KANZAKI, Saga Pref. -- Ever since their discovery was first announced in 1989, the Yoshinogari ruins, widely recognized in Japan as one of the oldest-known communities surrounded by moats, have been providing visitors information about ancient Japanese society.

"I think we can say from the findings so far that whoever reigned here had enormous power and attracted people and commodities," said Tadaaki Shichida, 47, a Saga Prefectural Board of Education official and chief researcher of the ruins. "Some may even have come here to be protected from enemies."

Yoshinogari is considered one of the ministates that prospered during the Yayoi Period (B.C. 250-250). It was discovered in 1986 when the area was being surveyed for a housing development.