Meaning of a Turtle Sign | Yamashita Treasure Code


When it comes to Japanese (Yamashita) treasure signs, a "turtle" sign comes in many several different forms or figures. If you have a copy of the Japanese Treasure Codes, you can browse it to check the turtle signs. But before we proceed into the discussion of their meanings, let me tell you first an interesting trivia about the symbolism of a turtle.

Turtles are actually a symbolism for longevity (Did you know that the oldest fossils of turtles discovered by the scientists are dated over 200 million years old? ), endurance and persistence. In addition, turtles also have a strong association with water, motion and intuition.

Common Japanese Treasure Turtle Signs

Turtle signs can be encountered either carved on a surface of a certain object (particularly on rocks, old trees and on the walls of antique houses) or it can be a huge rock that takes the form/shape of a turtle. Some of you have even encountered turtle signs with incomplete figure such as it doesn't have head, tail or feet.

Here are the following common turtle signs and their meanings:

1. Turtle's Head Pointing Towards the Deposit

The turtle sign illustrated above indicates the direction or hidden spot of the buried treasure. Its head acts as the pointer (like an arrow sign). And based on all of my previous experiences as a TH, a turtle is usually the final sign that reveals the spot of the hidden item. It is basically saying that a "Yamashita treasure is found here".

Take note that the head of the turtle must be sticking-out otherwise, it has another different meaning.

2. Turtle Head means Death

The figure illustrated above is different from the first but they do actually have the same meaning. As you can see, the turtle's head, arms and tails are out. But the most important part is that, the turtle's head is sticking-out pointing into the direction or exact location of the hidden treasure. At some point, the item should be nearby.

On some references, there's the word "death". Due to this word, some THs misinterpreted it as a Danger Sign. To clear it up, death in terms of the Japanese treasure signs is just one of the substitutes for the word "treasure". Other uncommon words for treasures used by the Japanese Imperial Army includes hope, wealth, buried possessions and etc...

Speaking about danger, there is actually a huge possibility that the deposit is equipped with dangerous Water Trap. You have to know that turtle also symbolizes water (because it's their rightful habitat). So if it happens that you encounter a turtle sign, you have to expect that the buried deposit is near or close to a certain body or source of water.

3. Sleeping Turtle

When a turtle goes to sleep, it will pull its head, tail and feet inside its own protective shell. On the image above, a sleeping turtle is illustrated with the head, feet and tail slightly out. But as compared to the other turtle signs, it's body is resting on the ground.

The meaning of a sleeping turtle indicates that the hidden deposit is buried underneath it.

4. Pointing into the Water

The above turtle sign indicates that the treasure was hidden near the water. In fact, most hidden deposit with a turtle sign involves the presence of water around the area.

5. A Change in Direction

A turtle walking in an upward direction or at an inclined position means that you need to change your direction. And in most cases, this turtle sign is often accompanied by other signs.

A Turtle Sign with its Head Pointing Downwards

The head of the turtle actually plays an important role in interpreting its meaning. So if the head is looking forward towards the east, it means that you need to inspect that portion of the area. Based on my experiences, the distance of the area from the turtle sign usually goes around between 10 to 15 ft (3 to 5 meters).

What if the head is pointing downwards?

The answer is simple. It means that the hidden item was buried "right on that spot" or "underneath" the object where the turtle sign was carved.

How about a turtle with no head, tail and feet?

If it happens that you come across a turtle sign with no head, tail or feet which is just the "Shell" (often applies to the shape of a rock). It means that there is some sort of "opening or entrance" somewhere nearby. But on some instances, it also means "search under" to uncover the sealed entrance.

Once you found the entrance, the tunnel should lead you into the chamber where the treasure is stored.

Overall, a turtle sign is one among the best Japanese treasure signs because it both confirms the site as "positive" and it clearly indicates the exact direction for you to follow. And above all, a site with a turtle sign is a project that I am willing to work on.