Cuing …… Cuing …… The mechanical sound of the metal detector echoes through the valley.
On a certain day in November, FRIDAY reporter (32) and treasure hunter Mitsuhiro Yaeno (74) were single-mindedly wading through the grass.
About three hours by car from Tokyo. Shioyama Ichinose Takahashi, Koshu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, is said to have been a key defensive location for the Kurokawa gold mine owned by Shingen Takeda. Legend has it that Shingen had hidden his war funds in this area. There is a legend that Shingen hid his war fund here, which is said to be several hundred million yen worth of gold in today’s money.
I’ve been coming here for about 30 years now. I’ve been coming here for about thirty years, and my son, who was in junior high school when I brought him here to explore, is now over forty.
While the reporter was unsteady on his feet, Mr. Yaeno dexterously walked down the steep slope of the canyon, carrying his search tools. When we reached the riverside under the bridge, the search for the buried treasure finally began. He slides the tip of the metal detector in his right hand over the gravel.
Gravel that is easy to dig in is also easy to bury, so we search carefully. Also, buried treasure is not always buried in the ground. If there is a side hole by the river, I insert a microscope into the gap and check if the back is hollow.
Sometimes, he dips knee-deep in the river to find the point of interest.
Sometimes we dip knee-deep in the river to find points of interest. So there is no reason why humans cannot find it. The search for the buried treasure is a contest of wits with the people of the past.
Mr. Yaeno’s eyes were serious as he said this during our search. However, even after half a day of searching, we were unable to find any clues. The search was terminated before the canyon became dark.
Mr. Yaeno had originally worked as an editor at a publishing company before leaving his job to become a buried treasure hunter. In 1978, he founded the “Japan Treasure Hunting Club” with about 24 members, but he was skeptical about the existence of buried treasure in his youth.
In 1974, when I was a magazine editor, I covered the treasure of Shiro Amakusa. At the time, I thought there was no way such a thing could exist. Gradually, however, I began to see the possibility of its survival, and I wanted to find it myself. Not so much for the money, but to surprise everyone.
It is said that there are thousands of legends of buried gold in Japan. Mr. Yaeno, who has searched for many buried gold deposits, says, “99% of them are just a myth. We asked him about the secret to identifying the remaining 1%.
Is there a 5W1H in the story? If the narrative of who hid what, when, where, why, and how is broken, the story is unlikely to be true. I look for cases based on what I am convinced of.
His search for buried treasure is based on his own analytical and deductive skills, as well as his longstanding intuition. In particular, he put a lot of effort into the Tokugawa buried treasure.
I had a mentor who told me that there was a great place to find the Tokugawa buried treasure. We worked together for two years starting in 2009 in a certain inn town in Gunma Prefecture. One day, my master, who was over 70 years old, said to me, ‘You’re the heir apparent,’ and I took over the search.
In the course of his research, he felt that there were new possibilities for the Tokugawa buried treasure.
During the investigation, he found a new possibility for the Tokugawa buried treasure: “I had always been told that it was buried at Mount Akagi, but I think it is actually buried somewhere else. In fact, there is a legend that at the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, goods were carried through Mount Akagi to the roadside in the north.
In the past, the excavation of the Tokugawa buried treasure involved quite a large scale of research, but in recent years, people have been digging by themselves.
In recent years, however, they have been digging by hand. “In the past, people didn’t bury things by digging holes with machines, so there is no way they buried things that deep. The ones found in Japan were usually in the 50 cm range in depth, and the deepest one was about 1.5 meters deep. That’s why I don’t need to use any machines, and digging with my own hands is the real thrill.
The challenge of the skilled hunters continues.
Treasures in these eight locations!
There are legends of buried gold all over Japan, and some people are still digging. Why has the boom in buried gold reached such a high level? Ryoji Yamagishi, a part-time lecturer at Showa Women’s University’s Department of History and Culture, examines the reasons as follows.
The reason why the legend of the buried treasure continues to grow is because people have a strong desire to see it. And every time a buried treasure is discovered, there is a feverish boom. A famous example is the discovery of more than 200 koban (small seal) in the earth and sand piled up during the renovation of Komatsu Store, a specialty store in Ginza, in 1956. The owner of the store relinquished his ownership of the koban and donated them to the Tokyo National Museum as buried cultural properties.
In this article, Mr. Yamagishi carefully selected eight places in Japan where legends of buried treasure remain that deserve special attention. In this issue, Mr. Yamagishi has carefully selected eight locations in Japan with particularly noteworthy legends of buried gold, including the “Ainu Buried Gold,” which was the subject of the manga “Golden Kamuy,” and the “Yuki Family Buried Gold,” where the Tokugawa family is said to have sent their adopted son to obtain this fortune.
In modern times, it is necessary to obtain permission from the landowner when digging in private land. This makes the search for buried gold difficult, but on the other hand, it means that there is still a lot of buried gold in Japan that remains dormant.
The “get-rich-quick romance” may not be as far-fetched as it seems!
From “FRIDAY” December 17, 2021 issue
PHOTO： Takeshi Kinugawa (1st photo)