For the fanatic of unidentified flying objects, we dwell in attention-grabbing instances certainly. Again in 2021, as we beforehand featured right here on Open Tradition, the CIA declassified and revealed 1000’s of pages of UFO-related paperwork. In simply the previous few weeks, three UFOs had been shot down over North America. Within the span of time between these occasions, a lot else has additionally occurred to stimulate the creativeness of those that’ve saved watching the skies. Fascination with UFOs might have sturdy cultural associations with twentieth-century America — and the topic can now really feel a bit passé for that motive — nevertheless it is aware of fewer cultural or temporal boundaries than we might imagine: witness, for instance, the Japanese folktale of Utsuro-bune.
“In 1803, a spherical vessel drifted ashore on the Japanese coast and a gorgeous lady emerged, sporting unusual clothes and carrying a field. She was unable to speak with the locals, and her craft was marked with mysterious writing.” Such is the premise of the legend as retold at Nippon.com, which additionally affords an evaluation by Gifu College professor emeritus Tanaka Kazuo.
“Lengthy earlier than the American UFO tales, the craft depicted in Edo-period Japanese paperwork for some motive regarded like a flying saucer,” he says. Nor have students traced Utsuro-bune (虚舟, which implies “hole ship”) again to just one supply: so far, Tanaka “has discovered eleven paperwork regarding the Hitachi Utsuro-bune legend, of which essentially the most attention-grabbing are thought so far from 1803, the identical yr that the craft was stated to have come to shore.”
What precisely occurred in Hitachi, a small metropolis on Japan’s east coast, in 1803? Why do close to modern depictions of the Utsuro-bune itself (particularly within the 1835 Hyōryū kishū or “data of castaways,” as seen on the high of the submit) so carefully resemble modern-day visions of alien craft? Provided that the incident is held to have taken place throughout the nation’s 265-year-long sakoku interval of nationwide isolation, no foreigner is more likely to have crossed over to Japanese shores with out inflicting a significant incident. Unable to speak with this mysterious lady, the fishermen of Hitachi are stated merely to have returned her — field and all — to the hole ship, which drifted again out to sea, by no means to be seen once more. It was her good luck, some ufologists may say, to have turned up on Earth a century and a half earlier than the opening of Space 51.