19 August 2008, JellyBean @ 6:15 am

Just off the island of Okinawa, Japan at the bottom of the East China sea sits a collection of enigmatic structures. No one knows what they are exactly, or even who built them. Are they man-made, natural or something that nature started and humans completed?

Masaki Kimura, a marine geologist at the University of the Ryukyus believes that these submerged stone structures are actually the ruins of a Japanese Atlantis, sunk beneath the waves some 2000 years ago.

Masaki has spent the last 15 odd years diving at the site to measure and map it out. Each time he returns to land he says that he is more convinced that the structures are the remains of a 5000 year old city.

The largest structure, he claims, is a complicated, monolithic, stepped pyramid that rises from a depth of 25 meters.

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In september 1995, not far from the shore of the island of Yonaguni, more then 300 airline miles south from Okinawa, they found a gigantic, pyramidal structure in 100 feet of water. In what appeared to be a ceremonial center of broad promenades and flanking pylons, the gargantuan building measures 240 feet long.

“The object has not been manufactured by nature. If that had been the case, one would expect debris from erosion to have collected around the site, but there are no rock fragments there,” Professor Masaki told National Geographic.

The discovery of what appears to be a road surrounding the building was further evidence that the structure was made by humans, he added.

He is not without his detractors and skeptics. Robert Schoch, a professor of science and mathematics at Boston University who has also dived at the site disagrees and is undecided about the cause. They feel that the man-made theory is indeed a good possibility, but that the structures could also be caused by nature.

“It’s basic geology and classic stratigraphy for sandstones, which tend to break along planes and give you these very straight edges, particularly in an area with lots of faults and tectonic activity” he said.

On the other hand, there are smaller, above surface tombs that are definitely man-made, and look as though their design is derived from the mystery structures, which were above sea level, on the shore, 8 to 10,000 years ago, before inundation by the rising sea levels (some 300 feet) at the end of the last Ice Age, as the glaciers melted. And Schoch says he cannot rule out that these sites were not used or modified by man, and he is eager for further examination.

But Professor Kimura is adamant that he has identified quarry marks in the stone, rudimentary characters etched onto carved faces, and rocks sculpted into the likenesses of animals.

Neither the Japanese government or the local Okinawa government recognize the structures as important cultural property yet. They are leaving it for the academics and scientists to fight it out before committing to anything.

The controversy that had developed over the next few years was covered in The Japan Times on July 19 2000, which also reported on the ancient myths and legends of the Okinawa region:

“In Okinawan folklore, there are tales of traditional gods and a land of the gods called Nirai-Kanai, an unknown faraway land from where happiness is brought. Kimura said the Yonaguni Monument may have been built to serve a similar deity.”

Some experts believe that the structures could be all that’s left of Mu, a fabled Pacific civilization rumored to have vanished beneath the waves.

Do these undersea structures offer proof of a sophisticated civilization during the last ice age? Are they merely formed by the tidal and seismic forces which are so strong in this area?

The answers may still lie hidden in the structures, waiting for someone to discover them.

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