UTC stands for Universal Time Coordinated, or Coordinated Universal Time. It is the standard used for standard time zones around the globe. It is also the standard used for astronomical events.
“Coordinated Universal Time or UTC is a standard, not a time zone. In other words, it is the base point for all other time zones in the world. They [other time zones] are determined by their difference to UTC. UTC [itself] is represented as UTC +0.
The Kanayama Megaliths of Central Japan were built around 5000 years ago during the Jomon Period. They are still in full operation, as we have been reporting on this site, as a super-accurate solar calendar. The Kanayama Solar calendar is aglobal calendar.This series of posts will show this. We begin with some basic astronomical facts related to the passage of the sun in the sky, as seen from earth.
Observing the Sun in the Sky
Indigenous people around the world have been watching the sun in the sky to know the seasons. Even if they knew that the earth orbits the sun, nevertheless, in terms of human living it is as if the sun goes around the earth…
Map of Japan showing latitudes. The three main islands lies approximately 30 to 40 degrees north latitude.Image credit
FUYU ITARU HI: WINTER SOLSTICE and THE SIX-SEASON SOLAR CALENDAR
In the Wosite language of Jōmon Japan, the winter solstice was termed, fuyu itaru hi, the day that winter (fuyu) arrives. In modern Japan, this same meaning is pronounced tōji. Yet in haiku over the years, the older indigenous fuyu itaru hi frequently appears.
As we have shown in other articles, the Jōmon certainly had used a solar calendar of their own making. The solar-tracking megaliths of Kanayama are evidence of this. This is natural in an early civilization so attuned to the life-giving sun.
Hiyomi and Koyomi
The solar calendar is confirmed in the Wosite writings of the same period, circa 5,000 years ago. They name a brilliant man named Achihiko Omoikane as its creator, for which he received the title, Hi-yomi-no-miya, Master of the Solar Calendar. Until that time, calendars were called koyomi (ko-yomi), meaning to read the trees for the seasons. Even though Japan now uses the Gregorian solar calendar, the word for calendar is still koyomi!
Achihiko showed how to read the sun for more accurately knowing the seasons of the year. For practical reasons in a rural landscape without electricity or flashlight batteries, indigenous people relied on lunar phases to mark the days. However, the lunar calendar does not match well with the solar year; too many adjustments are needed. The people of Wosite times wanted to know the solar year which tells the seasons for practical purposes such as fishing, hunting, and agriculture.
One might speculate that the earliest shrines in the form of standing megaliths or grove of sacred trees were oriented toward the east, and we have seen many cases of this. Later, perhaps, their astronomical knowledge enabled them to place shrines solsticially.
Winter Solstice Sunrise
In the land of Japan, between 30 to 40 degrees north latitude, the winter solstice sun rises and sets 30 degrees south of the east-west line. In field trips to hundreds of old shrines, we have found a predominance of shrines facing either the sunrise or the sunset of winter solstice. This implies that ancient people knew how to determine these solstice directions. And they found it significant to orient their sacred places to honor the sun’s return to the north.
One of the oldest shrines in Japan is the Asadori Jinja. Its origin is unknown. Yet, the local Shinto priest conducts a ceremony starting just before dawn on winter solstice morning. The villagers have assembled to greet the sun as it rises. At first light, they shout “ka-kee kō!” Thus the name of the shrine, Asa-dori, which means the Bird of Morning, the rooster.
On the Higashinoyama (Eastern Mountain) of Kanayama are a grouping of lying megaliths some 9 meters long. They point to the sun as it clears the terrain on the morning of the winter solstice.
Moreover, observations can be made 60 days before and after this date. (Solar observations can be made more accurately when the sun is not near solstice). The earlier date gives advance notice of the day that winter solstice will arrive so that they could prepare their ceremony. As well, this is an important date in their solar calendar as we shall shortly explain.
By careful observations over long periods of time, the Jōmon people knew the four-year leap-year cycle as well as the longer 128-year cycle. Theirs is an observational calendar, always true to the actual movement of the sun.
In the Wosite literature the winter solstice marked the beginning of the new year. Our own Gregorian calendar begins the new year on January 1, ten days after the winter solstice. Was this choice deliberate? The Solar calendar of the Jōmon was deliberately designed “from scratch,” so to speak.
Kanayama Solar Calendar with Six Seasons
The Kanayama solar calendar is noteworthy for its six-part symmetry. Each season is approximately 60 days long. In this chart, we have placed winter solstice at the bottom, when the sun is lowest in the sky, furthest south. The calendar reads clockwise. Let’s approximate the year as having 360 days. Then the 60 days before winter solstice may be considered to begin the early winter season, and 60 days after winter solstice marks the end of late winter and the beginning of the 60-day spring season. Spring lasts, on this calendar, from 30 days before to 30 days after the vernal equinox. And so it goes for the rest of the year until the calendar and the sun cycle back around. In this chart from the Kanayama Research Center, the dates shown in red are actual dates when multiple solar observations are made at the megaliths.
On wall calendars in the U.S., the winter solstice date is labelled the “first day of winter.” In the U.K., this day is termed “midwinter day.” It’s interesting that the U.K. custom matches the six-season calendar.
Asanoha Sacred Symbol
The six-fold symmetry of the solar calendar is reminiscent of the sacred symbol of the asanoha motif. Asanoha represents the vigor of the asa hemp plant, sacred to the people. The asanoha pattern is often found in children’s clothing and dishes to wish good health and longevity. The asanoha pattern shown here on the left in woodwork is the Japanese version of the flower of life. The diagram on the right is a copy of the flower of life pattern in stone of the Temple of Abydos in Egypt.
Hemp is known for being long used in making ropes for its strength and durability. While growing hemp was banned for a period of time in certain countries when it was thought to contain THC, the hallucinatory chemical in marijuana, the hemp plant is now making a comeback to legality and is serving for health and medicinal purposes, as it was meant to do. It is also a sustainable plant and is being more widely used in ecofriendly fabrics.
Astronomical Cross Quarters of Space
We find that the four dates which delineate the boundaries of the 120-day summer and winter seasons are known to astronomers as the cross-quarter dates. These dates do not divide the temporal year into four parts of 91 days each. Rather, they divide the times of the year when the sun’s path in the sky moves into another of the four zones. With the solstices marking the extreme borders, there are six calendar dates dividing the Jōmon calendar into six seasons. This is very interesting, since the ancient Vedic calendar of India has the same six seasons. However, the Vedic calendar is based on stellar observations and will gradually cease to match the solar year as the star patterns in the sky change due to a precessional cycle of around 26,000 years.
In this NASA chart , the zone occupied by the sun in the sky is bordered by the red arc for summer solstice and the green arc for winter solstice. It is divided into two parts by the path of the sun during the equinoxes, shown in blue. The cross-quarters are the further division of each half again into half, thus forming four quarters of the sun’s zone. By this, we mean the angles are divided into half. For example, for latitudes around 35 degrees the red and green arcs are separated by 60 degrees; the half-way angles are separated by 15 degrees.
In conclusion, we have discussed the Jōmon indigenous solar calendar. We have pointed out some aspects of ancient calendars and how the sun is observed on certain days of the year, including the winter solstice. The winter solstice has served as the start of the new year in many indigenous cultures as well as in Japan.
The return of the sun on the winter solstice is certainly a cause for celebration!
P.S. A related winter solstice post on Iwakage, the blog site of the Kanayama Megaliths is here.
The Kanayama Megaliths from the Jomon period have been following the path of the sun in the sky for thousands of years. Thirty observations are made per year to determine the super-accurate solar calendar, an astronomical calendar. One of the most important observations is shown above. The photo was taken by Chika-san at Higashinoyama on December 22, 2019 when the sun rose above the neighboring mountains, and appeared directly ahead of the 9-meter long megalith.
Civil and Astronomical New Years
In many countries, the new year begins on the first day of January. Why? It is a civil calendar created for Western society beginning with the Roman calendar for the running of society. Astronomical calendars are based on major astronomical events such as solstices and equinoxes or risings of important stars and asterisms.
Astronomical New Year
In ancient societies in Europe and in Asia, indigenous people eagerly awaited the the return of the sun to their hemisphere after winter. They used an astronomical calendar. They carefully determined winter solstice day, the shortest day of the year and the day when the sun is lowest in the sky. They celebrated, for the sun is returning!
There are revival ceremonies in Japan to welcome back the sun. One of them is the Asadori Winter Solstice ritual that has continued for thousands of years in Central Japan.
Bonfire before and after being lit on winter solstice morning at Asadori shrine. Photo by Chika.
Earth and Celestial Energies.Humans have long held a deep relationship with Earth and its energies. Even as hunter-gatherers, early man knew places of power as sacred places. They gathered at these sites to honor and venerate life-giving energies of Earth and Sky.
People became aware of fluctuations of these terrestrial energies, and they realized that these earth cycles were related to celestial cycles, the movements of Sun, Moon, and stars in our sky. They knew how to live in harmony with these energies.
Megaliths.Soon, humans learned that these energies could benefit the health and welfare of people and society, that these energies were associated with naturally occuring megaliths. They learned, as they settled down and began cultivating crops, how to improve their lives. At first, they utilized megaliths to mark significant places. Then they assembled them into megalithic structures, often moving huge boulders from far away, to these special sites — how we do not know. Thus, energies were enhanced. Energies could be redirected to areas where needed, for example, to their crop fields. Megalithic structures could be erected to tamp excessive earth energies such as those due to earthquakes.
As modern research technologies have advanced, and our minds have been opened to new ways of viewing early societies, we have come to better understand early man. These megalithic places served multiple purposes, the least and the last of which was to serve as cemeteries. Through more accurate dating of materials, we know that the structures were built in the 4,000 BCE time-frame, that they were later and only occasionally re-purposed as burial sites.
Purposes of megaliths.As mentioned, megalithic sites served to mark sacred places; they were developed to manage earth and celestial energies to benefit society. And, finally, megalithic structures were designed and built and operated to serve as observatories. They could then provide accurate data for calendars and for predicting future celestial phenomena, to know when there would be significant changes in energy.
Each of these megalithic observatories investigated the celestial body pertinent to that particular site. Although these observatories were a late development, there are not so many that are known to us today.
In summary, let’s list the purposes of megaliths and megalithic structures, in roughly chronological order.
+ Identify locations of sacred sites,
+ Hold sacred ceremonies to venerate life-giving force of Universe,
+ Control and manage energies for beneficial purposes,
+ Learn periodic fluctuations of celestial energies affecting earth energies,
+ Observe celestial phenomena in specially-built observatories to determine more exactly the timing of special energies,
+ Determine an accurate calendar of the year/years.
Kanayama Megalithic Observatory
Deep in a mountain forest on the main island of the Japanese archipelago lies a megalithic solar observatory. This site has recently come to the attention of those outside of Japan as the source of a super-accurate solar calendar. This calendar of the tropical year is based on sunlight observation and is 15 times more accurate than our modern calendar. The megaliths were shaped and assembled more than 5,000 years ago. We know, because later humans deposited ashes that have so been dated.
Japanese news media have termed this solar observatory a “power spot”. People have been coming from near and far to experience this remarkable achievement from long ago. They are amazed at the ancient people’s knowledge of astronomy, of their skill in shaping 100-ton and 200-ton blocks of stone, of moving them with precision into desired — and well-planned — configurations. These configurations enable a human observer to accurately track sunbeams and their patterns over the course of the year. at special times, special phenomena are observed. These times of observation determine the solar calendar.
This sun-tracking station is situated amidst tall trees in the mountains near a rushing river. To track the sun would have been simpler if the site were on a flat plain as in most other calendrical observatories. However, the site was cleverly chosen so that it could operate in winter as well as in summer, throughout the entire tropical year.
What’s also remarkable is that two non-specialist researchers have, in less than 20 years, decoded the purpose of this megalithic site. Actually, it is a system of three sites which cooperate to produce all the needed observations, and more. These modern researchers in fact have accomplished their own feat of reverse engineering. They have deduced, from what they themselves have observed, what the original purpose of each megalithic solar event was, and the functions of each megalithic structure.
And to top it off, they are able to explain to the large tour groups how it all works, in language that is simple and direct, uncluttered by scientific jargon. They have already published a fully-illustrated guidebook to the site and have a more technical bi-lingual book in preparation.
The Kanayama Megaliths are a living example of an ancient scientific system. To young children and adults alike it teaches basic astronomy ‘in the field’ so that everyone can experience being a sun tracker in megalithic times.
Iwaya-Iwakage blogsite for Kanayama Megaliths has three new posts reporting on winter solstice there. On December 21, 2016, a group of intrepid souls made the steep ascent up Higashinoyama (the peak shown in above photo by S. Tokuda) in the early hours to view the light of the rising sun. Join them on this winter adventure in the mountains of Kanayama.
As you know, the Kanayama Megaliths are the home of an extremely accurate solar calendar. This guidebook,
GUIDE TO JOMON SOLAR OBSERVATION AT KANAYAMA MEGALITHS
by Yoshiki Kobayashi and Shiho Tokuda, Sangokan, Japan, 2016
was published in September 2016, and has already sold out its first printing at Amazon Japan. Its 72 pages are in full color and lavishly illustrated with Tokuda’s photos, charts, and illustrations. The book takes the reader to all three of the Kanayama Megalith sites: Higashi-no-yama, Senkoku-ishi, and Iwaya-Iwakage, and through all the seasons. The solar calendar of the Jomon who made this megalithic astronomic observatory is explained. Even the recently-analyzed leap-year cycle of 128 years is described. The back cover is the observational solar calendar. It shows at a glance the observations that take place at a given date at each of the three sites. This guidebook is immensely valuable to the many visitors at Kanayama…
Summer solstice arrived at Kanayama Megaliths on June 22, 2016. Three days before, namely June 19, sun rose around 5:40 from the mountains behind clouds. Although its light could be seen between the two megaliths, the sun barely lit a dim path between them (left photo).
The appearance of this spotlight in the grotto of Senkoko-Ishi heralds the coming of summer solstice 31 days hence, in other words June 21, 2016 at Kanayama Megaliths. And 31 days after the solstice, July 23, the dashed spotlight will make its last appearance of the year. There are 62 days between the two dates, and the solstice is in the middle. Remember, between spring and autumn, the sun daily moves northward until the solstice and then moves southward, retracing is path. This dashed phenomenon only lasts for a few days each time.
What is Lahaina Noon? It is the popular term used in the Hawaiian Islands for the two days per summer when the noontime sun is directly overhead any given spot in the Islands (Okunomichi link 1). On those two days, the zenith sun casts no shadow of thin vertical objects such as poles and stop signs (Okunomichi link 2). Those two dates in 2016 for four Hawaii cities are listed in the first of the two posts. For Honolulu, Oahu, the dates are May 26 and July 15; for Hilo, Hawaii, they are May 18 and July 24. On the Tropic of Cancer, there is only the one date of the summer solstice itself, June 20.
It occurred to Iwaya Rockbat that stop signs such as the one shown by Okunomichi can be used as indicators of summer solstice date, just as the dashed spotlight does. Using the dates given for Honolulu, May 26 and July 15, we counted the number of days between them and found there were 50 days. The middle date will occur 25 days after May 26. It will be June 20. It is exactly right for Honolulu!
For Hilo, the two dates are May 18 and July 24. The designated summer solstice date is June 20. Again, this is perfectly right!
So, what prevents us from using signposts in Hawaii to determine by observation the date of the summer solstice? The big issue is the accuracy of observation. The day before the photo was taken, Okunomichi had taken a similar photo of the same signpost. The shadow was close to non-existent. It was nearly the same. We conclude that this is not a very accurate way of determining the date of summer solstice. A place closer to the equator would be better, but how much better?
On the other hand, the megaliths of Senkoku allow a special beam of light to strike the side of stone A’ in the grotto. Most of the time, after clearing that side panel, the sunbeam lands on the floor of the grotto. Only on a few special days a year does it illuminate the “bumps” on the triangular face that the ancients had carved especially for this purpose. The arrival and end of the dashed spotlight is a delicate determinator of the summer solstice date.
We can marvel at the ingenuity of the ancient people who created with wonderful solar observatory using megaliths!