Half a Century in the Making: Tree ‘Crop Circles’ Emerge in Japan

the two tree ‘crop circles’ | photo courtesy Sankei News

Two peculiar ‘crop circles’ have recently been spotted in Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture. Viewable only from above, they were formed by sugi (Japanese cedar) trees.

Conspiracy theorists will be disappointed to learn that there is a very practical explanation for how these shapes emerged: science. Specifically, it was the result of a scientific experiment that spanned close to 50 years.

According to documentation (PDF) we obtained from Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in 1973 an area of land near Nichinan City was designated as “experimental forestry” and one of the experiments was to try and measure the effect of tree spacing on growth. The experiment was carried out by planting trees in 10 degree radial increments forming10 concentric circles of varying diameters.

image courtesy FNN

Part of what makes the crop circles so alluring are their concave shape, which was an unexpected result of the experiment that would suggest tree density does indeed affect growth. The trees are due to be harvested in about 5 years but officials are now considering preserving the crop circles.

Below is an image from Google Earth, which is unfortunately a bit dark. For those who are interested, here are the exact coordinates.

image courtesy Google Earth


  1. Your link for the location was wrong for me. I did find the trees in the forest 😉 about 800 meters north of the spot you linked to: Dropped pin
    Near 〒889-2402 Miyazaki-ken, Nichinan-shi, Kitagōchō Gōnoharakō, 飫肥杉ミステリーサークル

  2. The 3d google maps view is very interesting, the trees are planted on a slope and you can see the reforestation of the mountain. https://goo.gl/maps/hRGDnJEP1QE2

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