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Utsurobune 虚舟: The UFO phenomenon in Japan

11 de April de 2024

In this article we will look at the legend of Utsurobune, the UFO phenomenon in Japan.

Introduction to UFOs in Japan along with the myth of Utsurobune (虚舟).

Japan is a nation rich in traditions, legends and myths that have endured over the centuries, leaving a deep imprint on its culture. One of the most intriguing and fascinating mysteries is the phenomenon of Utsurobune, a legend that has captured the imagination of generations.

In this exploration, we will dive into the world of Utsurobune and unravel its enigmas.

Before we look at the origins of Utsuro bune, theories, interpretations and history a brief summary of what happened:


It happened in the year 1803, in Hitachinokuni, in present-day Ibaraki Prefecture. A strange disc-shaped vehicle washed ashore and a woman dressed in strange clothes and carrying a box emerged from inside.

“The strange case of Hitachinokuni’s Utsurobune”.

Books about Utsurobune (虚舟)

  • Toen shōsetsu (From the year 1825)
  • Nansō satomi hakkenden
  • Ume no chiri (Plum powder, from the year 1844) by the author Nagahashi Matajirō.
  • Ōshuku zakki (Miscellaneous records of Ōshuku)
  • Hirokata zuihitsu (Hirokata’s tests)
  • Hyōryūki-shū (Drift records)

In all of them, an unidentified vehicle in the shape of a disc appears.

Story of the Hyōryūki-shū

From the book Hyōryūki-shū (author unknown): Relates that a disc-shaped vehicle arrives at Harashagahama, in the city of Hitachinokuni.

From inside the craft emerges a young woman of unparalleled beauty, dressed in clothes of great splendor, whose age is estimated to be between 18 and 20 years old.

Her complexion was pale, while her eyebrows and hair had a deep reddish hue. Puzzlingly, the local inhabitants are unable to understand her language, nor are they able to identify her geographic origin.

With a cautious disposition, he holds a white wooden box in his hands, showing no attempt to capture the attention of those present.

The records mention that the vessel bore inscriptions of a unique nature. The illustration in the header (cover photo of this article) corresponds to a section taken from the same image from the Bunko Iwase Library, located in the city of Nishio, Aichi Prefecture.

Origins of Utsurobune (虚舟).

The legend of Utsurobune (虚舟), which means “disappearing ship” or “drifting ship” in Japanese, originates from the 19th century. It is recorded in the book “Toen shōsetsu” (Stories of the Far Far Away), written by Kyokutei Bakin in 1825.

The story tells of a fisherman’s encounter with a strange boat drifting in Haratono Bay. The boat was made of unknown materials and contained a beautiful and exotic woman, as well as unusual artifacts and a strange text that no one could decipher.

The legend of Utsurobune Nekojitablog (explained by themselves)

Nekojitablog and otsurobune

Description of the utsurobune (虚舟) Phenomenon.

The account describes how the woman communicated with the fisherman through an unknown language, carrying objects suggesting a distant provenance. The boat itself was unlike any Japanese vessel known at the time, with unique features and materials. The story recounts the fisherman’s curiosity and bewilderment at this mysterious visit from another land.


Interpretations and Theories of Utsurobune

Over the years, various theories have been proposed about the Utsurobune phenomenon. Some believe it may have been an early attempt to describe a UFO sighting, due to the unusual descriptions of the ship and its crewman. Others suggest that it might have been a fictional tale created by Kyokutei Bakin to entertain his readers, tapping into a fascination with the unknown and the exotic.

Others that she was a goddess, below I tell you all about it. The legend related to Utsurobune and the Japanese Goddess Sanreison of Shōfuku.

Document Myth, the legend of Konjikihime

The Mito document, which is in the possession of an experienced document collector based in the metropolis of Mito, located in Ibaraki Prefecture, is an intriguing testimony.

The image of the woman in the Mito document, had the clothing and attire of the goddess Sanreison of Shōfuku, a deity venerated at a shrine in the town of Kamisu, Ibaraki.

This shrine, dedicated to the promotion of sericulture, has deep roots in Ibaraki Prefecture and houses the famous Konjikihime Legend, which is closely related to the origins of silkworm farming. A Buddhist statue in the Shōfuku compound also features the same motif as the image in question.


Legend of Konjikihime and the legend of Utsurobune

The tale of the princess, who sailed in a cocoon-shaped boat constructed from logs and traveled from the lands of India to Hitachinokuni, before rising to the heavens and sharing the secrets of sericulture with a local couple in gratitude for their care, is a narrative that has been maintained over time.

Among the 11 documents discovered so far, several variations in the clothing of the woman depicted are distinguishable, but the Mythos Archive is the only one that presents a clear connection to the Konjikihime legend.

It is suspected that the Shōfuku community may have seized on this story to give the temple greater visibility, especially when the story of the Utsurobune emerged in Kashimanada.

What about you, what do you think? Leave a comment below, it’s an interesting topic for discussion.

Impact of the legend of Utsurobune on Japanese Culture

The legend of Utsurobune has left an indelible mark on Japanese culture. It has inspired literary, artistic and cinematic works, as well as debates about its authenticity. The story also serves as a reminder of the capacity of the human imagination to weave fascinating and mysterious tales that capture people’s attention over the centuries.

Utsurobune Conclusion

The Utsurobune phenomenon is an exceptional example of how Japanese legends and myths can combine elements of mystery, exoticism and the inexplicable to create captivating narratives.

While the origin and authenticity of the story may remain a mystery, the legacy of Utsurobune persists as a testament to the human ability to create stories that continue to intrigue and amaze generations to come.