A group of Japanese researchers will use a primitive canoe to recreate an ancient sea voyage. They hope to learn how humans traveled from Taiwan to Okinawa 30 thousand years ago. The experiment will involve a journey of over 200 kilometers.
The group of archaeologists, led by Yousuke Kaifu of the National Museum of Nature and Science, previously set out for Taiwan in a vessel made of grass from Yonaguni island in Okinawa three years ago. The researchers later tested a primitive bamboo raft on a journey starting in Taiwan. Both attempts failed, as currents pushed the vessels off course. The researchers decided to embark on a rowing voyage in a cedar canoe carved using ancient tools.
Kaifu explained to reporters on Tuesday that a group of five will board the canoe and set off from eastern Taiwan as early as Tuesday of next week, when the waters are calm, and head for Yonaguni, more than 200 kilometers away. If all goes well, Kaifu said, the journey should take about 40 hours.
But he also said that to make this happen, those on board must have the strength and skill to paddle the canoe for an extended period while maintaining their balance.
Kaifu said they want to know how difficult it was for the people back then to reach Japan's shores. He added that although they have no way of knowing whether the canoe can reach Yonaguni; they have to give it a shot.