Japanese team to simulate ancestors’ crossing from Taiwan

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) - A team of National Museum of Nature and Science researchers and others plans to attempt to row a dugout canoe from Taiwan to Japan’s westernmost point.

A team of National Museum of Nature and Science researchers and others plans to attempt to row a dugout canoe from Taiwan to Japan’s westernmost point, recreating the journey the ancestors of the Japanese people might have taken about 30,000 years ago.

 Their goal is to cross from Taiwan to Yonagunijima island in Okinawa Prefecture sometime between June 25 and July 13.

 Will the team be able to recreate the voyage the nation’s ancestors are thought to have successfully completed? 

“We want to take on the challenge of our ancestors,” one of the members of the team said at a Tuesday press conference in Tokyo.

 Japan’s ancestors are thought to have reached the archipelago via three routes — from Siberia to Hokkaido, from the Korean Peninsula to Tsushima and from Taiwan to Okinawa.

 This is an attempt to try and verify the crossing took place during a glacial stage, when sea levels were lower and Taiwan was part of the mainland.

 The plan is to leave sometime after June 25, when a period of mild weather is expected following the rainy season, from northern Taitung County in eastern Taiwan.

 The team will attempt to reach Yonagunijima, located about 200 kilometers away, without the use of maps, a compass, watches or other modern equipment.

 The biggest difficulty is expected to be crossing through the Kuroshio current, which flows northward between Taiwan and Yonagunijima at a speed of 1 to 2 meters per second.

 Previous attempts in grass boats and bamboo rafts have experienced problems because of the current. 

 The dugout canoe to be used in this attempt is a speedy boat about 7.6 meters long that was fashioned from Japanese cedar grown in Noto, Ishikawa Prefecture, using reproductions of the stone axes used at the time. Five men and women who have experience kayaking at sea are to do the rowing.

 If things go well, the journey is expected to take 30 to 40 hours, though they will need to row continuously, overcoming heat, fatigue and drowsiness. 

 The team is to be led by Yosuke Kaifu, 50, a research group leader at the museum’s Anthropology Department.

 “Will the rowers be able to last [the journey]? Is it really possible? We won’t know until we try,” he said.

Photos

No photos has been attached.

Graphics