The Japan Times, February 10, 1999

Oldest oar unearthed from Ishikawa ruins

KANAZAWA, Ishikawa Pref. (Kyodo) Archaeologists said Tuesday that they have unearthed Japan's oldest oar, believed to date back about 6,000 years, in Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast.
The oar was unearthed from beneath a shell mound in the Mibiki ruins in the town of Tatsuruhama, the Ishikawa Archaeological Foundation said.
The find, believed to date back to the beginning of the Jomon period (circa l0,000 B.C. to 300 B.C.), is about 300 years older than Japan's previous oldest oar, unearthed in the town of Mikata in neighboring Fukui Prefecture, the archaeologists said.
The oar, which was soaked in fresh underground water, appears to have been made from a Japanese nutmeg tree using stoneware, they said.
While the length of the oar as found is only 63.4 cm, since most of the handle is missing, the original length of the specimen is estimated to have been about 130 cm, they said.
The blade of the oar measures 9.7 cm wide and 38 cm long.
Some specialists, remarking on the similarity of the oar to present day designs, say the technique of making oars in the Jomon period must have been advanced.
"There is strong possibility of finding a canoe that will prove to be the oldest ever found in Japan," Yoshitaka Kojima, head of the investigation department at the center.