Kuji Amber Museum
Amber came to be known by a wider public after the release of the movie, Jurassic Park. In the story, the fossils of mosquitos that absorbed dinosaur blood trapped in amber are used to extract dinosaur DNA and recreate the once-extinct creatures in the modern day. Amber from the Kuji area in fact dates precisely to the late Cretaceous period in the Mesozoic Era, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. In recent years, insect fossils have been discovered in amber, with paleontologists, genetic engineers, and other researchers taking an interest in the material. The Kuji Amber Museum gives a wide look at amber, this precious stone which is a veritable time capsule of an ancient era which is lost to us.
Kuji Amber Museum
Kokujicho 19-156-133, Kuji, Iwate Prefecture, 028-0071, Japan
Tel: +81-194-59-3831 Fax: +81-194-59-3515
9:00–17:00 Entrance open until 16:30
The museum is closed;
- during the New Year Holiday (December 31–January 1)
- the last day of February
Adult 500 yen (400 yen)
Elementary and Junior High School Students 200 yen (150 yen)
*Price in a parenthesis is for group visitors (20 people or more)
Exhibits entitled “A message from the ancients” and “People and amber” explore the stone’s history. See exhibits of amber from around the world.
Exhibit Space (1st Floor)
A message from the ancients
Amber was produced when sap from ancient trees was secreted into the soil. It is effectively “fossilized resin.” Many people associate this with pine resin, but the sap that created resin is not only from coniferous trees; a lot of amber comes from broadleaf trees. Furthermore, amber does not only come in whiskey-colored varieties; it can be found in red, blue, green, and more, with about 250 different colors worldwide. The amber produced in the Kuji region dates to the late Cretaceous period in the Mesozoic Era, a time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Of the amber used in decorative ornaments and jewelry, it is considered the world’s oldest. In recent years, there have been ongoing discoveries of insect and feather fossils in Kuji Amber, with paleontologists and entomologists from Japan and around the globe taking a renewed interest in fossilized DNA.
This specimen of amber with large insect specimens from the late Eocene period of the Cenozoic Era (about 45 million years ago) is extremely rare.
World’s first, world’s oldest
Bird dorsal feather fossil
Taneichi-machi, Kunohe-gun, Iwate
Late Cretaceous Santonian period, Mesozoic Era: 87 million years ago
In March of 1997, we held a press conference about this fossil, and it was featured nationwide in newspapers and on television.
Exhibit Space (2nd Floor)
People and amber
Around the world, amber continues to be found in ruins dating to 10,000+ years ago. Recently, the world’s oldest amber beads were discovered in Kashiwadai at Chitose, Hokkaido. Dating to 20,000 years old, they drew attention. In Europe, there was an “amber route” between the Baltic coast and the Mediterranean, with amber dating to 3,000 BCE. In Japan, many jewels, beads, and gems made from amber have been found in ruins of former persons of note in the Nara Basin. Recently, it has been found that many of these artifacts are made from Kuji amber, and archaeologists are seeking to uncover a unique Japanese “amber route” by which Kuji amber would have been transported to the Yamato domain during Japan’s Kofun period.
Amber comma-shaped jewel (replica)
From the burial mounds of important figures in the Kinai region have been found many amber beads.
Amber pillow (replica)
Burial mound zone #3, Nara Tatsuta Goho-yama
Discovered at a burial mound (7th century) of Prince Shotoku. Forensics revealed this amber to have come from Kuji.