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Reviewed by:
  • Curve of the Hook: Yosihiko Sinoto, An Archaeologist in Polynesia by Yosihiko Sinoto, Hiroshi Aramata
  • Hiro Kurashina and Rebecca A. Stephenson
Curve of the Hook: Yosihiko Sinoto, An Archaeologist in Polynesia. Yosihiko Sinoto with Hiroshi Aramata; ed. Frank Stewart, trans. Madoka Nagado. Mānoa: A Pacific Journal 28 (1); Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2016. xxix + 205 pp., color and black-and-white photographs throughout. Paper, US $29. ISBN 978-0-8248-6623-5.

Curve of the Hook: Yosihiko Sinoto, An Archaeologist in Polynesia is an English language adaptation of a Japanese book entitled Rakuen Kokogaku by Yosihiko Sinoto and Hiroshi Aramata, which was originally published by Heibonsha Ltd., in Tokyo in 1994. Rakuen Kokogaku can be directly translated to English to mean Archaeology of Paradise or Paradise Archaeology. Until his recent passing in October 2017, Dr. Yosihiko Sinoto (henceforth Yosi) occupied the Kenneth Pike Emory Distinguished Chair in Anthropology and was a Senior Anthropologist at the Bernice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Hiroshi Aramata is a Japanese author, journalist, and translator. The Japanese edition won a prestigious book award, the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for Literature in 1996. In 1999, it was recognized as one of the best one hundred biographies about a Japanese person published in the twentieth century. In June 2017, the English language edition, Curve of the Hook, won the Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association 2017 Ka Palapala Po‘okela Award in the category of Excellence in Nonfiction.

This book is a skillfully illustrated biography of Yosihiko Sinoto. The newly edited and revised English language edition, published as a single issue of Mānoa: A Pacific Journal in 2016, features a fresh and attractive cover design, a new introduction, a number of color as well as black-and-white photographs (most of which was taken by Yosi), along with narratives not included in the Japanese edition, and personal field notes, diagrams, illustrations, and an updated bibliography.1 While the main texts of the English and Japanese editions are essentially similar in content, the texts in the English edition have been revised and expanded wherever deemed appropriate by the authors. Comparing the two editions, the Japanese edition appears more formal in the style of presentation, while the English language edition is relatively informal. The apparent distinction between the two editions may most likely be attributed to intrinsic differences in linguistic style between the two languages. The Japanese edition is 282 pages long, while the English edition is 236 pages, including the prologue and bibliographic references. The page size of the English edition is approximately 30 percent larger than the Japanese edition. The paper is of high quality, white, and coated. The Japanese edition includes an Index at the end of the volume, but the English edition is not indexed by place names or people’s names.

The cover of the English language edition incorporates an original color painting by the late Bobby Holcomb of Huahine in the Society Islands, entitled “The Kites of Mata‘ire‘a.” The painting adjoins a sepiatone portrait of Yosi photographed at Mo‘orea in the Society Islands in 1964. The photograph is rich in symbolic elements depicting traditional Polynesian culture, lifestyle, art, and architecture. The newly designed cover for the English edition is perhaps more fitting for a biography of Yosi than the nineteenth century French lithograph that graced the cover of the Japanese edition. The painting by Bobby Holcomb and the portrait of Yosi on the cover of the English edition are poignant and visually quite endearing. The book designer, Barbara Pope, should be applauded for her brilliant work throughout the volume.

The inside of the foldout front and back covers contains tributes by such well-known individuals in Oceania as Nainoa Thompson, Patrick V. Kirch, Dorothy Levy, and Patrick McCoy. A brief biography of Yosi is included [End Page 193] at the end of the foldout back cover. Though brief, the tributes given by these individuals offer broad, personal perspectives on Yosi as a very special archaeologist within the context of Polynesian archaeology. Nainoa Thompson’s tribute to Yosi genuinely sets the stage for the entire book, when he writes: “I have a very deep sense...


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