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Okinawans may have originated from Taiwan

Early settlers in Okinawa might have originated from Taiwan based on anthropological evidence

A photo of a Japanese family from Okinawa taken in early 1900s.

A photo of a Japanese family from Okinawa taken in early 1900s. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Taipei (Taiwan News)—The first people that set foot on Okinawa, an island in Japan, more than 30,000 years ago, might have sailed there on bamboo rafts from Taiwan, according to studies by Japanese anthropologists.

Chief anthropologist Yousuke Kaifu of Japan's National Museum of Nature and Science hypothesized the ancestors of today's Okinawans might have been from Taiwan based on human remains, DNA, sociology and Paleolithic sites found on the islands, as well as other factors.

After examining skeletons and other artifacts found from Paleolithic sites in Okinawa some 30,000 years ago, Japanese anthropologists found the items were closely related to those found from the Changbin Culture (長濱文化) in Baixing Caves in Taitung County.

To ensure the rafts are authentically the same as those used by early migrants, Kaifu visited Taiwan's Amis aboriginal tribe in August 2016 to learn how to build traditional bamboo rafts to cross the Kuroshiro Current that circulates between the two islands.

The National Museum of Prehistory in Taitung County signed a special project agreement with Kaifu that allows the research team to use materials collected from nearby mountain regions in Taitung County, such as wood, bamboo, calameae and other needed materials.

Kaifu signed a special project partnership with the Forestry Bureau's branch in Taitung County so he can collect native plant material for the raft from the forests in Taitung.

His team is permitted to construct the raft in front of the museum plaza from March 21-April 20, 2017, and kick off test trials of the rafts starting in June.

Volunteers are needed to build and test the bamboo raft, and those interested should contact the National Museum of Prehistory.

Kaifu first announced the ambitious plan to reenact the 30,000 year old migratory act using primitive reed rafts and paddles last February to find out how early migrants crossed the sea, raising 26.38 million Japanese Yen (US$230,928.17) through a crowdfunding site.

The project to reconstruct prehistoric boats earlier settlers from Taiwan used to cross the Kuroshiro Current to Okinawa is scheduled to end by 2019.

Updated : 2021-12-01 21:57 GMT+08:00