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Ancient Ships of Japan

Hiroaki Miyashita
Thesis: August 2006
Chair:  Castro

   Ancient ships of Japan, which are little known outside of Japan, are presented based on the studies of past researchers, as well as a comprehensive analysis of archaeological remains. The process of development from logboats to extended logboats or semibuilt-up ships, and finally to built-up ships is traced. This study covers evidence from the Early Jomon period (4000 - 3000 B.C.E.) through the Kofun period (300 - 700 C.E.). A large number of logboat remains date to the Jomon period, and it is these logboats which become the foundation of later Japanese ships. The number of ship remains from the Yayoi period diminishes. Therefore, iconographic evidence, mainly clay ship figures and drawings, are used in order to reconstruct the ships from that time. This thesis is an account of what is presently known about the ancient watercraft of Japan, based on the existing ethnographic literature, the archaeological record, and iconographic sources.

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