Using drone to survey difficult Ainu chashi fort and pit dwelling cluster remains

Survey drone used in the surveying of the Hokkaido government designated historical site "Akkeshi Kamuiwa Chashi and Pit Cluster"

Eastern Hokkaido’s Akkeshi Maritime Affairs Memorial Hall is using cutting edge survey technology employing an unmanned drone to conduct otherwise difficult onsite surveys for Hokkaido-designated historic Ainu chashi fort remains and pit dwelling cluster remains to aid in creating reproductions. A surveying company flew a drone over the old ruins around the northern shore of Lake Akkeshi for five days up to May 14, recorded dips and peaks in the ground surface, and collected topographic data.

This historical site, which was officially designated by the Hokkaido government in 1966, is called “Akkeshi Kamuiwa Chashi and Pit Cluster”. It is a 160-hectare area of ruins from the Zoku-Jomon period (approximately the first century BCE) to the Ainu Culture period (approximately 16th-18th century CE). It is made up of five Ainu chashi fort remains atop a 20 to 30-meter cliff and the remains of over 700 pit dwellings built by indigenous people before the Ainu.

According to the Maritime Affairs Memorial Hall, the historical site has no forest paths, and the presence of bears has kept onsite surveys from happening for about 30 years. Under a desire to, “uncover the whole picture, deepen understanding of Ainu culture, and provide information to use as a tourism resource,” the Memorial Hall has allocated 14 million yen as its survey budget for the first fiscal year of the project, and used Ainu Policy Promotion Fund aid from the national government for the current fiscal year.

Archeology specialist and Memorial Hall curator Odajima Ken explained, “Chashi were forts of the Ainu people, and sacred ground.” He expressed his expectations, saying, “We might find new chashi ruins and pit dwelling clusters.” The models will be built based on the data, with work slated to start from the next fiscal year onward.


Akkeshi Maritime Affairs Memorial Hall