by Andrew Arnett

With all the UFO related hubbub kicking up as a result of an article published last December by The New York Times regarding the existence of a secret Pentagon UFO study program and, more recently, the release of yet another Pentagon video of a UFO encounter, foreign governments are under increasing scrutiny and pressure from their citizenry to come clean and reveal what, if anything, they know about the UFO phenomenon.

Such is the case in Japan where, on February 27, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet issued a statement denying a UFO threat and stating “their existence has not been confirmed” and “we have not made any particular consideration of how to respond should one fly into Japan.” The statement came in response to an inquiry made by Seiji Osaka, a member of the Lower House opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

There’s little surprise that the government there has chosen at this time to not lay its UFO evidence out on the table for all to see, if such evidence does exist. This is and has been the M.O. for governments round the world since the UFO flap began in 1947. Nonetheless, the necessity for such a denial speaks volumes regarding ever increasing occurrences of sightings and encounters with UFOs, and the need for governments to quell concerns.

Indeed, the UFO mystery goes way back, in Japanese culture, and is embeded in Japanese folklore itself. We shall, in this article, take a closer look at some such curious cases, starting back at the dawn of the Industrial Age. In Japan, during the early 19th century, a series of unusual paintings appeared, by a variety of artists, from different provinces, which share a similar theme — that of the mystery of Utsuro-bune.

Depicted in all these paintings is a young woman, sometimes seen with red hair but always pale-skinned and beautiful. Nearby sits a spherical object, referred to as the Utsuro-bune (“hollow boat”). Though rendered with some variation by differing artists, this object is invariably round, covered, large enough to fit at least one person, and fitted with panels, or some kind of window opening.

The paintings tell of a legend, and the story goes like this: In the year 1803, there drifted onto the northern beaches of Hitachi province, in modern day Ibaraki prefecture, a large disc shaped object. A group of local fishermen found the object and described it as being made of metal, with crystal windows. Some said the object looked like a large incense burner.

Upon looking into the windows of this unusual ship, the fishermen could see strange symbols written on the walls but, most surprisingly, they discovered a fair skinned beautiful woman inside, wearing a garment made of some unknown fur or fine fabric. When the woman emerged from the ship, they found they could not communicate with her, for she spoke in an unknown language. Nonetheless, the woman appeared friendly enough, though she clutched a mysterious box which she kept to herself.

One version of the story states that the woman stayed on in that province where she landed, and lived to a fine old age. Other versions suggest the fishermen were quite spooked by the appearance of this stranger and thought it best to load her back onto her ship and push her back out to sea, wherein she drifted until landing on other beaches, evoking similar responses of shock and suspicion from locals along the way.

The legend of Utsuro-bune comes to us from a variety of sources, the first one appearing in 1825 in Toen shōsetsu (Tales from the Rabbit Garden) by Kyokutei Bakin. Another version appears in Hyōryū kishū (Diary and Stories of the Castaways) written in 1835 by an unknown author, and in Ume-no-chiri (Dust of the Apricot) by Nagahashi Matajirō in 1844.

It is easy to see the appeal of this story to Ufologists, who find in the spherical Utsuro-bune an object closely resembling a UFO or, more accurately, a USO (Unidentified Submerged Object) as well as the alien-like description of the woman found inside. Another layer of mystery is added by researchers who find similarity between symbols found on Utsuro-bune, as depicted by artists, and those symbols associated with the Roswell incident and the Rendlesham Forest incident.

Perhaps Utsuro-bune was a bonafide extraterrestrial or, maybe, there is a perfectly reasonable terrestrial explanation to the mystery. Whatever the case may be, it is not the only incident of strange UFO encounters handed down to us through Japanese legends, as we shall examine in our next article.

This story was originally published by Andrew Arnett on April 6, 2018 @ Paranoia Magazine


Utsuro Bune – The Hollow Ship