The Japanese South Polar Expedition 1910–12: A Record of Antarctica [南極記 Nankyoku-ki]: Shirase, Norbu & the Japanese Antarctic Expedition Support Committee (trans by Lara Dagnell and Hilary Shibata)
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The Japanese South Polar Expedition 1910–12: A Record of Antarctica [南極記 Nankyoku-ki]

Author(s): Shirase, Norbu & the Japanese Antarctic Expedition Support Committee (trans by Lara Dagnell and Hilary Shibata)

Copyright: 2011, UK
Specifications: 1st, 8vo, pp.414, 3 color & 71 bw photos, 4 color & 33 bw illus, 2 color maps, appendicies, red cloth
Condition: signed Shibata, issued w/o dj, cloth new

Now translated for the first time into English, this is often called the ‘official account’ of the Japanese Antarctic Expedition (JAE) 1910-12. The JAE, under the leadership of army lieutenant Nobu Shirase was the first exploration of Antarctic territory by Japan. After initial scepticism about the expedition they sailed from Tokyo on 29 November 1910, in Kainan-maru, a vessel only 100 feet in length. They arrived in Wellington on 8 February 1911 and three days later departed for the Antarctic.
Although originally intending to try for the South Pole, Shirase realised they were too far behind Amundsen and Scott, and he opted instead for scientific exploration on King Edward VII Land. The entire trip south was dogged by poor weather and when the coast of Victoria Land was finally sighted conditions were so bad that a landing was impossible. They sailed on through the Ross Sea only to find even worse ice and soon it was impossible to go any further. Shirase ordered the crew to turn the ship northward for Australia. They arrived in Sydney on 1 May, 1911 and were initially greeted with suspicion and hostility. Captain Nomura went back to Japan, with the secretary to the expedition, returning some five months later with provisions, ships’ parts and other equipment.
During the following season a second attempt was made to reach an Antarctic landfall, with the specific objective of exploring King Edward VII Land. At the Great Ice Barrier they met Amundsen's ship Fram, which was waiting in the Bay of Whales for the return of Amundsen's South Pole party. Seven men were landed on the Barrier and a ‘Dash Patrol’ journeyed southward to 80°05'S, at which point adverse weather and lack of food and time forced their return. Meanwhile the ship landed another party on the coast of King Edward VII Land, where an exploration of the lower slopes of the Alexandra Range was carried out. In mid-February Kainan-maru returned to Japan, reaching Yokohama on 20 June 1912. The expedition had sailed some 27,000 miles since leaving Japan and despite not reaching the Pole, they had achieved many of their other goals. There was a tremendous reception upon their return to Tokyo. Nobu Shirase died in 1946. Largely overlooked and never before translated into English, this early adventure laid the foundation for the Japan Antarctic Research Expeditions which began in 1956. This translation, originally published in Japan in 1913, fills an important void in the English-language literature of Antarctic exploration. See Ross 1.5.1.


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