Joint Research Projects

Research Group 1-3. Comparative Research on Traditional Boat-Building Techniques around the Pacific Rim


Based on the existing body of scientific studies of traditional boat building, sailing, and navigation techniques, this project takes into account the indigenous peoples’ movement of recent years and, adopting an evidentiary approach, asks how the canoe-building and navigation techniques reconstructed as part of the indigenous cultural revival are being transmitted and taught today around the Pacific Rim; it then seeks to situate the current revival of traditional boat-building in many parts of Japan within the international context provided by the indigenous peoples’ movement. It also addresses as a contemporary issue the impact of the “canoe renaissance” trend in Japan and the international community.

Concretely, along with comparative studies of the building of traditional vessels in the Pacific Rim, because of the highly symbolic nature of boats we will also consider their cultural significance. While focusing on boat building, the project will also examine the human relationship with the sea from a future-oriented perspective by considering such areas as ethnic nomenclature related to maritime culture (names of fishes, directions, etc.), fishing gear and techniques, and myths and beliefs. The contemporary significance of traditional vessels will also be considered, for example, by fieldwork to shed light on the trend of indigenous cultural revival as seen in the canoe boom that is taking place, through a process of mutual stimulation, in Oceania and along the North American coast.

A unique feature of this project is that it involves not only researchers but also, in the same capacity, film-makers with a particular interest in maritime subjects and actual boat-builders, and the research work will be completed in collaboration with them.

  Name Specialty Affiliation
PL GOTO Akira Oceanic Anthropology Nanzan University
DL HIRAI Makoto Human geography Kanagawa University
PM AKABA Masaharu Folklore  
PM ISHIMURA Tomo Archaeology Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
PM ITAI Hidenobu Material Culture the Regional Studies Centre of Okinawa University
PM ONISHI Hideyuki Anthropology Doshisha Women’s Colleage of Liberal Arts
PM KAWADA Junzo Anthropology Kanagawa University
PM KON Masaaki Mingu studies Kanagawa University
PM FUKAZAWA Yoshiki Japanese Archaeology Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
PM MONDEN Osamu Documentary TV and Video production Studio UMI, Inc.
RC SUZAWA Ikunori Restoration of Kayak/Canoe of North America I-sana Kayak
RC Syaman Rapongan Indigenous boat-builder and writer of Tao, Taiwan  
RC MIYAZAWA Kyoko Documentary TV and Video production Studio UMI, Inc.
-Project leader
-Deputy project leader
-Project member
-Research cooperator

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MEXT Approved Joint Use / Research Center

Kanagawa University
International Center for Folk Culture Studies