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yonaguni

September 23, 2005

Yonaguni-jima

On Yonaguni, Japan’s westernmost island, I failed to dive to the kaitei iseki – the mysterious underwater structures that some people like to claim are the 10,000 year old relics of a vanished civilisation – and I also failed to see a living Yonagunisan, or Atlas moth, which (in Japan) are only found on Yonaguni. I also failed to see Taiwan, which is just over 100km away, although that’s not such a great failing, because apparently it is only visible on about ten days every year.

However, I did see Japan’s westernmost sunset, Yonaguni’s famous little horses, a rock that looked like a face (and which is, almost certainly for precisely that reason, called ‘human face rock’), and a huge bat, which was grumpily trying to find somewhere to sleep where the man who for unknown reasons was pestering it would not be able to get to it. It flew away downriver and successfully disappeared into the trees.

I couldn’t dive at the kaitei iseki because the sea was too rough, so I took a trip on a glass-bottomed boat instead – the only real alternative. Unfortunately because the sea was too rough to dive, it was also too rough to keep the boat still, so I had the frustrating experience of seeing only a few parts of the structure through a small, constantly-moving window. Diving would have been incredible, though… However, I left the island less persuaded than ever that these structures are man-made: an interesting fact about Yonaguni, which I have not seen mentioned in any discussion of the structures, is that a lot of the geology around the side of the island where the ‘ruins’ are is also very regular. Lots of natural flat rock surfaces at right-angles to each other, not unlike the ruins themselves.

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