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MATSUE, Shimane Pref. (Kyodo) A citizens’ group in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, on Saturday launched a prototype dugout boat into a lake in preparation for re-enacting an ancient sea voyage between Japan and the Korean Peninsula.

The group, which held a launching ceremony at Lake Shinji, plans to carry out the actual sea journey next summer from the South Korean city of Pohang to the Shimane Peninsula.

A former elementary school teacher, Akira Nishikori, 61, came up with the idea of tracing the ancient journey after learning of a Pohang legend indicating exchanges between Japan and the Korean Peninsula. With about 20 supporters, Nishikori spent about six months carving out the trunk of a giant fir tree to build the 10-meter boat.

The shortest distance between Pohang and the Shimane Peninsula is about 340 km. Because the boat will be rowed, the group will analyze and check the safety of possible routes before next summer.

The project is aimed at helping boost friendly exchanges between Japan and South Korea.

The project is being warmly received in Pohang. Members of the municipal government attended the launching ceremony.

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