia cast of Lake Baikal and ancestral to Tungus (Levin, 1963). Such correspondences lend credence to other interpretations of MMDs which rest on the assumption of their validity as estimates of genetic relationship.

Secondly, modern Japanese are more closely related to the Tungus (Ulchi-Negidal-Evenki) than to the Chukchi cluster. This is consistent with a putative linguistic affiliation of Japanese with the Tungus tribes through proto-Altaic (Miller, 1971) and is satisfying also in view of the description of the Baikal complex as being distinguished from other Siberian morphological complexes by its maximum development of ********* features (Alexseev, 1979).

In conclusion: bones and teeth provide convincing evidence of the Ainu's Jomon ancestry even though 2500 years or more separate the populations sampled. In turn Jomon people, enclaved in the insular environment of the postglacial period, seem to have preserved skeletal characteristics linking them much further back in time to a southeast Asian Upper Pleistocene ancestor scarcely differentiated along the ********* line, even while their contemporaries in northeast Asia already had evolved as classic **********. Thus, there appear to be exemplified in the population history of Japan both a remarkably tenacious conservatism of skeletal morphology and a well-defined gradient of biological distances produced by gene flow between proto-********* indigenes and neo-********* immigrants. This model could have parallels in other parts of Asia, and also could be useful when considering the various sources, dates, and routes of immigrations to the New World (Jennings, 1978).


Frequencies of 26 nonmetric cranial traits reveal modern Kinki district Japanese to be closely similar to the Kanto district population. Compared to these Japanese, Jomon are most dissimilar while Ainu are intermediate. Mean Measures of Divergence (MMD) for these four samples, and seven samples representing Siberian populations, follow a gradient: Siberians-Kinld-Kanto-Ainu-Jomon. In light of the archaeological record the MMD dine in modern Japan is interpreted as resulting from a southwest to northeast differential in gene flow during Yayoi and subsequent periods such that people of western Honshu are more closely descended from continental immigrants while Ainu, isolated in Hokkaido, have retained the largest genetic endowment from Jomon.


1. My frequencies of os japonicum trace are larger than those reported by Japanese investi gators (Dodo, 1974, 1975, 1981; Hanihara, 1981; Mouri, 1976; Yamaguchi, 1967, 1977) owing to my inclusion of minimal traces in the category "trait present," as consistent with scoring of North American series in which this feature is much less common. The authors cited have not reported certain features in my battery (IS, M3, TS, AOF, PPTS, SPF, MF, LPPF, PBB, ICC, PF), and they include in their trait lists certain features which I do not. For the other traits reported in common our frequencies are generally very close. Although variability in individual features may be of interest from the point of view of possible adaptive or other microevolutionary significance, this topic is beyond the scope of the present paper.[return to the text]

2. D2 values in addition to those published (Yamaguchi, 1982) were kindly sent to the author by Dr. Yamaguchi.[return to the text]

3. The Yukaghir cranial series is of uncertain provenience, as discussed by Alexseev (1979, p. 79) and Levin (1963, footnote p. 187). The possible ascriptions are either Tundra Yukaghir or Chukchi, the latter probably on the basis of the location of the mound from which the burials were excavated (the Markovskiy Rayon of the Chukchi National Okrug). According to Levin, Debets, after considering a number of facts concluded that this series did represent Yukaghirs. The MMD data in the present study appear to support this, as they cluster with Tungus and are not closely related to Chukchi. In any case, the close Kanto-Yukaghir affinity (MMD 38.4, rivalling Kanto-Kinki 33,9) is difficult to explain and may simply be spurious.[return to the text]


For their most generous help and hospitality I wish to thank the following: Dr. K. Hanihara, Tokyo University; Dr. B. Yamaguchi, National Science Museum, Tokyo; Drs. J. Ikeda, T. Mouri, and M. Nishida, Kyoto University; Drs. V. Alexseev, T. Kuzmina, V. Paritzkij, A. Pestrjakov, A. Zoubov (Moscow), and A. Kozintsev (Leningrad), of the Institute of Ethnography, Academy of Sciences USSR. Financial support for study of the North American collections derived from the following sources: National Research Council of Canada (doctoral fellowship, 1963-64), Boreal Institute of the University of Alberta (1970), Canada Council (1975-77), and Advisory Research Council, Queen's University (1973-74). Support for study of collections in Japan and the USSR was provided by a 1980-81 leave fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Data analysis was funded during 1981-82 by the Advisory Research Council of Queen's University.


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Genes and skeletons, ancient and modem. Journal of Human Evolution, Vol. 8, pp. 669-677.
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Japanese tooth size: Past and present. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Vol. 59, pp. 399-411.
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Northeast Asia in Prehistory. Madison; The University of Wisconsin Press.
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Jomon Genes
Using DNA, researchers probe the genetic origins of modern Japanese

Japan is generally considered one of the most modern, forward-looking countries in the world. Yet the Japanese also have an intense fascination with their islands' past, particularly the history and continuing influence of two peoples known as the Jomon and the Yayol.

The Jomon, the original inhabitants of Japan, are thought to have migrated from the Asian mainland at a time when the two regions were physically connected. When sea levels began to rise about 12,000 years ago, the Japanese archipelago became separate from continental Asia, and the Jomon were left to spread across the islands. Hunters, fishers, and foragers, the Jomon were also the world's first known potters. Indeed, their name-Japanese for cord marks-stems from the ropelike impressions found in their clay pottery.

Scholars agree that the Jomon period of Japan's history ran from at least 10,000 years ago to about 250 B.C. At that point, the Yayoi, apparently traveling in ships from the Korean peninsula, arrived at the islands. The Yayoi culture, marked by weaving, metalworking, and, most important, the farming of rice, soon supplanted that of the Jomon.

During the last century, anthropologists have fiercely debated whether the Jomon or the Yayoi were the true ancestors of the modern Japanese. For most of this debate's history, scientists have addressed the issue by comparing Asian languages, analyzing archaeological ruins, and measuring dental or other skeletal remains.

Over the last few years, another kind of evidence has begun to have an impact on the debate. By studying the genes of modern Japanese and of other Asians, and even the ancient DNA in the fossilized bones of the Jomon and the Yayoi, investigators hope to put together a genetic history of Japan. Researchers have recently examined, for example, the Y chromosomes of people throughout Asia

In conjunction with other historical evidence, the new work suggests that the Jomon did not originate in Southeast Asia, as one long-standing theory has it. but farther north. The research also sheds light on the extent to which the Jomon and the Yayoi have influenced the genetic makeup of modern Japanese.

"Our data clearly show that both Yayoi and Jomon genes have made a contribution to the contemporary gene pool," says Michael F. Hammer, who presented the Y chromosome research in October 1996 at the American Society of Human Genetics meeting in San Francisco.

"The Jomon are the obvious ancestors of the Ainu but not of modem Japanese," says C. Lonng Brace, an anthropologist at the University in Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The transformation hypothesis holds that the Yayoi culture did supplant the Jomon culture but that the Yayoi did not come to Japan in large enough numbers to influence significantly the Jomon gene pool.

"Genetically, there's not much difference between the Jomon people and the current Japanese," asserts Masatoshi Nei. a population geneticist at Pennsylvania State University in State College and one of the strongest supporters of the transformation model.

The final theory offers a compromise. Usually referred to as the hybridization, or dual structure, model, it suggests that both the Yayoi and the Jomon have contributed significantly to the genes of most living Japanese.

Hammer, a researcher at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and Satoshi Horai, who works at the National Institute of Genetics in Mishima, Japan, addressed these theories with their study of the Y chromosome. In particular, the pair focused on an addition to the chromosome, the Y Alu polymorphic element, or YAP. Alu sequences are short stretches of DNA with the unusual abillty to copy themselves and jump from one chromosome to another. The typical human genome holds an estimated 1 million Alu sequences, says Hammer. YAP is an Alu sequence that hopped to a specific site on the Y chromosome at a relatively recent moment in human evolution. The addition of YAP seems to have occurred so recently that not every man in the world has it. "You're either a plus or a minus," Hammer explains.

The researchers began to realize that YAP might prove useful when an initial study of Asian populations revealed that only men from Japan seemed to harbor the genetic marker. In Taiwan and Korea, for example, not a single man was found to possess YAP, Hammer and Horai reported in the American Journal of Genetic Studies suggest that Japan s original inhabitants, the Jomon, mixed with a later culture, the Yayoi. The Jomon's closest descendants today inhabit Japan's northern and southern islands.

Three theories have dominated the debate about the origin of the modem Japanese people. The replacement theory argues that the invading Yayoi wiped out the Jomon both culturally and genetically. Proponents of this option contend that the only remaining descendants of the Jomon are the Ainu in Hokkaido, the northern most of the Japanese islands, and some inhabitants of Japan's southernmost islands. Among the physical features that make the Ainu distinct from most Japanese are lighter skin and more body hair.

Human Genetics. Furthermore, the pair found that YAP-positive chromosomes appeared with much greater frequency in the southem islands of Japan than in the country's main islands.

From that evidence, Hammer and Horai hypothesized that the YAP element was originally carried to Japan by the Jomon and that the Yayoi, who came from the region that now makes up North and South Korea, lacked the marker. More recent research has strengthened this theory.

Working with several colleagues, the two researchers mapped the distribution of YAP-positive chromosomes throughout Japan. While men living in central Japan rarely carry YAP. the Ainu and inhabitants of the southern islands, the two populations apparently least influenced by the Yayoi, frequently do.

Hammer and his colleagues are also studying a second Y chromosome marker that may serve as a sign of the Yayoi migration. This marker is common in Koreans and appears most frequently in the central islands of Japan, says Hammer.

Together, contends Hammer. the two markers tell a story of an initial Yayoi migration into central Japan and a subsequent spread of the people toward the north and south. Since both Y chromosome markers are still found in varying degrees throughout Japan, it appears that the genes of the Jomon and Yayoi peoples did intermingle significantly.

"Our data support the hybridization theory," says Hammer.

The research on YAP has also addressed another controversial question: Where did the Jomon come from? Some researchers have long held the idea that the Jomon originated in southeast Asia and spread to Japan about 12,000 years ago. Analyses of dental remains, shared aspects of language, and even some genetic studies have offered support for this scenario.

Several years ago, Nei offered an alternative. Working from his own analysis of more than a dozen genetic markers on a variety of chromosomes and from archaeological data showing habitation of Japan dating back 30,000 years, Nei argued that the Jomon actually came from northeastern Asia and settled in Japan far earlier than supporters of the Southeast Asia theory had proposed.

While the YAP data do not appear to support the transformation theory favored by Nei, they may bolster Nei's vision of the Jomon's origin, says Hammer. He and his colleagues surveyed more than 1,000 men from 20 populations in Southeast Asia. "We didn't find a single example of a YAP-positive chromosome", says Hammer.

In contrast, a survey of 700 men from 13 northern Asian populations did reveal areas with YAP-positive chromosomes.

About 3 percent of men from southwestern Siberia and Mongolia have the marker. The most spectacular finding was that more than 50 percent of men from Tibet harbor the YAP element.

While Tibet is part of central Asia, Nei suggests that the YAP data support his theory that the Jomon originated in the northeast. Other researchers have concluded that the Tibetans arrived in their current homeland only several thousand years ago, after a migration from northeast Asia, Nei points out.

The new Y chromosome research by Harnmer and Horai is unlikely to settle the century-old debate about the origin of the Jomon and their genetic contribution to modern Japanese, caution researchers following the issue.

"You may get a different story when you look at the Y chromosome than when you look at mitochondrial DNA or when you look at other nuclear genes," warns Brace, who adds that any genetic data must also be reconciled with traditional archaeological evidence. "They all have to mesh to tell a complete story."

Unraveling that story continues to hold a high priority in Japan. Over the next 4 years, the country's Ministry of Education intends to fund a large, multidisciplinary research effort to examine the origins of the Japanese and their culture.
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I agree with everything in this thread except the jewish thing. Especially since jewish isn't really even a true ethnicity in itself. Jews are a mixture of african, arab and european lineages. Even if ancient jews somehow made it to japan through china the amount of jewish blood in japan today would probably be like .01%. Other than this one point good thread.

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Jomon → Ainu
Yayoi → modern Japanese

may be oversimplified.
Hmm , jomon + east asian/siberian "natives" like Nivkhs. Actually the emishi might have been the last true jomon. Ainu today are mixed just like japanese.

Yayoi>japanese, well yayoi + jomon= modern japanese.
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Hmm , jomon + east asian/siberian "natives" like Nivkhs. Actually the emishi might have been the last true jomon. Ainu today are mixed just like japanese.

Yayoi>japanese, well yayoi + jomon= modern japanese.
you're very right, the Ainu aren't all the same either. There is an Ainu book by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney (one of the few Ainu books out there) about the types of Ainu. Ainu's were originally scattered all over North Asia: Tohoku, Hokkaido, Sakhalin, Kuril Islands, even the southern tip of Kamchatka and the lower Amur in mainland Russia.

I remember her writing that the Sakhalin Ainu's looked very Asian, as if they mixed with local Nanai or Nivkhs. Man of them had frequent conflict with each other too. However after time most of them moved to Hokkaido, especially when the Russians expanded eastward, and by WWII kicked all of them out.

In that region, along with the Emishi, there is another extinct ethnic group called the Okhotsk (named after the sea) who were believed to be an intermediate between Nivkh and Ainu.
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Interesting article!
However, as the NHK video says Jomon people themselves were already very diverse
and Jomon in North Japan and Jomon in South(West) Japan were already genetically different.
However, Nancy seems to lamp them all together and use samples of Jomon people from West Japan and comparing them with Ainu people, which is quite inappropriate:
Late phase Jomon (ca. 3000-500 B.C.) skeletal remains, mostly from the Tsukumo site in western Honshu, are housed in the Laboratory of Physical Anthropology at Kyoto University. A few remains from other Honshu sites were studied at the National Science Museum in Tokyo.
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And as the video says,

The simple formula
yayoi + jomon= modern japanese
is now revealed to be inappropriate
and Japanese are more diverse than that. :)
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very interesting thread. Its always touted that Japan is one of the most homogenous people's of the world, yet less than 5% have pure ancestry. A good bit of myth-debunking there.
Here is an excerpt from the video 5/5.

From the video:

But recent research has begun to prove that the Jomon Japanese themselves were genetically diverse.

Okinawans and Ainu, who were believed to be descendants of the same Jomon Ethnicity; at least one sequence is always different. This proves that when they first arrived on the Japanese islands, they were already 2 different ethnic groups.

Professor Horai then analyzed the mitochondrial DNA of 5 asian ethnicities and studied the roots of the Japanese.
The results were fascinating. According to Professor Horai, only 4.8% of the Japanese genetic sequence is unique.

The bar chart of genetic compsition of the Japanese people shows the result as follows:

Unique to Japanese type: 4.8%
Korean type: 24.2%
Chinese type: 25.8%
Ainu type: 8.1%
Okinawan type: 16.1%
Other than the 5 groups above: 21%

It was proven that Japanese are a mixture of many ethnicities.

On the other hand, Koreans have 40% unique genetic sequence, and Chinese had an even higher 60%.

Professor Horai says "We have found that the Japanese do not have many distinctive characteristics. On the contrary we have many similarities with the Asian mainland including Korea and China. By no means are we a genetically uniform ethnicity."

The **********, who came from the Asian Mainland: The Jomon people and the Yayoi people who were thought to be a unique ethnicity were also in fact very diverse.

Modern Japanese people are not an individual ethnic group, but have a connection with the people of the Chinese mainland and the Korean peninsula. Japanese roots are not as simple as Jomon or Yayoi anymore.
Korean and Chinese peoples are more genetically "homogeneous" societies, from DNA analysis.:)

What makes Japanese homogeneous is mindset and heart, not genes.
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However after time most of them moved to Hokkaido, especially when the Russians expanded eastward, and by WWII kicked all of them out.
at frst ,I think Ainu moved from south to Notrh like Sakhalin through Japan because of D2..?
D2 is not seen there like in notrh central asia
Unique to Japanese type: 4.8%
Korean type: 24.2%
Chinese type: 25.8%
Ainu type: 8.1%
Okinawan type: 16.1%
Other than the 5 groups above: 21%
a more accurate translation of the original Japanese for this would be

Unique to Japanese type: 4.8%

Common in Korea type: 24.2%
Common in China type: 25.8%
Common in Ainu type: 8.1%
Common in Okinawa type: 16.1%
Other than the 5 groups above: 21%

again these are quite generalized as I've mentioned before. Any academic studies on China shows that they are quite diverse and uncommonness is actually common.
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Korean and Chinese peoples are more genetically "homogeneous" societies, from DNA analysis.
I dont know much about the Koreans, but the Chinese (Han people) are much more diverse than you could ever imagine.
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