We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.


  • Case Number: #0124
  • Date: 22 February 1803
  • Time: Unknown
  • Location: Hitachi, Japan
  • Witness(es): Unknown
  • Classification: UFO's in History
In early 19th Century Japan, there would be a surge of UFO sightings all around the same time and all concerning the exact same craft and experiences. What all the witnesses claim to have seen is also very similar in appearance to modern day UFO sightings. These close encounters of the third kind were clearly documented and still exist to this day.

UFO stranded at the beach

Utsuro-bune, translated as ‘hollow ship’ is one of the oldest recorded instances of a modern UFO or as some may argue, USO sighting. Deep in Japan’s book repository is a document that dates back to the early part of the 1800’s called Hyouryuukishuu, translated as ‘Tales of Castaways’. This document includes stories of Japanese mariners who got lost at sea and ended up in unfamiliar nations. Within the texts is also the story of the Utsuro-bune (hollow ship), which tells of an incident when an unidentified ship made of red sandalwood and metallic materials, approximately three meters by five meters in size and with crystal or glass windows, washed up on a beach in Harashagahama in Hitachi province on the east coast of Japan. At the time the Japanese public were living in a state of national seclusion and so stories of these would have caused a great excitement.
When the craft was spotted by fishermen, they brought it ashore and on investigation they realized that inside there was a woman of around 18–20 years old with pale a complexion and red hair. The strange woman was holding a wooden box of around 60 centimeters in length that was clearly very important to her as she kept everyone away from it. The woman was speaking a strange language and inside the craft there were strange symbols carved that no one could understand. Being something of a spectacle, many from the villagers flocked down to see what was happening and none could decipher the strange woman’s language. Many drawings were made of the incident and some that survive to this day are considered to be the earliest known drawings of a UFO or USO. In this instance it was reported that the woman was eventually returned to the craft and then sent back out to sea.

multiple independent written accounts

What is unusual about this UFO sighting, is that the same scenario happened exactly the same in many locations across Japan. Each time with the same woman and the same box that she held so secretly to her chest. 
There was much speculation into the contents of the box, with some suggesting that it could have contained the severed head of her husband and being the cause of some scandal in her home country, she was send away in the craft as a way of punishment, with death not being a suitable punishment for a woman of high standing such as a princess. 
This is a possibility as a theory, as it is documented that at one of the sightings a local man gave a speech and said:

This woman may be a daughter of a king in a foreign country and might have been married in her home country. However, she loved another man after marriage and her lover was put to death."Since she was a princess previously, she could get sympathy and avoid the death penalty. She had been forced to be put in this boat and was left to the sea to be trusted to fate. If this conjecture is correct, her lover’s severed head is inside the square box.
In the past, a similar boat with a woman inside drifted ashore in a beach not far from here. In that incident, a severed head placed on a kind of chopping board was found inside the boat. Judging from this kind of second-hand information, the contents of the box may be similar. This may explain why the box is so important to her and she is always holding it in her hands.
We may be ordered to use much money to investigate this woman and boat. Since there is a precedent for casting this kind of boat back out to sea, we had better put her inside the boat and send it away. From a humanitarian viewpoint, this treatment is too cruel for her. However, this treatment would be her destiny.

There is also evidence from a later investigation by Kyokutei Bakin in 1844. He examined the book called ‘Roshia Bunkenroku’ which translates as ‘Records of seen and heard things from Russia’, which describes in detail the traditional clothing of Russia at the time and also mentions that many Russian women had natural red hair. He also noted that he had once witnessed the symbols written on the side of a British whaling ship and some of them had a striking resemblance to some of the symbols that were found inside of the mysterious craft that washed up on the shores of Japan.
In 2007, Dr. Kazuo Tanaka reopened the investigation into the Utsuro bune phenomena and began to examine the evidence surrounding it. Dr. Kazuo comments in his findings on the similarity between the craft witnessed in the early 1800’s and modern day UFO’s, and how it would have been a very big coincidence that so many people imagined a craft of such a shape 200 years ago, especially as at the time Japan was completely cut off to outsiders and outside news. Dr Kazuo also intensely investigated all of the ships in Japan at the time and could not find anything similar to the UFO. In interview, Dr Kazuo also claims that the key to the modern day UFO phenomena lies in the Utsuro-bune.

Share this sighting