In 1989 two hikers signaled for help in one of Japan’s unique national parks. After law enforcement searched for them from a sign they had seen from above, investigators learned that two hikers did not create the SOS sign.
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Posted originally by apis_cerana;
It was July 24th of 1989. Two mountaineers from Tokyo who were climbing towards Asahidake mountain in Hokkaido, Japan went missing. Rescuers were searching for them via helicopter when they came across a giant SOS laid on the ground, made from birch logs near the start of the Chubetsugawa river. They circled the area and found the two missing mountaineers safe, about 2-3km north of the sign.
After the rescue of the two men, the Hokkaido police mentioned to them that they were rescued due to their sign being spotted, but the two men told them that they had no knowledge of such a sign. Upon hearing this, the police decided to go and do a search near the sign to see if another person had been stranded nearby.
Near the sign, they found a human skeleton with animal gnaw marks, along with a backpack containing a tape recorder. The skeleton was from a male with type A blood, and he had broken a few bones prior to death.
When they played the tape in the tape recorder, there was some noise along with a male voice yelling, very slowly — “I can’t move from atop this cliff. SOS. Please help. I am near where the helicopter was originally, and I can’t move further due to bamboo brush being in the way. Please get me out of here”
The audio of the tape can be found here. You can hear he sounded out each letter very, very slowly and loudly…kind of an eerie recording.
The police were unable to tell exactly why he had decided to record his message in this way when there was no way to transmit it anywhere else, and this is one of the mysteries that still make me think from this case.
Another mystery was the SOS sign itself. It was made of large logs, approximately 5m at the longest point. They were three logs high, and it was odd to think that the dead man would have been able to move all the logs himself in the state that he was in.
The sign — a screencap from the news back in the day, so poor quality.
The man has been identified as a 25-year old
(his exact name and more details about him have been witheld) Kenji Iwamura from Aichi prefecture — he had been staying at a nearby lodge and had told the lodge owner that he was going on a quick hike. The owner had reported it when he failed to check out and had left his belongings behind. He had mentioned going to climb Asahidake mountain; the police have speculated that he had climbed up but had gotten lost. It is a relatively short hike up, but on the way back down there are two large boulders that look nearly identical and are used as landmarks. The first boulder is near a trail that crosses back and leads to a steep cliff, while the second leads down towards town. It’s easy to confuse those two, and even moreso if it had been raining.
Since the first boulder leads to a steep cliff with bamboo shrub nearby, the assumption is that that was the area the man was talking about in the tape recording. However, his body had been found further away in the wetlands near a large river. Perhaps a scavenging animal had dragged his body there — nonetheless it’s rather strange.
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