Amis bamboo canoe tested for voyage to Japan

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Taipei, Aug. 3 (CNA) A Japanese anthropologist and others tried out an Amis bamboo canoe in waters off eastern Taiwan on Wednesday in preparation for a voyage to Japan's Yonaguni Island next summer.

The boat will have to travel some 110 kilometers east of Taiwan to Yonaguni in Okinawa Prefecture, the westernmost island of Japan.

Yousuke Kaifu, a researcher at Japan's National Museum of Nature and Science (NMNS), and his team used Japanese-styled paddles during their test of the Amis bamboo canoe Wednesday morning.

"It feels good," the canoeists said during the trial sail. The planned voyage to Yonaguni is part of Kaifu's research on the movement of people from Taiwan to the Ryukyu Islands on similar vessels in the Paleolithic Period about 30,000 years ago.

According to Japanese archaeologists, the early inhabitants of Japan most likely traveled tens of thousands of years ago from eastern Siberia to Hokkaido, from the Korean Peninsula to Kyushu and Honshu, and from Taiwan to the Ryukyu Islands.

The bamboo canoe, about 800 kilograms in weight, was made by a craftsman from the Amis aboriginal tribe in Taiwan. Stone tools that were found in Taitung's Changbin Township indicate human presence there about 50,000 to 5,000 years ago in the late Paleolithic Period.

Lin Chih-hsing, an assistant researcher at National Museum of Prehistory (NMP) in Taitung, said that since no human remains were found in Changbin it is difficult to determine if the inhabitants made any sea voyages.

Lin said he hoped his museum would have an opportunity to cooperate with the NMNS to learn more about Changbin Culture, as it has been called by researchers.

Kaifu and his team completed a voyage on similar vessels from Yonaguni Island to Iriomote Island, about 75 km east of Yonaguni, last month, according to his project's webpage. (By Tyson Lu and Kuo Chung-han)