Baikal Archaeology Project

Archaeological Fieldwork on Rebun Island, Japan 2011

Information for Interested Participants

Dates: July 1 to July 31, 2011
Application Deadline: May 13, 2011

The Baikal-Hokkaido Archaeology Project is a joint venture between the University of Alberta (Canada) and Hokkaido University (Japan) with the involvement of several international partners. Summer 2011 fieldwork involves the excavation of Funadomari and preliminary reconnaissance of Hamanaka.

View of Rebun Coast and Funadomari town from the Funadomari archaeological site

Funadomari is located approximately 100 m from the small hotel where project members will be staying in the town of Funadomari. Previous excavations of this site have revealed two grave clusters, each with 10 to 12 individuals.

It is anticipated that an additional cluster will be identified this year with the use of ground penetrating radar (GPR) to assist in pinpointing the graves.

View from Hamanaka, looking East

Hamanaka is a one to two kilometer hike from Funadomari. It is a multi-component shell midden with graves ranging in age from the Ainu to Jomon periods. Work at this site will be restricted to preliminary reconnaissance that will likely involve the digging of test pits and the use of GPR.

Volunteers will be expected to take part in the daily operation of the dig and will receive intensive training in a variety of fieldwork methods including: excavation and documentation techniques, data collection protocols, topographic survey, GPR, identification, removal, and curation of human osteological material.

1. Previous excavation experience is not necessary but priority will be given to those students with archaeology as a major.
2. All volunteers will be required to sign a waiver before they can participate.

Travel to Japan, will be the financial responsibility of the volunteer. You will also be asked to make your own travel arrangements, which is easily accomplished through a travel agent. The cost of airfare from Edmonton to Wakkanai is approximately $2000, but specific prices vary depending on the chosen route. We can offer some advice if necessary. The particulars of the trip are at the volunteer's discretion. Each participant must be able to carry his/her own luggage, however. Do not pack more than you can transport on your own.

Google Earth Image showing Wakkanai on Hokkaido and Rebun and Rishiri Islands

All participants will be expected to meet up with project members at the airport in Wakkanai on June 30th, 2011.

From there, we will be taking a ferry from Wakkanai to Kafuka and a bus from Kafuka to Funadomari. This bus and ferry will be arranged and paid for by the Baikal-Hokkaido Archaeology Project. However, a flat fee of no more than $500 CAD will be required from each participant to help cover car rental costs for the duration of the season.

Kafuka Harbour

Accommodations will be 100m from the Funadomari site in a small family-run hotel. It is a Japanese style hotel with a maximum of two people per room. Breakfast and dinner are provided. Rooms and meals will be paid for by the project. All excavation supplies will be provided by the project.

Participants should expect a Japanese cultural experience as the accommodations and provided food are not westernized. For those with allergies, please note that this also means most of the provided food will include seafood of all kinds.

Inland lake and camp ground in Funadomari, view from site

The hotel is in the vicinity of a beach and a small inland lake, which has a camp ground where additional showers, sinks, and toilets can be found.

While our accommodations do not currently have internet access, the project hopes to set up wireless service to allow project members to have access while there.

While Japan is on 110 voltage they do not have three-pronged outlets or outlets that accommodate polarized plugs. Simple, non-polarized, North-American plugs should work without a problem.

Please note two important considerations. First, Japan is a cash-based culture. It is possible to obtain cash from banking machines from all postal service outlets and from all 7-11 stores. However, the smaller the business the less likely they are to accept credit cards. It is strongly recommended that participants arrive with the equivalent of $200 CAD in Japanese Yen.

Second, non-Japanese cell phones DO NOT work in Japan even with the purchase of a local SIM card or through use of a cracked phone. If you wish to have phone access while in Japan, you can purchase calling cards for use with public phones or rent a cell phone from services offered in international airports. Though it is also possible to buy a local Japanese pay-as-you-go cell phone, these have operating systems in Japanese and top-up service is also in Japanese. It can be difficult for those unable to read or speak the language to use these services.

If you would like further information about Japanese customs and travel facts about Japan, please see the following websites:

Participants who are interested in further academic opportunities in Japan may be interested in the Hokkaido University Short-Term Exchange Program (HUSTEP). A limited number of brochures for this program are available to students in Edmonton. For further information on this project, please visit

Medical Considerations
Before embarking on an excavation such as ours, it is necessary to consider your overall health. Fieldwork is just that: work. You must be prepared to spend long hours excavating in uncomfortable positions (i.e., crouched). We also have a large amount of gear to move to and from the site, and this is also physically demanding. Given these considerations, you should ensure that you are healthy and in good physical shape if you plan to join us.

Participants should obtain any necessary medical treatment (e.g. vaccinations) on their own prior to the trip. Inquiries should be made in advance because some treatments need to be administered early. Medical insurance for the period abroad must also be purchased. Students will be required to sign a liability waiver.

Deadlines and Other Important Dates
Application Deadline: May 13, 2011.

Successful candidates will be notified by May 31, 2011. Others will be placed on a waiting list.

If your passport is due to expire prior to, during, or soon after your travel period, please take the necessary steps to ensure that your passport is up to date before your departure.

We will be leaving for Rebun Island from Wakkanai on June 30th, 2011 and returning July 31, 2011. Participants are welcome to stay in Japan after the end of fieldwork but at their own expense. If any volunteers wish to do so and wish to stay in Sapporo, the project can assist in finding accommodations through Hokkaido University.

For more information
Baikal Archaeology Project
Department of Anthropology
13-15 H.M. Tory Building
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB
T6G 2H4
Telephone: (780) 492-9269
Fax: (780) 492-5273

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