Special Feature: Yamijima: Allure of the Ruins
The end of a civilisation? The door to another world?
Ruins, rotting and purposeless after losing their former glory. They seduce people who fear ruination and wish to learn of the unknown that may await. What does Yamijima, Japan's final great ruin sleeping empty in a distant sea, say to a modern person?
Yamijima, an island floating in the stormy seas of the Shikai region. The place was like a treasure island. Small and endowed with bountiful reserves of gold, the mine brought a large boom to the place. People came here, chasing wealth and dreams, and a town was born. Huge apartment buildings, a park, a hospital, a school... The town of plenty was the symbol of a period of rapid growth.
However, now, in the 21st century, no vestiges remain of its former El Dorado status. All that covers the island now are ownerless, decaying ruins. This island's party is over, with a terrible incident as its final memory...
Negative power spots abandoned across Japan
Ruins. This word has two faces. One is the darkness of an abandoned and crumbling civilisation. The other evokes an uncertain image, and has bewitching and fascinating allure. Yes, ruins have "something" that continues to fascinate humans.
This publication, too, has long searched many ruins at the requests of readers. There is M Mine, where even now the remnants of the lives of the people who mined there for resources lie; G Land, a theme park that was constructed to great fanfare during the bubble period and left unused due to lack of funds; or perhaps the A Hospital ruins, which engender an odd atmosphere with its broken syringes and scattered medical instruments. Each of these are locally rumoured to be paranormal spots, the subjects of fear and taboo.
It is unsurprising that ruins are often thought of in conjunction with ghosts and the occult. This is because ruins are simply places to which "emotions" with nowhere else to go are drawn. Once, people used to live their lives there. For some reason they left, and though they may be uninhabited now, the residual thoughts ingrained into the place do not simply vanish. To the contrary, it is possible for the cause of the place's abandonment to lead to a ruin becoming the most terrible "negative power spot".
Take, for example, a certain mountain village in the Chugoku region. Once, two small settlements existed here. On 21 May, 1938, however, a ghastly crime took place here which would make its mark on the criminal history of Japan. One young man, equipped with a hunting rifle and Japanese sword, made a sudden assault on the village. In the space of a mere hour, he murdered 30 villagers.
The settlement where this tragedy primarily took place lost the majority of its inhabitants, and those who survived left the village one by one. This led to the village becoming a ruin, and it is still said to remain hidden somewhere in the mountains today. It is the site of what is commonly known as the "Tsuyama murder of 30".
Reference site: Tsuyama Murder of 30 (JP)
The destiny of the destruction of which the world's ruins tell
From a global perspective, and a historical one, the ominous shadow of ruination hangs about the ruins. The historic ruins of Machu Picchu, a huge city built on the high ground of Peru, South America, were once inhabited by the Inca, who boasted an advanced civilisation. Never subject to Spanish invasion, the people in their sky city eulogised peace. But then, in the mid 16th century, they abandoned this beautiful city and suddenly vanished.
Then there were the Khmer, who built the splendid Buddhist city of Angkor Wat in the 12th century, but were driven into the jungle by nearby military powers. Or how about the ancient native American Ancestral Puebloans, who constructed brick dwellings since pre-era times and had a good understanding of astrology? Despite all of these civilisations boasting high intelligence and noble peoples, which could even perhaps be called "super civilisations", the only things that now remain of their power are ruins buried under earth and forest. No matter how much a culture thrives, what awaits at their end is destruction... Perhaps this is what these empty remains found across the world tell us as modern people.
The ruins of an unknown curse, Yamijima's mystery
With the light of culture and the shadow of destruction, ruins are mystery spots where curiosity and fear intermingle. These days, however, exploring these ruins is becoming more and more difficult. This is because these ruins have been picked up by the internet, TV, magazines and so forth, and the primary locations have become too famous. Some ruins are turned into tourist attractions, while others are closed off and tightly supervised. It even seems now as if there are no longer any ruins of value to visit within Japan.
But here, there is a place that is known to ruin maniacs as the final frontier. It is Yamijima, the solitary island introduced at the start of this article. This island, which was the site of a prospering gold mine until the 1960s, was left empty by a certain incident, becoming a floating ruin in the sea.
That incident occurred 29 years ago, in 1976. One night, the whole of Yamijima was struck by a huge blackout. An undersea cable, the lifeline connecting Yamijima to the mainland, had been suddenly severed. At the same time, it became impossible to establish contact with the island. A later investigation revealed that all of the islanders who had been living on Yamijima had mysteriously disappeared.
This incident, which remains unsolved to this day, led to the name of Yamijima becoming well-known amongst fanatics, but it is incredibly difficult to actually visit the location. This is partly due to the fact that making landing on the island is strictly forbidden by local authorities, but above all else is because local fishermen don't want to send their boats there.
Even since the severance of the undersea cable and the islanders' disappearances, many eerie incidents have occurred around the island. In 1986, the Bright Win, a ferry that was sailing in the vicinity of Yamijima, was shipwrecked. This disappearance, perhaps more aptly a vanishing than a shipwreck, was talked about as a Japanese Bermuda triangle incident. Speaking of the vanishing of ships, a fishing boat known as the Hanumaru similarly went missing in 2003.
Boats aren't the only things vanishing here. Local rumours incessantly tell of people going missing in the area around Yamijima. It is only natural for the local people to be afraid of venturing near the place.
Yamijima's traditional culture, which vanished into the waves leaving only fragments
Bizarre legends and customs have lingered on Yamijima since before the incident 29 years ago, and it is said that it had come to the attention of folklorists as well. There is no one left to tell us of these things now, and it is difficult to learn the specifics of Yamijiman culture.
However, while "Ancient Tales of Yamijima", obtained by our editing department via a certain route, remains only in fragments and is difficult to decipher, it is possible to make out such phrases as "those driven out by the light", "a queer sign", and "those who dwell below". It appears to document the unique legends of the island.
It is said that this data was brought away from the island by a certain researcher, who received it from Ryuhei Mikami, an archaeologist who was conducting fieldwork in the area in 1976, right before the incident occurred. Mr. Mikami remains impossible to contact, meaning that we are unable to confirm the history and authenticity of the document, but it sufficiently conveys the fact that Yamijima has been some sort of unique location since ancient times.
Yamijima, Japan's final and greatest mystery spot. How does the island, rejected by the world due to its terrible memories and violent seas, look these days? Has its town, where people once worked, played and lived simply rotted, exposed and eroded by the sea breeze? A former El Dorado, suspended in the moment of its destruction, mostly untouched by the hand of man. A solitary island, sealing away its secret, ancient legends, now that there is no one left to tell them. Perhaps now is the time to conduct a proper investigation into this unexplored land?
We at Atlantis wish to shine a spotlight on Yamijima and conduct a full investigation of its full story. A research team consisting of an editor and main writer are currently preparing for their voyage. What sight awaits our staff when they set foot on the forbidden land of Yamijima?