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Japan ancestor crossing recreation completes paddle from Taiwan to Okinawa

Japanese and Taiwanese paddlers from two museums successfully replicate a hypothetical human migration between Taiwan and Okinawa about 30,000 years ago, by arriving at a southern Japanese island in a dugout canoe on July 9, 2019. (Kyodo)

TOKYO -- A dugout canoe that departed Taiwan on July 7 reached its island destination in Japan's southernmost prefecture of Okinawa on July 9, successfully replicating a voyage thought to have been made by ancestors of the Japanese people some 30,000 years ago.

To reach Yonaguni Island, at least 200 kilometers away, project members used the sun and stars to navigate.

Five paddlers -- four men and one woman -- between the ages of 40-64 set off in the 7.55-meter-long canoe from Taiwan around 1:38 p.m. (2:38 p.m. Japan time), in the project organized by bodies including Japan's National Museum of Nature and Science.

The team chose to depart from the coast of Wushibi in southeastern Taiwan since the fast-moving Kuroshio Current, which runs between Taiwan and Yonaguni Island, flows northwards past the point.

Good weather on the night of July 7 and July 8 allowed the canoe to travel at several kilometers per hour on a route approximating the shortest way to Yonaguni. The canoe was created with materials and skills that people may have been using 30,000 years ago.


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