In 1986, a diver off the coast of Yonaguni, a remote Japanese island, was startled to discover a massive monolithic underwater structure with vertical steps, high walls, flat terraces, and sharp angles. Was this a 10,000-year-old sunken city, perhaps a vestigial relic of the Pacific Ocean’s legendary lost continent of Mu? Or just a submerged pile of rock shaped by ocean currents and earthquakes?
Welcome to the riddle of the so-called Yonaguni Monument.
Renowned author and theorist Graham Hancock suggests the end of the Ice Age was in effect a “global warming” event that caused ocean levels to rise and submerge advanced prehistoric civilizations. The Great Flood and Atlantis readily come to mind. Was the Yonaguni Monument tangible proof of Hancock’s theory? Hancock headed for Japan to don scuba gear and examine the underwater megalith firsthand.
Also present at the site was Robert Schoch, the noted geologist who had examined erosion at the base of the Great Sphinx and claimed heavy rainfall had caused it, pointing to the conclusion that the Sphinx came from a wet climate era in Egypt long before the pyramids. Shoch hoped to discover whether the megalith had been carved by man or by nature.
There are two points on which everyone agrees: (1) the Yonaguni Monument is a megalith hewn from solid rock, not a structure built of stones or bricks; and (2) the ocean currents off Yonaguni are quite strong and capable of doing funny things to underwater topography. But you can guess the rest. Hancock maintained the structural features of the monument were too large and too precise to have been caused by random water currents. He produced photos of steps, walls, terraces, and something that (sort of) looks like a giant human head, but unfortunately there was no “payoff photo” showing unmistakable evidence of human workmanship. Shoch demonstrated that Yonaguni’s rocky coastline contained natural geometric formations similar to those found on the monument and concluded forces of nature alone had shaped it.
For their part, neither the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs nor the government of Okinawa Prefecture have been willing to recognize the Yonaguni Monument as a cultural landmark. But that has not prevented Yonaguni from touting the monument as a man-made marvel to attract curious scuba diving tourists from around the world.