Secret Japanese Settlement in British Columbia

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Dishes and bottles found at the site in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. (Bob Muckle)

Hidden Japanese Settlement Found in Forests of British Columbia

by Brigit Katz Smithsonian.com

In 2004, archaeology professor Robert Muckle was alerted to a site within the forests of British Columbia’s North Shore mountains, where a few old cans and a sawblade had been discovered. He suspected the area was once home to a historic logging camp, but he did not anticipate that he would spend the next 14 years unearthing sign after sign of a forgotten Japanese settlement—one that appears to have been abruptly abandoned.

Brent Richter of the North Shore News reports that Muckle, an instructor at Capilano University in Vancouver, and his rotating teams of archaeology students have since excavated more than 1,000 items from the site. The artifacts include rice bowls, sake bottles, teapots, pocket watches, buttons and hundreds of fragments of Japanese ceramics. Muckle tells Smithsonian that the “locations of 14 small houses … a garden, a wood-lined water reservoir, and what may have been a shrine,” were also discovered, along with the remnants of a bathhouse—an important fixture of Japanese culture.

The settlement sits within an area now known as the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, located around 12 miles northeast of Vancouver.

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