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Wanted: Ancient Yayoi man look-alike for contest in west Japan

This image shows the bust of the "Aoya Yayoi man" reconstructed by the Tottori Prefectural Government based on DNA collected from ancient bones. (Photo courtesy of the Tottori Prefectural Government)

TOTTORI -- The western Japan prefecture of Tottori has launched a look-alike contest for people across the country whose faces resemble one reconstructed from the DNA of ancient bones excavated at ruins in the prefectural capital, and will invite the winners to the prefecture.

    The Tottori Prefectural Government reconstructed the face of the "Aoya Yayoi man" based on DNA collected from the skull of a man from the Yayoi period (dating back some 1,800 years) excavated at the Aoya Kamijichi site in the city of Tottori. They recently unveiled a bust of the figure.

    The prefectural government began searching for "look-alikes," claiming that the Yayoi man had the face of man who could be found anywhere in the modern world. The reconstructed man is of prehistoric Jomon descent on his father's side, and of those who came to Japan during the Yayoi period on his mother's side. He therefore has both the deeply carved features of a Jomon period man and the flat nose of a Yayoi period man.

    This image shows the bust of the "Aoya Yayoi man" wearing a suit. (Photo courtesy of the Tottori Prefectural Government)

    Tottori Gov. Shinji Hirai commented, "His face is so familiar that you would think it was a young man from some place nearby." The prefecture, which has been engaged in the study of the Yayoi people and the preservation of archaeological sites for about 20 years, is promoting itself as the "Tottori Yayoi Kingdom," and hopes to gain further momentum by seeking the look-alikes.

    Applications will be accepted until Dec. 19, by email or mail. Winners will be invited to join a tour of the Aoya Kamijichi ruins around May next year. The prefectural government is also receiving public suggestions for a name for the Aoya Yayoi man, and the winner will be presented with a gift including wild game meat from the prefecture, which was eaten by people of the period.

    For application guidelines and inquiries, please visit the website of the prefectural government's Totori Yayoi Kingdom promotion division at (in Japanese).

    (Japanese original by Hirofumi Nohara, Tottori Bureau)

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