Monday, April 27, 2009

Time Out

It's Golden Week in Japan--a holiday studded spring break.
Yonaguni Tales will be continued after Golden Week.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Underwater Relics--What's There?

Awesome! That's the first reaction to the submerged ruins off Yonaguni island in Okinawa. The second reaction is, why are they there? Who made them? What were they for?

As a first step towards answering all the questions their existence raises, we need to know in concrete terms what we are dealing with. That is why the work of the survey team, led by Dr. Masaaki Kimura, now professor emeritus of The University of the Ryukyus, is so important.

What, exactly, is down there, and how big is it?

Sometimes the team literally jumps in and measures things with a tape measure. Can you imagine standing still against the powerful stream of the Black Current while you hold your end of the tape against the rock being measured? Talk about awesome, it takes SCUBA skill and nerves of steel to come back with the data. The survey work began in 1992.

Systematic photographic surveys began in 1997. Again, awesome is the word.

As one of the photographers told me--a non diver--you do not roll off the boat and drop like a stone straight to the object you want to photograph. You and your equipment are at the mercy of a current that whips around the rocks like a freight train roaring downhill with the brakes off. It gets really interesting when you and the other members of the team, all carrying one essential piece of the necessary equipment, get separated. You can't exactly dial each other on the cell phone.

Now that the data fills several books and the film data would take almost a month to see in its entirety, it is easy to forget how very hard it is to acquire any data at all.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Marlin Fishing

Something old, something new...

Marlin fishing is considered something new in Yonaguni. The island's reputation for "big game" fishing took off after the 1930's. A thousand pound fish certainly qualifies as big. Is it that marlin didn't swim there until the 1930's or that no one noticed they were there?

The Yonaguni ruins' popularity has been soaring since the turn of the millennium. It's not that they weren't there. It's just that nobody noticed.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Home, Sweet Home

c. 10 millennia ago