The unbelievable story of a Japanese soldier who hid in a jungle cave for 27 years until he was found in 1972

Panoramio/CC by 3.0/Wikimedia CommonsTalofofo Falls Resort Park, where Shoichi Yokoi dug a cave and hid for nearly 28 years after the US invasion of Guam during World War II.
  • On January 24, 1972, two hunters came across a man setting fishing traps in a river near Talofofo Falls in Guam.
  • The man was later identified as Shoichi Yokoi, a Japanese soldier who had been living in isolation in a self-made cave since World War II.
  • Yokoi fled and hid during the US invasion of Guam in 1944 rather than surrender and be taken prisoner.
  • He was repatriated in Japan in February 1972.

Shoichi Yokoi was 26 when he was drafted into the Japanese Army in 1941.

At the time, soldiers were taught that surrender was the worst possible fate for a soldier – so when US forces invaded Japanese-occupied Guam in 1944, Yokoi fled into the jungle.

He dug a cave near a waterfall, covered it with bamboo and reeds, and survived by eating small animals. He had no idea, when he was discovered on January 24, 1972 by two hunters near a river, that the war had ended decades ago.

He attacked the hunters, who were able to overpower the weakened soldier and escorted him to authorities, where he revealed his bizarre story.

Yokoi was treated at a hospital in Guam before heading home to Japan, which he had not seen since 1941.

Yokoi was sent to Guam after being drafted into the Japanese Army in 1941.

During the US invasion he and a number of other soldiers made their way into the jungle to avoid being taken as prisoners of war.

Japanese government officials flew to the island to help repatriate the soldier, who had not seen his homeland for nearly 30 years.

During his 27 years in isolation, he survived by eating frogs, rats, and eels as well as fruits and nuts, according to his obituary in The New York Times.

He made his own shelter, using bamboo and reeds to cover a cave he dug himself. In his memoirs, he said he buried at least two of his comrades eight years before he was discovered.

Yokoi arrived in Tokyo in February 1972 to a crowd of nearly 5,000 people applauding his return.

Keystone/Getty ImagesShoichi Yokoi weeps with emotion as a crowd applauds his arrival in Tokyo after hiding in Guam for nearly 28 years.

Although he was repatriated to Japan almost immediately, he reportedly flew back to Guam several times throughout the remainder of his life, including for his honeymoon.

According to his obituary, Yokoi had a hard time readjusting to life in Japan.

Yokoi covered his cave with bamboo and reeds.

Groverva/Wikimedia CommonsThe entrance to Yokoi’s cave is in Talofofo Falls Resort Park in Guam.

The soldier was a tailor before the war, skills that helped him make his shelter and clothing, according to Stars & Stripes.

The cave has reportedly collapsed, but a diagram at the site shows an idea of what it looked like.

hasano_jp/CC by 3.0/Wikimedia CommonsThis diagram sketches the cave where Yokoi hid for nearly 28 years.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.