Ancient History / Archeology / Interdisciplinary science / Mythology

Underwater City at Yonaguni, Japan: The Search Continues

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                                                     Image source:

The tantalising search for clues and debate over the authenticity of this undersea anomaly known as the Yonaguni Monument continues…

The monument was discovered by accident in 1987, off the coast of  Yonaguni Island, near Okinawa Japan, by a local diver named Kihachiro Aratake, while he was looking for schools of hammerhead sharks. He subsequently dubbed it with the enigmatic title of Iseki (Ruins) point. Aratake and other divers also later found a scattering of seemingly connected underwater structures in the surrounding area.

While hardened skeptics are adamant that the monument and surrounding structures are nothing more than freaks of geology, opinion remains divided among the most qualified of researchers to have visited the site.

 Evidence for Authenticity

Eyewitness testimony as to the man-made nature of the underwater structure is extremely convincing, especially when cross-referenced with archeological data from sites on Yonaguni island itself, in the Okinawa region more broadly, and on mainland Japan. When taken into context with further geological, oceanographic and regional folkloric data, quite a compelling case emerges.

So the nagging question remains. Why is the Yonaguni site still not generating the attention from mainstream archeology that it so thoroughly deserves?

Well, apparently it’s not from lack of trying?

The most publicly vocal supporter of the site’s man-made interpretation, renowned author and journalist Graham Hancock, maintains that this undersea stone anomaly is what remains of an ancient human city, believed to be anywhere from 8000-10,000 year old.

An illustration of the topography of the Yonaguni undersea monument. Image source:

There are a number of prominent theories about the Yonaguni monument, including that of Masaaki Kimura, a marine geologist from Okinawa’s Ryukyu University, who has been examining the area for more than fifteen years. Chief among his initial claims, were that the site became submerged during a massive earthquake around 5000 thousand years ago. Kimura also claims to have discovered hand-tools and images of people and animals carved into rocks, including a horse-like glyph, that he has likened to a characters from the Kaida Script.

A relief carving of what is believed to be an animal, found at the site. Image source:

Perhaps the most compelling independent confirmation of the possible man-made nature of the site so far, was provided by Indian marine archeologist Sundaresh, of The National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India in September 2000.

After thoroughly exploring the site with the aid of submersible craft, Sundaresh, known for his work on underwater ruins off the coast of Dwarka, India, stated that the terraced features of the monument, were “undoubtably man-made.” He also concluded that the shape, size and positioning of “megalithic structures” at the site, also suggest that they are man-made. It is believed that the extremely ancient people of Japan’s Jomon period used to worship stones and rocks. Is it possible that these so called, “megalithic structures,” were once objects of worship?

Carved from the Living Rock

After a dive at the Iseki point site in 1997, geologist Robert Schoch, best known for his controversial Sphinx Erosion Theory, initially believed the site to be man- made, however he later took a more ambiguous line, by stating that it may be a natural formation, which was subsequently altered by human activity.

The idea that the features found at the site may have been carved directly out of the living rock (to use the geological vernacular) as a site of ritual significance, seems plausible, especially since rock-hewn architecture has proven to be a very persistent theme throughout the ancient world.

Among the more notable examples still with us today, are the eleven rock-hewn churches of Lalibela in Eithiopia and Al Kazaneh (The Treasury of Petra) in Petra, Jordan. Comparisons are also often made between certain formations at Yonaguni, and remains in parts of Sacsayhuaman, the ancient Incan complex at Cuzco, Peru.

Terraces and steps: pre-historic rock-hewn structures at Sacsayhuaman in the Andes mountains of Peru.

Extraordinary Claims require Extraordinary Evidence

If either the human made or human altered theory about the Yonaguni monument were definitively proven to be the correct and in accordance with an 8000-10,000 years time frame, it would incite nothing short of a spectacular revision of history. It’s understandable that people would wish to tread cautiously. The significance of such a find for mainstream archeology could not be overstated.

Mythological Clues

The inclusion of mythological evidence about other cities lost in floods should not be ruled out either. Prime among these under current serious investigation, is an underwater site believed by some, to be a legendary holy city founded by the Indian deity Krishna, off the coast of Dwarka in India. Other accounts of lost legendary cities on land, that have subsequently proven to be factual, include sites such as the city of Troy and the Biblical city of Meggido, among others. So it stands to reason that the same might also prove to be true of a number of other famed underwater cities. Combine this with catastrophic ancient flood myths from practically every continent on earth, (some of which are believed to be substantiated by long range climate and oceanographic modelling) and in light of this broader spectrum of evidence, the potential for more major underwater archeological discoveries in the future becomes mind-boggling.

A number of Japanese researchers and locals of the Ryuku Region, believe that a very well-known Japanese children’s tale, about a character called Urashima Taro, could be a reference to a collective memory of an ancient civilization, that perhaps once inhabited the area, before parts of it were swallowed by the sea. The inclusion of such evidence is at very least, a strong argument for the importance of an interdisciplinary approach in getting to the bottom of a number of lingering scientific mysteries that demand better answers.

Remains of the walls of Troy VII, site of the Trojan War (c. 1200 BC) Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Grand conspiracy theories aside, there does seem to be a number of quite mundane barriers to a more thorough mainstream examination of this particular site. Undersea archeology is sadly nowhere near as well-developed as its terrestrial counterpart. Additionally, the Iseki Point site sits off the coast of a fairly remote island in open ocean up to thirty meters below the surface, and requires a chartered boat and a local diving guide to get there. The area is also subject to unpredictable conditions, such as Typhoons and strong underwater currents, making it treacherous to all but very experienced divers. Having once visited nearby Okinawa Island on vacation, I can personally attest to the sudden intense shifts in wind and sea activity, that can occur within short periods in that region.

While sources such as the Morien institute, claim that an official announcement of the site’s authenticity has already taken place within Japan’s archeological community, there still seems to be a confusing lack of international archeological consensus on the Yonaguni issue. In any case, like so many others out there, I crave a more definitive answer.

Meanwhile Professor Kimura and his dedicated team keep up their patient research dives on the site…


Yonaguni Monument Wikipedia Reference

 Exclusive Interview with professor Maasaki Kimura, Morien Institute, March, 2015 

Confronting Yonaguni: Chapter Twenty Seven from Graham Hancock’s book, Underworld

The Forgotten underworld of Japan: Reality Sandwich, Patrick Chouinard, 2013

Mysterious 10,000 year old Underwater Ruins in Japan: Ancient Origins, April Holloway, 2013

Journeys into Japanese Culture: The Underwater Pyramid and Oahspe


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13 thoughts on “Underwater City at Yonaguni, Japan: The Search Continues

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  3. The Underwater City at Yonaguni reminded me of Plato’s Lost City of Atlantis!~…. How interesting to read and learn about it…
    I’d say so that it might be hard to find archaeological conclusive evidence as, following your ideas, and quoting you “the area is subject to unpredictable conditions, such as Typhoons and strong underwater currents”… Nevertheless these kind of hypothesis will always increase expectations…. And it would be amazing to find debris of this submarine city!…
    Great post! … Thanks for sharing! Best wishes. Aquileana ⭐

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you kindly for your thoughtful comments. Yes it does evoke thoughts of Atlantis. I tried to be as objective as I could, because it’s one of my pet archeological theories, I wanted to try to give it the dignity it deserves.


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