Yosi Sinoto has spent his whole life dedicated to the traditions and history of the Pacific people. I have a very deep sense of gratitude, respect, and aloha for him because he has dedicated his whole life to the protection, preservation, and dignity of Hawaiian and Pacific cultures and traditions.
Yosihiko Sinoto is one of the pioneers of modern archaeology in Polynesia and the excavator of key sites in Hawai’i, the Marquesas, and the Society Islands. His innovative and painstaking analysis of fishhooks, in particular, showed how these seemingly mundane objects could open windows to the past.
Curve of the Hook is a richly illustrated biography of Yosihiko Sinoto, one of the leading figures in Polynesian archaeology. In this book-length interview with Hiroshi Aramata, Sinoto shares cherished memories and recounts some of his many accomplishments, such as the first systematic analysis and classification of Polynesian fishhooks and the restoration of marae in the Society Islands. Beyond all of the scientific achievements, the reader will learn that Sinoto was far ahead of his time. The way that he conducted his fieldwork was community-based, endearing him to the indigenous people of the islands—and this, perhaps, is one of his most important and lasting contributions to the field of Polynesian archaeology.
We are pleased to announce the publication of Curve of the Hook, the long-awaited book on the life and research of Yosihiko Sinoto. For nearly six decades, Dr. Sinoto has conducted field research on every island group across the Pacific. His work and discoveries fundamentally changed what is known about early Polynesian migration, ancient ocean voyaging and navigation, sacred places, and the everyday life of the Pacific’s indigenous people. Due to this research and Dr. Sinoto’s passionate aloha for the people of the Pacific, we now know, through empirical evidence, the extent to which Oceania is a single, vast community. Its members share kinship not only with one another, but also with the peoples of Asia and North America.
Among Dr. Sinoto’s extraordinary accomplishments is his 1972 discovery of an ancient canoe-building workshop, buried for a millennium, on Huahine Island. At the same site in 1977, he unearthed the remains of a large Tahitian voyaging canoe; previously, such magnificent Polynesian canoes, capable of sailing vast distances, were known only through legends, chants, and artists’ renderings. The material evidence of Polynesia’s impressive cultural achievements before Western contact—along with Dr. Sinoto’s restorations of sacred sites—helped encourage a cultural reawakening on many Eastern Polynesian islands, as well as renewed interest in Hawaiian navigation and voyaging. His study and restoration of marae (religious structures) in Tahiti during the last forty years have focused on cultural and environmental preservation, particularly on Huahine.
Dr. Sinoto’s accomplishments have been recognized internationally. In 1995, the Emperor of Japan presented him with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, for Hawaiian and Polynesian studies. The French Polynesian government awarded him the Knighthood Insignia, Order of Tahiti Nui, Chevalier, in 2000. The Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai‘i named him a Living Treasure in 2002. Dr. Sinoto was also recognized by the Historic Hawai‘i Foundation in 2005 for lifetime achievement in the area of preservation and archaeological work, and the Bishop Museum awarded him the Robert J. Pfeiffer Medal for his exceptional contributions to the heritage of Hawai‘i and its people.
The introduction to Curve of the Hook is by Dr. Eric Komori, longtime associate of Dr. Sinoto and principal of T. S. Dye & Colleagues. Dr. Komori specializes in geographic information systems (GIS) databases and was responsible for the design and implementation of the State’s Historic Sites GIS. Prior to that, he worked for many years at Bishop Museum. He has kept alive his association with Dr. Sinoto’s investigation of Huahine Island in the Society Islands.