Japan's Mysterious Submerged Stone Structures:
New evidence suggests they may have been used by Man
by Laura Lee
ancient underwater pyramid structure off the coast of Yonaguni-jima, Japan
Man-made, made by Nature, or did humankind finish what Nature started?
These enigmatic, sunken stone structures off Okinawa, Japan, located 60 to
100 feet beneath the ocean surface, have the Japanese
wondering if their homeland was once part of the lost continent of Mu.
Stone terraces, right angled block and walls, and stone
circles encompassing hexagonal columns look intriguingly, if not
conclusively, man made. A few more clues: an encircling road, what might
be post holes supported long-gone wooden structures, what look like cut
steps, and castles with similar archietecture located nearby and still on
land. (see photos; link at end of this article)
The two sites that are getting the most attention: near
the city of Naha is Okinawa is what looks like a wall, with a coral
encrusted right angled block. Another, just off the southern end of the
tiny island of Yonaguni, the southernmost island of Japan, is an extensive
site, with five irregular layers that look like ceremonial, terraced
platforms. There are eight anomalous, underwater sites found to date.
Prof. Masaaki Kimura, a marine geologist with the
University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa has spent several years studying all
eight sties, especially Yonaguni, which was found 13 years ago, in 1985.
Kimura believes these are monuments made by man, left by
an unknown civilization, perhaps from the Asian mainland, home of our
oldest civilizations. He reasons that if the five layers on the Yonaguni
site had been carved by nature, you would find debris from the erosion to
have collected around the site, but no rock fragments have yet been found.
He adds that there is what look like a road encircling the site as
further indication it was used by man. He believes building this
monument necessitated a high degree of technology, and some sort of
How to date these sites? A few possible scenarios have
been suggested. The sites may have been submerged when sea levels rose at
the end of the last Ice Age as the continental ice sheets melted. Or, as
Japan sits on the Ring of Fire, tectonic activity might have caused
subsidence of the land. Or perhaps a combination of subsidence and
inundation from rising sea levels, or some catastrophic event, dropped it,
intact and upright, into the ocean. Teruaki Ishii, a professor of geology
at Tokyo University, believes the site is partly man-made, partly natural,
and suggests a date of 8,000 B.C., contemporary to the ancient
civilizations of Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. Others have suggested a
date of 12,00 years.
The preliminary reports from the fist Americans to dive
Just back (May 1998) from diving two of the eight known
sites are Mike Arbuthnot, an amateur underwater archeologist adventurer,
and Boris Said, Executive Producer of the NBC documentary, "Mystery
of the Sphinx." Both are experienced divers. Arbuthnot explored a
three-mast schooner wrecked off Grand Cayman Island, and Said has been
diving for 40 years.
It was treacherous terrain even for experienced divers.
"The Yonaguni site is fairly near the shore, so there was heavy surge
(the up and down motion of waves) as well as swift currents, and
sharks," says Arbuthnot. "One the up side, the area has the
third clearest water in the world, with visibility to 200 feet. And the
corals were gorgeous."
"The two sites are very different, though both are
at a comparable depth, 60 to 100 feet beneath the ocean’s surface. The
Yonaguni site might be ceremonial platforms, and the Okinawa site seems
similar to a castle wall, a conjecture that is supported by nearby castles
on the island with a similar architectural style," says Arbuthnot.
Arbuthnot says that when he came up after the first
dive, at Yonaguni, he found little to suggest that it was man made. It was
only after diving the Okinawa site, and interviewing Prof. Kimura for two
days, that he began to entertain the notion. The conversations with Prof.
Kimura were all the more productive and in-depth, with the translating
skills of Corina Tettinger, who speaks fluent Japanese. "The case for
the sites being artificial, or modified by man, requires supporting
evidence," he says, and "we found very precise rectilinear stone
features that seem to be indicative of either artificial tooling, or
modifying the natural geology." A particularly intriguing
find: holes in the rock platforms. Could these be post holes to support a
wooden structure? The terraces are massive, by human standards.
But we can imagine naturally terraced platforms easily utilized for
ceremonial purposes with the addition of wooden structures built atop
them. You’d simply need to insert the supporting beams into the rock, by
drilling a few holes.
"What we were able to observe was fascinating and
warrants additional research," he says. "There is some false
information on the sites out there. We want to bring clarity to the
situation, and intend to mount a full-scale scientific expedition to do
We'll report new developments on this project as they happen.
Geologist Robert Schoch and Egyptologist John Anthony
West (both featured in the NBC documentary "The Mystery of the
Sphinx") dove many months ago at Yonaguni, also without arriving at
any conclusions, only more questions. Schoch focused on determining what
geological forces might have been at work here. While he notes that the
strong currents might have cut the terraces out of the layered sediments,
he has not ruled out human modification. Schoch says he very much wants to
go back to dive again before arriving at any conclusions. "I have not
seen the other sites," he says, "and, not having previous diving
experience, I spent much of my time underwater just staying alive."
We thank Shun Daichi for his help in preparing our
report. We thank Shun and Kenichi Shindo, for use of their photos.
Photos by kind permission of Shun Daichi
and Mr. Kenichi Shindo. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.
Links by permission only.
My friend Shun Daichi sent these photos along with a video of the
extensive coverage given these mystery structures by Japanese TV. The
first group of six photos was taken by Mr. Kenichi Shindo. Shun writes,
"There are six places they found structures in the Okinawa area. One
is located in Taiwan. All of them are under the sea. All the geologists
agree that the underwater structures are at least 12,000 years old."
Among the first Americans to dive the multi-terraced site of the tiny
island of Yonaguni were John Anthony West and Geologist Robert Schoch (who
in "Mystery of the Sphinx" persuasively argue that The Sphinx
must have been carved from a solid outcropping of sandstone at least
8-10,000 years ago, because that's how long ago it was that the Sahara
Desert last received torrential rainfall, and that is the only explanation
for the deep vertical weathering on the flanks and enclosure of the
Sphinx). In their preliminary examination of just one site, they found a
possible geolgoical explanation: it is the natural erosion of the layered
sedimentary rock. The strong oceans currents shear it away, "like
large chunks of layer cake," leaving what looks like perfectly
parallel and finely cut channels and terraces.
At a similar site, the rock below the surface shows similar layering,
while the same rock above the surface does not, suggesting it is the wave
and water action cutting the rock. Schoch notes that the corrals covering
the rock makes it look smoother than it is close up. On the other hand,
there are smaller, above surface tombs that are definitely manmade, and
look as though their design is derived from the mystery structures, which
were above sea level, on the shore, 8 to 10,000 years ago, before
inundation by the rising sea levels (some 300 feet) at the end of the last
Ice Age, as the glaciers melted. And Schoch says he cannot rule out that
these sites were not used or modified by man, and he is eager for further
Shun Daichi, in an Oct 18, 1997 fax, writes: "In Japan Prof. Kimura
of Ryukyu University is quite certain that the monument is manmade. Prof.
Ishii of Tokyo University, a geologist, feels the under water structure
could be manmade. Media in Japan generally show two views but is inclined
to the manmade view."
John West tells me that while this may or may not be evidence of a Lost
Civilization he feels certain existed, the Pacific Rim and the
Mediterranean, just along the continental shelf, are the places to be
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