Home / Top / The Quest for Yamashita’s Gold AKA The craziest treasure hunt in history

The Quest for Yamashita’s Gold AKA The craziest treasure hunt in history

Everyone loves a lost treasure that’s hidden just waiting to be found. A crooked lawyer in Puerto Rico recently convinced people he alone kept the secret of Jacinto Rosario’s lost wealth. At the same time, South Korea is sporadically crazy about stories about a sunken Russian warship full of gold (the warship has actually already been found and, like most warships in dangerous battle, was not filled to the brim with precious metals). At least in the last decade five people died while combing the American west for Forrest Fenn̵

7;s treasure, while treasure hunters unearth a small Canadian island well over a century now, entirely based on a vague rumor about something buried there. They will likely keep digging until they hit the Earth’s core. In all honesty, we won’t even be that crazy if it happens. It’s a buried treasure, who could resist?

But no country loves a good treasure story more than the Philippines. As early as the 16th century, fairy tales claimed that the Chinese pirate Limahong did it buried his prey somewhere in the islands. Meanwhile, later treasure hunter focused on excavations from the Filipino-American War or the Francisco Dagohoy Uprising. But it wasn’t until 1946, when Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita was hanged for war crimes, that things really started. Yamashita had been governor of the occupied Philippines at the end of the war, and Rumors soon spread that the Japanese government had entrusted him with hiding a vast treasure trove of gold and treasures that had been looted from all over Southeast Asia. Allegedly hidden somewhere in the Philippines, the secret treasure was lost when Yamashita and his colleagues were executed.

This story is most likely bullshit, but the story of how to find it includes * deep breaths * golden Buddhas, vampire attacks, psychic astronaut experiments, a stolen piggy bank, shoe terms, Northern Ireland’s weirdest unsolved murders, elaborate booby traps, $ 2.5 trillion in typo-riddled government bonds, and just a whole series of lawsuits.

Jiri Sedlacek / Wikimedia Commons
What’s wrong with treasure owners who always put a little too much gold in a certain container?

Before we get into the good stuff, we have to realize that many nerd historians claim Yamashita’s gold probably doesn’t exist (Boo!). Relying solely on dubious concepts like “research” and “logic”, these slime-encrusted loser freaks insist on squirming out of the nearest sewer and spoiling everyone’s fun by pointing out that there are literally no evidence Japan stored a treasure in the Philippines at all. They also argue that even if Japan had reached the end of the war with an unspent heaps of Southeast Asian loot, it would never have shipped everything to the Philippines, a country that would clearly be overrun by the Americans. By comparison, every treasure hunter has iron evidence that they exist (heard from a drunken uncle) and dies at the age of 24 after tunneling straight into a high pressure sewer. Whose side are she here?

Fortunately, the Gollum-esque screeching of sane people hasn’t stopped generations of treasure hunters from spreading across the country, often armed with just a shovel and map that a confused Japanese tourist drew on a napkin in exchange for a bucket from San Miguels. This can be a dangerous business, killing more and more hunters by collapses, or underground gas poisoning from their own defective devices. A very optimistic group actually dug one up old japanese bomb and took it home for further inspection … at which point it exploded. As you read this, there are villages threatened with landslides from lengthy treasure digs nearby. On another occasion, a businessman came to find the police Excavation of two bodies from under his property. They had been digging for weeks without bothering to inform the unsuspecting owner.

Parmna / Shutterstock
“Hmm, the parking lot looks a little different today.”

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