Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A dugout canoe left the eastern coast of Taiwan for the Okinawa Prefecture island of Yonaguni on Sunday afternoon, in a project to reproduce a journey that brought early settlers to the Japanese archipelago over 30,000 years ago.
The canoe, powered by veteran paddlers, needs to cover the distance of at least some 200 kilometers before reaching the island.
It is scheduled to arrive at the island in about a day and a half if things go smoothly, according to the National Museum of Nature and Science, which leads the project. The trip may be canceled depending on weather and ocean conditions.
The canoe with five people aboard is about 7.5 meters long, up to 70 centimeters wide and weighs an estimated 350 kilometers. It is being accompanied by another ship to ensure its safety.
The trip relies on the stars and other natural phenomena for guidance without using maps, compasses and watches, though the canoe is loaded with water and food.
Previous attempts used boats made of bundled grass and bamboo rafts.
In a voyage using grass boats in 2016 that set out from Yogaguni Island, the voyagers were unable to reach another Okinawa island of Iriomote, their intended destination, after failing to pick up enough speed.
In an attempt using bamboo rafts off the southeastern coast of Taiwan in 2017, they were not fast enough. A dugout canoe is fast enough to withstand strong currents, according to researchers involved in the project.Speech