Man left alone with Peru’s Incan treasure


Art by Marion Krowczyk

Only once has one of the Seven Wonders of the World opened for a single man. That one time happened on October 10, 2020 for Jesse Katayama.

Jesse Katayama recently experienced a private tour of Machu Picchu after filing a special request to visit the site. Katayama, who is originally from Japan, waited in Peru for seven months to see the ancient Incan site. 

According to CBS News, Katayama had flown from Japan to see Machu Picchu, but he had to cancel his visit to the site two days before due to harsh COVID-19 guidelines put in place by the Peruvian government. These guidelines were implemented on March 15, 2020. The Peruvian borders were closed, and Peruvians were banned from leaving their homes except for essential needs. Even though Peru established these strict guidelines, the Peruvian COVID-19 cases and death tolls kept rapidly increasing. This only extended Katayama’s stay in Peru. 

“This man’s determination is admirable, as his decision to wait out the pandemic shows great respect for those who have come before us,” history teacher Mr. Weber said. While he waited, he made good use of his time by participating in the community and seeking ways of self improvement.

“Maybe he waited through closures because of Machu Picchu’s ancient and historical significance,” said sophomore Emma Streck. Machu Picchu’s spiritual and cultural significance is one of the reasons Katayama waited so long to visit it. Machu Picchu was discovered by the outside world in 1911 by a man named Hiram Bingham, although it was familiar to the Peruvian locals for hundreds of years. 

Machu Picchu, which translates to “Old Mountain,” is classified one of the Seven Wonders of the New World. This ancient Incan site is suspected of being a place of worship to the sun god and a home to the Incan royal family. Culturally, it shows how the Incan people mastered agriculture and building. 

“Maybe he was interested in seeing how it was built and the area around it,” said freshman Carmela Martinez of Katayama’s long stay in Peru. The structure is built with more than 700 terraces to promote agriculture and house the majority of Peru’s exotic flora and fauna, which only emphasizes that Machu Picchu is truly a structural and agricultural feat. Sources still speculate Katayama’s motives for staying in Peru to see Machu Picchu. 

Katayama has made history in his private tour of one of the Seven Wonders of the New World, when all he wanted was to take a quick vacation. Katayama’s experience is just one unique effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are so many more in the lives of Americans everyday.