There are several other intriguing sites around Yonaguni that I was not able to show Wolf in the time available to us in March 2001 -- though I do not think any of them would have changed his mind.
One of these, which takes a form that some recognise as a huge rock-hewn sea-turtle, stands at a depth of 12 metres on the shoulder of the main monument at Iseki Point approximately 150 metres east of the terraces.
A second, badly damaged when Yonaguni was struck by an unusually severe series of typhoons in August and September 2001,(18) is found half a kilometre due east of the terraces in about 15 metres of water. Consisting of a one-ton boulder mounted on a 10-centimetre-high flat platform at the apex of an enormous rocky slab almost three metres high, it has all the characteristics of a classic iwakura shrine, part natural rock, part man-made. As I noted in Chapter 25, if this shrine were to be moved to the slopes of Mount Miwa it would blend in seamlessly with what is already there.
Two other anomalous sites are located within half a kilometre of Iseki Point, that I would also very much have liked Wolf to see. One is the extraordinary “Stadium”, a vast amphitheatre surrounding a stone plain at a depth of 30 metres. The other is a second area of very large steps - on a similar scale and of a similar appearance to those of the main terrace at Iseki Point - but much further out to sea, in deeper water, and at the bottom of a protected channel.
Nor does the list of signs and wonders end here, but I think the point has been sufficiently made. Some people with good minds -- amongst them Japanese scientists with PhD’s -- are adamant that what they see underwater at Yonaguni are rock-hewn structures that have been worked upon by humans and purposefully arranged. Others with equally good minds and equally good PhD’s are equally adamant that they see no rock-hewn structures underwater at Yonaguni at all -- only rocks.
Rocks? Or structures?
Just interesting geology? Or discoveries that could fix the true origins of Japanese civilisation as far back in the Age of the Gods as the Nihongi and the Kojiki themselves claim?
These are grave questions and they cannot be answered at Yonaguni on the basis of available evidence. Wolf is right about that. It is just possible that the remarkable structures and objects that I showed him there underwater are all freaks of nature, which by some amazing additional improbability all happen to be gathered together in one place.
I don’t think that is what they are. And I repeat that the balance of first-hand scientific opinion is, at time of writing, two-to-one against Wichmann in this matter (Kimura and Sundaresh provide two clear votes for the structures having been overworked by man, Wichmann provides one clear vote in favour of the structures being entirely natural; Professor Schoch votes both ways).
In the future other discoveries, and other diving scientists, could alter this balance of opinion dramatically in either direction. But we shall have to wait and see. Meanwhile, after a thorough exposure on-site to Wolf Wichmann’s relentless empiricism I concede that I am not yet in a position to prove that humans were involved in the creation of the Yonaguni structures - any more than Wolf can prove, as he admits, that they were not.
But I believe Wolf came to his conclusions about Yonaguni sincerely, not too hastily, and on the basis of his own vast experience as a marine geologist of how different kinds of rock behave underwater. Although I disagree with him, I therefore resolved as we left the island in March 2001 that I would not base any argument or any claim in “Underworld” on the copious evidence which suggests that the submerged structures of Yonaguni are indeed ancient rock-hewn human sites In this chapter I have simply tried to marshal and present that evidence, and Wolf’s purposeful and eloquent counter views, as clearly and as objectively as possible, as a matter of public record.
But suppose for a moment - an exercise in speculation only -- that I and others are right about Yonaguni.
If so, then what Japan has lost to the rising seas is no small or insignificant matter but a defining episode in world prehistory going back more than 10,000 years. For if the Jomon did make the great structures that were submerged off the south and east coasts of Yonaguni at the end of the Ice Age then we are confronted by a previously unexpected and as yet completely unexplained dimension of that increasingly remarkable ancient culture. In terms of organisation, effort, engineering and ambition, the sheer scale of the enterprise is beyond anything that the Jomon of 10,000 or 12,000 years ago (or any other human culture of that epoch) are thought to have been capable of. Yet it makes a strange kind of sense in context of the other incongruous characteristics of these strange “hunter-gatherers” - their permanent settlements, their stone circles, their cultivation of rice, and their navigational and maritime achievements in two different waves of settlement of the Americas (one as early as 15,000 years ago, one more like 5000 years ago).
Wolf and I had just one more day of diving to do after Yonaguni, just one more day for me to find him a major structure in Japanese waters that he could not come up with a natural explanation for
For that adventure, and test, I had chosen the great stone circles at Kerama.