Yuka Shichiza

PhD Student, D. Yang & G. Nicholas

Areas of interest

Ancient DNA analysis, Indigenous archaeology, Archaeology of the Ainu in Hokkaido, Japan, Ichthyoarchaeology, Environmental archaeology, Historical ecology


  • MSc: University of York, UK, 2019
  • BA with Honours degree: University of Leiden, the Netherlands, 2018


My PhD research aims at exploring ancestral and current Ainu interactions with salmon and other fish at Hokkaido, Japan through ancient DNA and Ainu community knowledge. Located in the north of Japan, Hokkaido is part of the traditional territory of Indigenous Ainu people. As the pressure from Wajin, the majority Japanese, increased over the past centuries, the economy of the Ainu people changed drastically. By recovering ancient DNA from archaeological fish remains, I am interested in reconstructing past fisheries and population genetics of local fishes prior to colonization and subsequent industrial fishing/habitat disturbance. My target species include chum salmon, pink salmon and pacific cod. Among them, chum salmon is the cultural keystone species to the current Ainu and there is an increasing demand for the recovery of Indigenous right to harvest salmon. Given these, one of my objectives is to develop research that is of benefit and interest to the Ainu People. I will also investigate and assess the community concerns about conducting ancient DNA analysis on a cultural keystone species and other fishes by constructing dialogues and conducting interviews.

MSc Dissertation

Shichiza, Y. (2019) The potential of ancient DNA extraction and analysis of soil thin section slides. MSc dissertation. University of York.

BA Thesis

Shichiza, Y. (2018) Becoming Sisamu and Having Charanke: Constructing dialogue between the Ainu and non-Indigenous physical anthropologists to move forward towards inclusive model of community-based indigenous archeology in Japan. Bachelor thesis. Leiden University. Available at: https://studenttheses.universiteitleiden.nl/handle/1887/66976


Conference Presentations:

Shichiza, Y. (2019) “Human Origins” and the Ainu: Ethical issues concerning scientific research on human remains of Indigenous Ainu people, Poster presented at Unravelling Human Origins Conference, University of York, UK 15th - 16th February 2019 

Shichiza, Y. (2019) The repatriation of Ainu human remains: The role of archaeologists and anthropologists, Podium presentation at 21st Annual Conference of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology(BABAO), Natural History Museum, London,UK 13th - 15th September 2019. Received Jane Moor Award: Best student podium presentation at BABAO annual conference.

Excavation at Hamanaka2 site, Rebun Island, Hokkaido
At Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum, Biratori, Hokkaido