For the fanatic of unidentified flying objects, we dwell in fascinating occasions certainly. Again in 2021, as we previously featured here on Open Culture, the CIA declassified and printed 1000’s of pages of UFO-related paperwork. In simply the previous few weeks, three UFOs were 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 could have robust 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 an attractive girl 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 gives 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 seemed 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 referring to the Hitachi Utsuro-bune legend, of which probably the most fascinating are thought so far from 1803, the identical 12 months 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 up to date depictions of the Utsuro-bune itself (particularly within the 1835 Hyōryū kishū or “data of castaways,” as seen on the high of the put up) so carefully resemble modern-day visions of alien craft? On condition that the incident is held to have taken place in the course of 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 girl, 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.
Associated content material:
The Japanese Fairy Tale Series: The Illustrated Books That Introduced Western Readers to Japanese Tales (1885-1922)
The First Museum Dedicated to Japanese Folklore Monsters Is Now Open
The Ghosts and Monsters of Hokusai: See the Famed Woodblock Artist’s Fearsome & Amusing Visions of Strange Apparitions
The CIA Has Declassified 2,780 Pages of UFO-Related Documents, and They’re Now Free to Download
What Do Aliens Look Like? Oxford Astrobiologists Draw a Picture, Based on Darwinian Theories of Evolution
The Appeal of UFO Narratives: Investigative Journalist Paul Beban Visits Pretty Much Pop #14
Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embody the Substack publication Books on Cities, the ebook The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll via Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The City in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.