Yamato Yukihara

Yamato Yukihara
Unrecognized Antarctic claim of the Empire of Japan
1912 - ?


Historical era early 20th century
  Declared 28 January 1912
  Expedition's return to Yokohama 20 June 1912

Yamato Yukihara was a territory claimed by Japanese Army lieutenant Shirase Nobu for Japan in 1912, spanning the entirety of the Ross Ice Shelf in what is now considered part of the New Zealand claim to Antarctic territory. This claim was reportedly not taken seriously by even the government of Japan, and quickly faded into historical and political oblivion after Shirase's return.[1]


Against the scorn of the Japanese public towards fundraising, Lieutenant Shirase Nobu of the Japanese Army organized Japan's first expedition to Antarctica in 1910. He departed from Tokyo aboard the 204-ton ship Kainan Maru on the first of December. After stopping for supplies in Wellington, New Zealand on 8 February 1911, the party reached Victoria Land the following month.

An unexpected abundance of sea ice resulted in an inability to land, so the party docked in Sydney, Australia, living on the lawn of a wealthy Vaucluse resident before setting off for the Ross Sea once again in January of 1912, this time bringing 29 Sakhalin sledge dogs with them. They met Roald Amundsen's South Pole expedition near the Bay of Whales, not knowing that Amundsen and Robert Scott had already reached the pole.

The expedition was split into a coastal surveying group and a group intending to reach the South Pole. The South Polar group, compared of Shirase and six other men, traversed the Ross Ice Shelf, reaching a farthest south point at 80°5' S, 156°37' E on 28 January 1912, claiming all of the Ross Ice Shelf for Japan as Yamato Yukihara (lit. "The Japan Snow Plain"). Shirase returned to Japan on 20 June 1912. Despite the lack of a lasting impact scientifically or historically, the Shirase expedition is notable for having no fatalities among its members during its stay in Antarctica.[2]


  1. "The Antarctica seen 100 years ago by the Shirase Japanese Antarctic Expedition". Yomiuri Shimbun. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  2. Rubin, Jeff (2008). Antarctica. Ediz. Inglese. Lonely Planet. pp. 55–56.

Coordinates: 80°05′S 156°37′E / 80.083°S 156.617°E / -80.083; 156.617

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