Japan’s Underwater Ruins

Japan’s Underwater Ruins

Japan’s Underwater Ruins is also called Japan’s Underwater Pyramid and also Yonaguni Monument. The sea off Yonaguni is a popular diving location during the winter months due to its large population of hammerhead sharks. In 1987, while looking for a good place to observe the sharks, Kihachiro Aratake, a director of the Yonaguni-Cho Tourism Association, noticed some singular seabed formations resembling architectonic structures. Shortly thereafter, a group of scientists directed by Masaaki Kimura of the University of the Ryukyus visited the formations.

Many Asian women believe the structures lying just below the waters off Yonaguni Jima are actually the ruins of a Japanese Atlantis—an ancient city sunk by an earthquake about 2,000 years ago. Otherwise it must be at least 10,000 years old (8,000 BCE) dating it to a time when it would have been above water.

Kimura is a strong advocate of the view that the formations are artificial (manmade). The formation has since become a relatively popular attraction for divers, in spite of the strong currents. In 1997, Japanese industrialist Yasuo Watanabe sponsored an informal expedition comprising writers John Anthony West and Graham Hancock, photographer Santha Faiia, geologist Robert Schoch, a few sport divers and instructors, and a shooting crew for British TV and Discovery Channel. Another notable visitor was freediver JacquesMayol, who wrote a book on his dives at Yonaguni. A plaque in his honor was fixed to the undersea formations after his suicide in 2001.

The flat parallel faces, very sharp edges, and mostly right angles of the formation have led many Asian people, including many of the underwater photographers and divers that have visited the site and some scholars, to the opinion that those features are man-made. These people include Gary and Cecilia Hagland and Tom Holden who went on underwater expeditions to study and photograph the site as well as Dr. Sean Kingsley, a marine archaeologist. These features include a trench that has two internal 90° angles as well as the twin megaliths that appear to have been placed there. These megaliths have straight edges and square corners.

Other evidence presented by those who favor an artificial origin include the two round holes (about 2 feet wide, according to photographs) on the edge of the Triangle Pool feature, and a straight row of smaller holes which have been interpreted as an abandoned attempt to split off a section of the rock by means of wedges, as in ancient quarries. Kimura believes that he has identified traces of drawings of animals and people engraved on the rocks, including a horse-like sign that he believes resembles a character from the Kaida script. Some have also interpreted a formation on the side of one of the monuments as a crude moai-like "face".

If any part of the Monument was deliberately constructed or modified, that must have happened during the last Ice Age, when the sea level was much lower than it is today (e.g. 39 m (130 ft) lower around 10,000 years BCE). During the Ice Age, the East China Sea was a narrow bay opening to the ocean at today's Tokara Gap. The Sea of Japan was an inland sea and there was no Yellow Sea; people and animals could walk into the Ryukyu peninsula from the continent. Therefore, Yonaguni was the southern end of a land bridge that connected it to Taiwan, Ryukyu, Japan and Asia. This fact is underscored by a rock pillar in a now-submerged cave that has been interpreted as a fused stalactite-stalagmite pair, which could only form above water.

Kimura first estimated that this must be at least 10,000 years old (8,000 BCE) dating it to a time when it would have been above water. In a report given to the 21st Pacific Science Congress in 2007 he revised this estimate and dated it to 2,000 to 3,000 years ago as the sea level then was close to current levels. The existence of an ancient stoneworking tradition at Yonaguni and other Ryukyu islands is demonstrated by some old tombs and several stone vessels of uncertain age.