Friday, 13 January 2012

The Legend of the 'Utsuro-bune': UFO in Edo Period Japan?

Hello there~,

It has cooled down in my country after the intense burst of heat this past week. It looks like it might rain for a few days. I like rain so that's good.

I was asked to write about 'Amigurumi' by a follower and was thinking of doing that but I wasn't sure if she/he just wanted a general post about it or how to make them or what...? And I'll have to do research about it as I've not much knowledge about it.

So today's post is about a mysterious legend about the 'Utsuro-bune' (Hollow boat) that supposedly took place in 1803, on a beach in a place that is now called Ibaraki prefecture. It is located just east of Tokyo.

There are several versions of the legend but in general goes something like this.

In the spring of 1803, an unusual object thought to be a boat was observed to be floating in the close to shore by fishermen. They set out on their own boats, captured it and pulled it onto the beach.

The boat was round and resembled a Japanese pot and was approximately 6m in diameter.  The bottom was made from iron and was so strong that it could withstand crashes into rocks. The top was made glass and so it was possible to look straight in.

In the the vessel was a beautiful young female of around 20 years old. She was approximately 5 shaku (151.5m) in height and had pink face. Her hair and eyebrows were red and also had white hair extensions that that fell below her back (sometimes just black). She undoubtedly had very attractive face.

The garments she wore were unfamiliar in style and were made from fabrics they had never seen before. The language she spoke could not be understood at all and she held a mysterious box. She guarded it very tightly and would not allow anyone to open it or even get close to it. There were two carpet like things inside the boat which seemed very soft, but again, the material used for it were unknown. She had about 4 liters of water in her boat. For food she had things that looked like sweets, something that looked like mince meat. She also had one tea bowl with impressive but unfamiliar patterns.

The people didn't know what to do with her, but all she did was smile or look blank. An elder them suggested that she was probably abandoned into the sea by her country as a punishment and that her husband's head must be in the box she was guarding. It would become a bother if the bakufu (Japanese government) found out, so they put her back in the boat and pushed it back into the sea for it to drift away. 

Pretty heartless of the people to make her drift off again don't you think? It would have been nice if they tried to find out more about her.....too bad I suppose.

Here are various pictures portraying the legend.

The writing on the left are unfamiliar letters that were said to be written inside the boat. 

Same letters on the right of this picture.


                                                                                                           Japanese cooking pot 'kama'

As you can see, it resembles what we nowadays call a 'flying saucer'. So obviously, UFO fanatics and people studying these subjects use it as proof  for existence of aliens and encounters with Earthlings. It is a very interesting story though, and that's all it can be proven to be at the moment unfortunately, 'a story'. Even so, it's kinda hard for a foreign person to drift from another country in a strange boat never before seen. The closest country is Korea and although that'll explain the different clothes and language, what was the strange boat? It's equally as possible to be an extraterrestrial person stranded in the see I suppose?

Well it's more interesting to think that way in my opinion.


  1. The first time I saw Hangeul letters, I really thought it looked like a sci-fi language! lol
    I wouldn't be surprised if the message written that they saw on the box was in Hangeul.

    The story itself is a bit disturbing somehow. I didn't know there were already such report at these times.
    I also find it cruel that these people decided to get rid of this young woman and her UFO as if they would sweep dust under the carpet...

    These people were totally the opposite of people in "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter" (probably one of the first tales with sci-fi element).

    Maybe this young woman was Pandora and her box... If so, that would mean she liked hair extensions (already very fashion at these times)

    The flying saucer in these drawings looks a bit like a rice cooker and traditional jars used for storing kimchi.

    A lot of questions could be raised if this story was really true.

    Speaking of UFO:
    (hehe but I really love the strings arrangement in this song and the witty lyrics.)

    I'm glad to know there is a decrease in temperature in your country. I can imagine how it is when it's really hot outside (here when it's more than 40°C, there is nobody outside).
    I still remember what happened in Australia two years ago with fire because of heat.

    In case if you miss the heat, you can watch this (they will "make you feel the heat" according to the lyrics) (lol):

  2. At first, I also thought that her box was Pandora's box. Otherwise, this story (to me) just talks about how humans can be heartless especially towards things we cannot understand.

  3. I also thought of Pandora's Box but that was supposed to have happened thousands of years before. So unless if she was riding a time machine....

    They could have been hangul letters though, since they use circles and stuff. Who knows, it's just a legend that will probably never be proven.

  4. That's a nice story.

  5. Why couldn't she have made the boat herself? And aliens don't really look like that do they...???

    1. Well....I haven't really seen an alien so I wouldn't know.
      It's not the same as the stereotypical big eyed green men though.

      I suppose she could have made a boat but it's a pretty weird boat to make.

      Besides, it's a legend from olden times when people didn't really document events properly. So who knows.

  6. My great, great, great, great grandfather was one of the fishermen who captured the vessel. Family legend has it that the female was smaller than a Japanese , but perfectly developed. She smelled of flowers.