Life Strategies of Hunter-Gatherers: A Comparative Social History of The Indigenous Peoples of Borneo and Jomon-Period Japan

  • Kentaro Kanazawa
Keywords: Comparative social history, hunter-gatherers, indigenous peoples, life-strategies, sustainable society


The characteristic of the Jomon period in Japan is that it lasted for a long time. Traditionally, this has been explained solely by the heteronomous factor that the transmission of agricultural culture from the continent was delayed, but in recent years we have come to appreciate the potential of Jomon society itself. This study compares the social history of the hunter-gatherers of Borneo with the Jomon-period people of the Japanese archipelago focusing on their life strategies, that is, their behavior in selecting livelihoods and lifestyles in order to survive as a group in response to changes in the natural or social environment. Both the Borneo and Jomon-period peoples aspired to a nomadic lifestyle with low population density in a rich natural environment. They are basically self-sufficient in food, and in the case of the Penan people they have been able to secure food from plants called the sago palms, and from tree nuts in the case of the Jomon people. A barter market called “Tamu” was a place of exchange that became established in nature and society, and at the same time it was a meeting place and a place of cultural celebration. Similarly, social networks between regional groups had already been formed during the Jomon period.


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How to Cite
Kanazawa, K. (2021). Life Strategies of Hunter-Gatherers: A Comparative Social History of The Indigenous Peoples of Borneo and Jomon-Period Japan. Journal of Borneo-Kalimantan, 7(2), 28-39. Retrieved from