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Oyu Stone Circles in Japan Align to Solstices

oyu stone circles summer solstice

One of the Oyu stone circles in Japan. Photo by Takuan, by [CC-BY-SA-3.0] , via Wikimedia Commons.

The Manza and Nonakado Circles

The Oyu stone circles on the left bank of the Oyu river (in the northeastern Akita Prefecture) in Japan are said to have been built between 2000 – 1500 BC, during the late Jomon culture era in the region. These two 4000 year old stone circles align to the summer solstice and winter solstice, and likely the equinoxes as well.1

One of these circles is known as the Manza circle, and it is 46 meters in diameter — the largest known stone circle in Japan. The second circle is known as the Nonakado circle, and it is only slightly smaller, with a 42 meter diameter. The two circles are spaced about 90 meters apart.2

nonakada stone circle japan solstice alignments

Nonakada Circle. Photo by G41rn8, [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Both circles are made from rounded river stones, and are shaped in the form of two concentric circles — much like the symbol of the astronomical sun, which is one of the symbols of the ancient Religion of the Sun.

Within the rings there are clusters of stone, including standing stones which are encircled by elongated stones that “irradiate” outwards from these standing stones, forming a sundial that marks the summer solstice sunset. Another such marker marks the winter solstice sunrise. It is also suggested that there is an alignment for the equinox.3

The construction style (working with smaller stones shaped into concentric circles and clusters of markers) is reminiscent of other ancient sites such as the Majorville Medicine Wheel — a 5000 year old solar calendar in Alberta, Canada, with alignments to solstices and equinoxes.

A video of the Nonakado circle can be seen here:

The Manza circle can also be seen below:

Other finds, such as pottery and clay figurines, in the vicinity of the site indicate a ceremonial and celebratory use.4 The site appears to have been used by different groups over time.

Ancient Japan and Some Cross-Cultural Links

Stone circles aligned to solstices and equinoxes can be found all over the world, linking the builders of the Oyu stone circles in a shared understanding / knowledge of such structures with the many other cultures that aligned their sacred sites to these important times of the year.

Interestingly, myths from the area mention contact with people of the ancient Religion of the Sun. Apparently according to the mythology of the Ainu people, whose culture thrived in the same region of Japan, they believe that,

“They lived in this place a hundred thousand years before the Children of the Sun came.”5

Dogu Figurines

The Jomon time period in Japan is known for its mysterious little clay dogu figurines, of which over 20,000 have been found6 (some of which were also discovered at the site of the Oyu stone circles7 ), and which depict various curious types of humanoids.

Many of these figurines were commonly adorned with the spiral and double spiral symbols — sometimes these were depicted as garments, at other times as body tattoos. A few examples of these little clay statues and their spiral adornments can be seen below. An example of a figurine with a double spiral can be seen here.

dogu figurines dressed with spirals

Photo credit: left: Photo by Rc 13, by [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Right: Photo by Vassil, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

moche depiction of bearded men

Ceramic figurines from pre-Columbian Peru depicting Viracocha as a bearded man, with a priestly robe, and large ear plugs. Photo by Pattych, by [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

One last peculiar connection is the mysterious dogu figurine shaped like a triangular being with a line across its eyes, which curiously is depicted in many ancient petroglyphs in Utah, USA (especially at Sego Canyon and Horseshoe Canyon), and also found as a giant carved rock statue of a similar shape amidst the megaliths in Montana, USA — which once again hints at some sort of a connection or a shared knowledge between these ancient cultures.

triangular dogu figurine

Photo credits: top left: dogu figurine of this mysterious triangular figure, circa 2200 BC. Photo by Ko010, [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Image has been cropped. Top right: statue found at the Montana megaliths site. Photo © Julie and Bill Ryder (used with permission) via Galactic Facets. Bottom: photo of a petroglyph at Sego Canyon, Utah, USA, featuring this figure. Photo by inkknife_2000, by [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Additionally, interesting linguistic (especially with the Zuni culture)8, genetic9, and artistic10 links between the ancient culture of Japan and some of the pre-Columbian peoples of the Americas have been observed, indicating an ancient cross-cultural and cross-continental connection.

Priya Osmund and Lucia Beznik contributed research for this article.

  1. “Oyu Stone Circles.” Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku. Accessed July 26, 2017. 

  2. “Ōyu Stone Circles.” Wikipedia. July 23, 2017. Accessed July 26, 2017.

  3. Ibid. 

  4. “Oyu Stone Circles.” Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku. Accessed July 26, 2017.

  5. “Who are the Ainu people?” Heritage of Japan. December 16, 2014. Accessed July 26, 2017.

  6. “Religion – Mystery of Dogu Figurines.” Online Resource for Japanese Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (ORJACH). Accessed July 26, 2017.

  7. “Oyu Stone Circles.” Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku. Accessed July 26, 2017.

  8. Dodson, Frederick. “The Zuni Japanese Connection.” Ancient Atlantis. September 06, 2014. Accessed July 26, 2017.

  9. “Genetic evidence links Peru’s ancient Mochica culture to Japanese, Siberian and Taiwanese peoples.” Andean Air Mail & PERUVIAN TIMES, for nearly 100 years Peru’s newspaper source for English-language local news and analysis. Accessed July 26, 2017.

  10. “Valdivia culture.” Wikipedia. July 25, 2017. Accessed July 26, 2017.

About the author

Jenny Belikov

Jenny Belikov is a researcher and practitioner of the ancient religion of the sun and the Managing Editor for The Spiritual Sun, where she also researches and writes about ancient sacred sites; spiritual texts and practices; the latest discoveries in archeology, archeoastronomy, and related sciences; as well as the exploration of various facets of the lost civilization of the sun.


  • I had the same feeling about Japan that there is a huge history at ancients times that need to be discovered and hidden stories that can reveal something glorious. So thank you for digging into this and for all the findings.

    I don’t know though if only the sites can lead us to a Sun culture.
    For example, I was checking about the cruciform stone figures they found at Cyprus which are aged between 3900-2500BC.
    I couldn’t find any evidence of a sacred site from this age but these figures are an indication for me that something could be there related to the religion of the sun

  • Such interesting finds and similarities Jenny.

    The Jomon video showed a few other collections of stones in the grounds around the circle and I was wondering if they were celestial/astrological alignments that perhaps might convey their date or period. It was also interesting how the energy feel that the narrator felt at the circle was a feminine quality.

    When I was looking at the picture of the Dogu figurines it looked like the one on the left was feminine and the one on the right was a masculine, just my feel on it, it could be that they are the same but the maker was more detailed than the other, nevertheless their similarity is striking, even on the design on the collar of each figurine.

    Such an amazing place that’s left me intrigued as to what all those other circles represented or were set there for.

    • The more detailed figurine is actually very common. It’s known as the Shakōki-dogū — it’s probably the most common one found. The one I linked to with the ear plugs is another one that’s very common.

      From what I observed, these figurines are very curious. There have been many thousands of them found, yet most of them depict very specific types of beings over and over again as though modeled after someone / something specific, and the features and symbols used (especially spirals) seemed to have been important.

    • Hi Layla. It’s a bit off topic, but what you mention about that figurine looking feminine reminds of something which I read about recently. That’s the many so called ‘Venus figurines.’ I stumbled across one on wikipedia but then found out that there’s a whole list of them.

      One could say that it’s perhaps an obvious thing to carve or something. However the likeness of these figures, how widespread they are (yet also in connected in areas of Europe), and the particular symbolic stylish features employed (such as abundance in curves— perhaps symbolising the abundance of fertile energy of the Mother goddess) all make it seem like there was a connecting understanding and view of the Mother Goddess.

      Here’s a wikipedia page on them.

      What also astonished me was the dates of some of them! Have a look. And new ones are found every now and again pushing dates back even further!

      When someone sees those dates, some might think of ‘cavemen’ doing these carvings. But to me it potentially shows to have been made by people with a deeper spiritual understanding of the power of the Mother Goddess. And the similarity of such specific figurines seems to also point to connections between these European pre-history cultures.

      I’m not sure if or how any those cultures making the Venus figurines connect to those who had the wisdom of the Sun. But for me realising that the finds of these figurines was so common, plus their incredible age, it seems to throw a bit of spanner in the works of some of the proposed histories of humanity.

      • I know what you mean Karim and it seems to me that the dating method of ancient artifacts, sculptures, art and archeology can sometimes be insufficient in determining the age of these things. I recently read a post about an ancient site where carbon dating was used to give the ancient site an age in time but as the author said that he felt based on factors he was considering that the age of the site was much older and basing its age on carbon material (dead leaves etc) found at ancient the site was not reflective of its true ages, due to other influences that carbon dating was limited to, like changes to the environment that may have followed, and so carbon dating material could be much more recent then the archeological site itself or the relic if it had been used be cultures that came afterwards. Correct me if I’m wrong here but at present there doesn’t seem to be away to date stone itself. And if there were would that only serve to record the date of the life of the stone and not those who carved it, shaped it and structured it originally?

        What is interesting is that it seems to me, and this is just my observations, is that the alignment of ancient monuments with the cosmic alignments of its time, in regards to the stars and the equinoxes and solstices, the nature of how it was created within its environment (for eg sites that once had water surrounding the site where now it is a desert), the carvings it shows of the figures back then and the relationship with other sites and artifacts around the world may seem to give us a more true gauge of how old things really may be.

        There may also be the element of keeping the age of these ancient sites and artifacts hidden, as revealing them would show a much older history of humanity, the changes that happen over time to humanity and why. I think it would influence our society a great deal if this were to be known as knowing where we come from helps us a great deal to act in the present and shape the future. If our history is misaligned then the future will be based upon that misalignment. Here is a really interesting video called Forbidden Archeology – A Hidden History of the Human Race?,

  • Interesting site – thanks Jenny – Japan certainly isn’t a country I associated with stone circles. Seems like the Religion of the Sun has touched all four corners of the earth.

    • I know, I’ve only recently heard of the stone circles there myself. Same with the many incredible megalithic structures found there — you hardly hear about these things, unless as Matthew said below you have a very specific interest in the subject and a propensity to research..

  • Thanks for pulling all of those pieces of evidence together Jenny. Those are some remarkable signs of the Religion of the Sun in Japan that are not widely known. Amazing that there’s even a reference to the children of the sun there too!

    I’d never even heard about stone circles in Japan until very recently, and it seems there’s a lot of further genetic and archeological evidence of the practice of this knowledge there to go along with the ancient sites, showing how they are connected to other places where this was practiced. It’s funny how these things are hidden in plain sight. Like a lot of locations where this was practiced, it seems the evidence is there, but it’s just not widely known and hardly talked about, or just ignored in mainstream discourse. So you never really hear about stone circles in Japan for instance, unless you have a niche interest.

    On a related note, I believe there is also evidence of the use of the swastika in ancient Japan, another one of the common symbols of the sun used around the world. It definitely looks like the Religion of the Sun was well established there in the past, as it was in many other places, with cultural connections to other regions of the world it was present.

  • This really proves once again how many cultures and continents celebrated the sun. Japan is somewhere I never expected to find such treasures.

  • Those dogu figurines are so interesting — their appearance is so unique and of course those spirals and double spirals they were decorated with is quite fascinating, especially given the Ainu myth that references the Children of the Sun.

  • Thank you. This was a very interesting article to read.

    The connections pointed out with other culture are very ‘neat’ as Justin says 😉

    It is really wonderful to be able to become aware what people in different parts of the world doing around the same times and the fact that there was an underlying knowledge and understanding, [without any internet] is mind blowing. Goes to show that knowledge goes beyond borders and even time itself.

    Thanks again!

  • Thank you Jenny for bringing the Oyu stone circles to the picture, especially for all the connections you mentioned about their relationship to the Sun in the spiritual sense.

    That mentioning of the “children of the Sun” is especially amazing! The ages mentioned there are mind-boggling though… “living in that place for 100 000 years before the children of the Sun came”? That means that even before the people of the sun came, the civilisation had already existed on Earth for quite a while. It again shows how the ancient scriptures (that describe the life existing on the planet in different cycles) may have been closer to the truth than the “modern science” that tends to depict the current civilisation as the most advanced one.

    Jomon period of Japan is quite fascinating, as that culture seems to have been so peaceful and advanced. Also lately, I came across an interesting connection between the pottery of the Jomon period, and the so-called Corded Ware culture (a prehistoric European culture also characterised by pottery with cord and rope impressions similar to the Jomon one). It seems both potteries are very similar and I have even stumbled upon a paper ( that analyses the possible origins and spread of this culture around the globe. The map included there is quite interesting as it shows the areas where this kind of pottery/culture has been found. This evidence seems to again point at possibly common origins of the ancient cultures in Asia and Europe, but also in America, as according to the paper, this type of pottery has been found there as well.

    Another common denominator seems to be the Ogam or Ogham script (an ancient Irish script) that has been unexpectedly found in some American rock art sites (, as well as at some Japanese ancient sites (

    • That link to the report on Bill McGlone’s work is very interesting Lucia!

      Ogham (“Celtic”, European based) writing found in America. And not only that, but the petroglyph is positioned on a bump in such a way that it’s most prominently viewed on the summer solstice day. And even beyond that, it reads “[We are the] People of the Sun.” and “On the day of bel, the Sun will strike here.”

      If all that is correct it’s possibly something pretty significant. Would be cool to try to decipher that Ogham my self to see if it checks out.

    • Thanks very much for the links and the additional information about the connections between the Jomon pottery and other cultures, Lucia — it’s an area I’m really interested to learn more about. Will have a read through them as soon as I can. I’ve also never heard of Ogham in Japan before, so that’s really exciting as well.

      The Children of the Sun mention is something I wasn’t specifically looking for (but of course really excited to stumble upon) — it literally jumped at me somehow in an unexpected place when I went to write this article 🙂 It’s like pieces of the puzzle are just starting to fall into place all over.

    • I have seen Ogam script used on old fashioned signs in Britain, and remember wondering about it then. Amazing that the same script has been found in the Americas.

  • Thanks for this article Jenny. It is only as this website has developed that I have been pondering Japan’s history and culture, and it’s great that you’ve found these circles.

    I find it interesting that even the name of ‘Japan’ resonates with sun symbolism:

    “Both Nippon and Nihon literally mean “the sun’s origin”, that is, where the sun originates, and are often translated as the Land of the Rising Sun” ~

    I also find it very interesting that New Zealand and Japan have strong connections to the ancient religions of the sun. If you look on the map, they are shaped rather similarly, suffer strong earthquakes, and have the vast Pacific Ocean to their east…

    Perhaps there are more connections than just these however!

    • That’s so interesting Craig, I had no idea of the allusion to the sun in its Japanese names.

      I think the land of the rising sun cannot offer a more obvious clue for anyone seeking the religion of the sun in its ancient quarters.

    • That’s interesting Craig about the alternative names of Japan. I knew it was called “the land of the rising sun”, but thought maybe it was due to its eastern location. The names Nippon/Nihon seem to provide a more specific explanation, thanks for sharing!

    • Very interesting Craig. I also had no idea about the connection some of these Japanese names had to the sun!
      Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Craig, it certainly seems like there are more connections than just these. Great work thanks for sharing.

  • Wow, that’s so interesting! Watching the videos the sites seem to be quite different from other circles in Europe for instance, how rather than spaced out standing stones they are more like rows of smaller stones. In some ways they’re almost more like the medicine wheels of the US in the way they’re constructed, I wonder if that might be another connection.

    Those dogu statues are really intriguing, and to see the connections they have to other cultures around the world makes them even more so!

    • You’re right, David. It is definitely reminiscent of the construction style to the Majoreville Medicine Wheel in Alberta, Canada, for example, which is believed to be 5000 years old. I found the sundial markers quite unique though in their layout. Thanks for drawing the connection there — just added it to the article above.

    • Very neat. I have always been interested in Japanese culture and this makes me quite curious to research more about its ancient past.

      The way that single standing stone aligns with other stones in the inner circle to mark the solstices (if I am interpreting it correctly) seems quite similar to the way the inner post of the woodhenge at Cahokia aligns with the posts of the outer circle to serve the same function.

      It is interesting with this in mind to read about the various connections you mentioned Jenny between the ancient peoples of Japan and the pre-Columbia peoples of America.

      David I also thought of “medicine wheels” when I read the description of these circles – the similarity seems to be the construction technique of piling up of smaller stones into circles with various internal features.

      • I was surprised to find the connection. I’ve heard of the Ainu and ancient America connection in the past via the Kennewick Man story, but while writing the above I was really taken aback at just how many connections actually exist there (and the things I briefly noted in the article are just the tip of the iceberg, I suspect). I have a feeling that looking into this area further will reveal many more interesting surprises and connections 🙂

        • I remember when I first saw a picture of an Ainu years ago, I was struck by how much they looked like an Australian Aboriginal. Doing some fact checking I discovered this article which seems to correlate my suspicions, but also seems to genetically confirm what you are mentioning:

          “we know that the Ainu are related to the Jomonese, and the Jomonese can be traced all the way back to Thailand 16,000 YBP. Around that time, it is thought that the Ainu in the form of the Murrayan people journeyed to Australia, forming one of the main components of the Aborigine people…

          Interestingly, ancient Amerindians from 9-12,000 YBP have an Australoid appearance. The skulls from 9000 YBP appear Ainuid or Polynesian and the earlier skulls line up with Negritos, Papuans and Aborigines. This implies that the ancient Northeast Asians or Siberians from around the Altai region who immigrated to North America 9-12,000 YBP may have been an Ainuid people.”

          This rabbit hole seems to get bigger and wider, the more you look!

    • I also noticed the connection between Majorville medicine wheel and the Oyu stone circles, mostly because they are both built using many small stones.

      One difference between them is the type of stone, and that the fact that the stone circles in Japan seem easy to notice. The site in Majorville is hidden from view – by being on a hill top and by the fact that there are other scattered stones in the area.

      I wonder if there is a connection between the two cultures. I did not find significant information about the culture who built the Majorville Medicine Wheel. There were fragments of arrow heads found on the site, but not the the type of pottery located here.

      The interesting thing about Majorville Medicine Wheel is the fact that there were multiple cultures who built upon it. I wonder if there is evidence of this here, and if the culture who created the figurines are the builders of the site.

  • Very interesting and unique figurines using symbology of the sun, and amazing to see the wider connection of such an active global culture. Thanks for posting!

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