In 2011, a massive tsunami hit the Japanese coast, causing hundreds of billions of dollars in damage and thousands of casualties. Almost everyone was completely taken by surprise by the onslaught. Someone who wasn’t surprised was Koji Minoura, a Japanese paleontologist who had figured out this was going to happen years in advance. How did he know? Because of a poem.
In the late 1980s, Minoura had become intrigued by an ancient poem which told of “the famed waves of Sue-No-Matsuyama,” which he suspected had a nugget of truth buried in its text. And he was right. Through analyzing the soil in the region the poem was set, Minoura discovered ocean water in one of the layers, proving there had been a massive earthquake/tsunami duet in the year 869. Digging deeper, Minoura discovered something chilling: The same tsunami affected layers every thousand years — and the next one was overdue.
He began alerting everyone who mattered in the country that another disaster was imminent. But the paleontologist started running out of time — and he couldn’t dig himself out of it. Nuclear plants were a particular area of concern to Minoura. He showed his data to officials at Tokyo Electric in the early ’90s, noting that their seaside locations meant that a quakenami would be “really bad.” His warnings were cast aside, thinking tsunamis of that scale were about as likely as another Godzilla attack.
Of course, after the horrific event, Tokyo Electric stated that they had been “in the process” of considering protective modifications to the plant before the tsunami, which is exactly as vague and useless as it sounds. So in the future, governments of the world, please listen to your rogue paleontologists.