Canoers retrace ancient sea route from Taiwan to Japan

2019/07/09 19:02:39 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Photo courtesy of National Museum of Prehistory

Photo courtesy of National Museum of Prehistory

Taipei, July 9 (CNA) A crew of five people arrived in Yonaguni Island in Japan on Tuesday aboard a dugout canoe after paddling some 200 kilometers from the east coast of Taiwan, retracing a route believed to have been taken by explorers some 30,000 years ago.

The five canoers, one Taiwanese and four Japanese, paddled the boat for about 40 hours, navigating only by the stars, sun and winds, from Taitung on Taiwan's east coast to Yonaguni in Okinawa, according to Taiwan's National Museum of Prehistory (NMP).

The expedition, organized jointly by the NMP and Japan's National Museum of Nature and Science, began Sunday with the departure of the 7.6-meter dugout canoe from Taitung's Changbin Township with one woman and four men onboard.

The canoe, made of Japanese cedar wood, proved strong enough to withstand the 200-kilometer journey on the open seas, riding big waves and recovering from at least one instance of veering off course, to arrive safely in Yonaguni on Tuesday morning, according to the NMP.

The expedition, named "Across Kuroshio: Revisiting navigation from Taiwan to Okinawa 30,000 years ago," proved that people in the Paleolithic age were capable of navigating the Kuroshio current, a surface current that flows northward from the Philippines along the coasts of Taiwan and Japan and into the North Pacific, the NMP said.

The voyage this week was the third attempt in two years by the two museums to replicate Old Stone Age travel along the route with the use of prehistoric vessels.

In 2017 and 2018, the vessels were made of Taiwan bamboo but were not sturdy enough to make the entire journey from Taiwan to Japan, as explorers are believed to have done in the Old Stone Age.

(By Lee Shien-feng and Chi Jo-yao)
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