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.

View Comments (182)

  • Anonymous says:
    • Anonymous says:

      Sir Elmo, we found the following signs:

      1. Turtle head sign pointing towards the water.
      2. At the water area, we found square shape rocks.
      3. A V shape rock that we found under the water.

      What do these signs means? Thanks.


      The turtle is a representation that the item is buried under the water. It can be quite hard to recover it unless you have the necessary tools and equipment. The square shape rock signify the “contained deposit” while the V shape rock is a pointer pointing into the hidden spot of the item.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sir, you said that the final sign is turtle sign , My Question is how deep is the deposit is buried from the turtle sign.
      The turtle sign we recovered is 4 feet deep beside a creek. The turtle sign is death the head is pointing downward it is perfectly drown same as your sample if only i could post to you the picture so that you see it. By the way before we started the dig we recovered first triangle sign drown at the rock. means beside a tree thats is where we recovered the turtle sign.
      Pls. Help us.

      Comval, davao

      • Since the turtle's head is pointing downward, it means that you need to dig down for a little bit deeper.

  • Anonymous says:
    • Good day Sir Elmo. We are a family of treasure hunters and recently we came across a prominent sign etched on a boulder covered with earth. This boulder is located on a dried up river at a turtle shape mountain in Mindanao. The sign is an arrow pointing to the left side downwards at the bottom of the rock. The rocks seems like chiseled to give way into an opening.

      The boulder itself has the same shape as the mountain that we are digging right now. Can you very if this sign is reliable? I have photos of the said sign.

      On every ten feet of our diggings, we were able to recover interesting looking rocks consisting of shapes like shoes, car and miniature version of the boulder. We are now at 50 feet deep and I do not know when this hunt will end.

      There are actually a lot of signs chiseled on the boulder but how can we distinguish them if they are authentic? I also got a lot of questions regarding about it. Thank you for replying.


      I need to check the signs. Please take several close shots at different angles and I suggest sending them into my FaceBook page because my email is heavily being spammed at the moment with malicious emails.

  • Anonymous says:
    • Elmo, good day. Sir, I have a project where we found a turtle sign which measures about 1 meter in size. We encountered it at a depth of 2 meters. As we continued digging, we found another marker with an engraved arrow head. I wonder if you can join me on this project. If interested, please communicate back to me on my email address. Thank you.


      First, what prompted you to dig on that spot which allowed you to recover the turtle sign in the first place?

  • Anonymous says:
    • I wish to encounter this turtle sign soon.


      Good luck.

  • Anonymous says:
    • Anonymous says:

      Hello Sir Elmo and good day. We found a turtle sign that is facing toward an engraved arrow sign on the surface of a rock. At the upper or further portion, there is a cave entrance near the river area. May I know your reading about this? Thanks and God bless you.


      I need to know if the engraved arrows sign on the rock is directly pointing into the location of the cave.

  • Anonymous says:
    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Sir Elmo, I saw two old tree at the mountain side near the small river. One of the tree is bent on its upper portion. At its lower part, there is a sign carved like a turtle (side view position). Its head is looking upward and his only one hand (but it's like a head also) looking at down right position. In his upper head or front head, there is a sign carved like a heart w/a hole or dot carved.

      Near at that site we recovered 2 pcs of old knife or samurai like in the bayonet gun of Japanese and a trapezoid like shaped small stone in 1 or 2 feet deep. We follow the edge of the knife to point the object then we started to dig. Then in our digging, 1 feet below there's a big rock with carved like a skull and it's surrounded by a boulder stone. We stop to dig at this area but near in the bend tree there's a big stone also and we started to moved it.

      Under the surface of the stone we saw a mark like heart and a hole or dot. So trying to dig and I saw a turtle shaped stone 2 feet size or its diameter - no head, no tail or hand - in a 1 feet or less depth.

      We stop again in digging because of no lot of time but I know the site is positive. Sir Elmo what can you say about the area? the sign in the old tree, the two knife or samurai and the trapezoid shaped small stone we recovered and the big stone with heart marked at center and a hole or dot on the lower surface? As you think or idea where is the right place of the deposit if it is positive site?


      I think that your area is positive because those two knives and old samurai are already strong evidence of hidden deposits. Anyway, I think that this is a multi-deposits. One is near the turtle sign, second on the location of the bent tree and third is where you found the samurai.

      The tree is suggesting that you should dig or inspect the portion where it is directly bent.

      In regards about the turtle sign that you found, I already covered it on this discussion. The dot or heart carved on its head symbolizes the hidden item.

      As for the knife and samurai, you have interpreted it correctly. You just have to continue working on it.

  • Anonymous says:
    • Hello Sir Elmo, We have project here in northern Luzon. First of all before we start digging we locate a century old mango tree, at the middle of the tree we found big nail pointing diagonally.

      We start digging until we hit a blue clay, we don't know if that is cement? Some area are soft some are hard.

      At 12 ft, we found log measured 6 x 4 inches, length maybe 4 ft. We continued digging down until we found fine sand if it contact to our skin its very itchy and it smell bad and fishy smell.

      At 18 ft, we found a big rock 80kg. That shape a turtle shell no head, no tail and feet! At the shell we saw a lot of carving of japanese character (Kanji) we dig widely at the area we found the entance tunnel and blocked a rock.

      Can I have some advice Sir so that we can easliy retrieve the item?

      Ty Sir.

    • All those strange objects that you encountered are positive signs. What they mean is that, they are stating that you are digging on the correct path. Thus, my advice is to continue digging. Anyway, the item is usually near if you finally hit the tough layers or blockages.

  • Anonymous says:
    • Geb Catubo says:

      Good morning, I have a turtle head in my area and it's a big stone turtle head facing north. In a hill, this stone suppose to hang in the clip due to landslide, it was now 5 meters near the creek.

    • It is suggesting that you should try to check the northern portion of that area.

  • Anonymous says:
    • Good day Sir Elmo.

      I have found a sun sign with 9 spokes at the center of the hill facing west. The hill goes down around 20 meters. The down portion is a river. How locate the item?

    • The location of the item is a few distance away from the spot where you discovered the Sun sign. Anyway, I suggest further exploration on the area.

  • Anonymous says:
    • Anonymous says:

      Sir Elmo can you interpret the meaning of a two heart sign in between is monkey sign?

    • It means that there are two deposits around the area hidden inside or underneath an old tree.

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