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Utsuro-Bune: The Mystery Of The Hollow Ship Finally Resolved

Utsuro-Bune: The Mystery Of The Hollow Ship Finally Resolved

The Utsuro-Bune incident was allegedly about the Utsuro-Bune or the hollow ship that was an unknown object, washed against the shore in Hitachi province on the eastern coast of Japan, in 1803. This incident has caught numerous UFOlogist’s and researcher’s attention since very long time. It has tales written in three different texts, as claimed in the pages of history. On February 22nd, in 1803, some local fishermen spotted a floating hollow ship. This was how it all started.

What is the Utsuro-Bune Incident?

Utsuro-Bune: The Mystery Of The Hollow Ship Finally ResolvedInk drawing of the Utsuro-bune by Kyokutei Bakin (1825)

The Utsuro-Bune incident is all about an attractive woman that arrived on the shore of Japan, aboard a hollow ship. Firstly, the hollow ship was something not very familiar to the Japanese and secondly, the attractive woman, did not seem to be from Japan, to the people. The woman was fairly short in height, dressed in a strange way and spoke a language, which was different than Japanese.

The hollow ship, according to the legend, was made of metal and glass. Apparently, the shape of this ship was round, and at that time, there were no round ships in Japan. Additionally, the hollow ship had weird symbols that the Japanese back then, failed to decipher.

Utsuro-Bune: The Mystery Of The Hollow Ship Finally ResolvedImage Source (Image Source)

The village men accompanied the woman to the village, but could not communicate with her, as she spoke a different language. They allegedly described her as polite, with fiery red hair and red eyebrows. But, the most strange thing was, in her hands she held a box that was 60 cm in length.

This tale has been narrated in three different texts, Toen shōsetsu (1825), Hyōryū kishū(1835) and Ume-no-chiri (1844). The book Toen shōsetsu contains the most detailed version of this incident.

Toen Shōsetsu

Tales from the Rabbit Garden, it was composed in 1825 by Kyokutei Bakin. The manuscript of this narration is still on display today. The Toen Shosetsu version of the account is as follows as found:

“On February 22 in 1803, local fishers of the ‘Harayadōri’ (はらやどり) shore in the Hitachi province saw an ominous “ship” drifting in the waters. Curious, they towed the vessel back to land, discovering that it was 3.30 metres (129.9 inches) high and 5.45 metres (212.6 inches) wide, reminding the witnesses of a Kōhako (Japanese incense burner). Its upper part appeared to be made of red coated rosewood, while the lower part was covered with brazen plates, obviously to protect it against the sharp-edged rocks. The upper part had several windows made of glass or crystal, covered with bars and clogged with some kind of tree resin. The windows were completely transparent and the baffled fishermen looked inside. The inner side of the Utsuro-bune was decorated with texts written in an unknown language. The fishermen found items inside such as two bed sheets, a bottle filled with 3.6 litres of water, some cake and kneaded meat. Then the fishermen saw a beautiful young woman, possibly 18 or 20 years old. Her body size was said to be 1.5 metres (4.93 feet). The woman had red hair and eyebrows, the hair elongated by artificial white extensions. The extensions could have been made of white fur or thin, white-powdered textile streaks. This hair style cannot be found in any literature. The skin of the lady was a very pale pink colour. She wore precious, long and smooth clothes of unknown fabrics. The woman began speaking, but no one understood her. She did not seem to understand the fishermen either, so no one could ask her about her origin. Although the mysterious woman appeared friendly and courteous, she acted oddly, for she always clutched a quadratic box made of pale material and around 0.6 m (23.62 in) in size. The woman did not allow anyone to touch the box, no matter how kindly or pressingly the witnesses asked.

Utsuro-Bune: The Mystery Of The Hollow Ship Finally ResolvedInk drawing of the Utsuro-bune by Nagahashi Matajirou (1844).

An old man from the village said, “This woman could be a princess of a foreign realm, who married at her homeland. But when she had an affair with a townsman after marriage, it caused a scandal and the lover was killed for punishment. The princess was banned from home, for she enjoyed lots of sympathy, so she escaped the death penalty. Instead, she might have been exposed in that Utsuro-bune to leave her to destiny. If this should be correct, the quadratic box may contain the head of the woman’s deceased lover. In the past, a very similar object with a woman was washed ashore on a close-by beach. During this incident a small board with a pinned head was found. The content of the box could therefore be the same, which would certainly explain why she protects it so much. It would afford lots of money and time to investigate the woman and her boat. Since it seems to be tradition to expose those boats at sea, we should bring the woman back to the Utsuro-bune and let her drift away. From human sight it might be cruel, but it seems to be her predetermined destiny.” The fishermen reassembled the Utsuro-bune, placed the woman in it, and set it to drift away into the ocean.“

A close examination of this narration reveals the possibility of two theories, one being connected to the Japanese mythology and the other being a Russian Conspiracy.

Warlock Asylum’s Theory 1

Utsuro-Bune: The Mystery Of The Hollow Ship Finally ResolvedImage Source (Image Source)

The Utsuro-Bune incident mimics the Japanese mythology. The fact that the attractive woman carried a box, which she did not allow anyone to touch, links the whole incident with an attractive woman who was found in a vessel with  Toyotama-hime-no-Mikoto, also known as Otohime. The events following Taro’s marriage to Toyotama-hime-no-Mikoto is described in a Wikipedia account under the title Urashima Taro.

“Tarō stays there with her for a few days, but soon wants to go back to his village and see his aging mother, so he requests Otohime’s permission to leave. The princess says she is sorry to see him go, but wishes him well and gives him a mysterious box called tamatebako which will protect him from harm but which she tells him never to open. Tarō grabs the box, jumps on the back of the same turtle that had brought him there, and soon is at the seashore.

When he goes home, everything has changed. His home is gone, his mother has vanished, and the people he knew are nowhere to be seen. He asks if anybody knows a man called Urashima Tarō. They answer that they had heard someone of that name had vanished at sea long ago. He discovers that 300 years have passed since the day he left for the bottom of the sea. Struck by grief, he absent-mindedly opens the box the princess had given him, from which bursts forth a cloud of white smoke. He is suddenly aged, his beard long and white, and his back bent. From the sea comes the sad, sweet voice of the princess: “I told you not to open that box. In it was your old age …” – as found in Wikipedia and here:

The fact that the woman described in the Utsuro-Bune legend as holding a box tightly, which she would not let anyone touch, would indicate that she was in fact an emissary of Ryugu-jo, the Dragon Palace from beneath the sea and not an alien from outer space as theorized by some UFOlogists. One of the oldest accounts has made mentions of the Dragon Palace, as found in the Nihon Shoki and here:

“Now Hiko-hoho-demi no Mikoto went up to the foot of this tree and loitered about. After some time a beautiful woman appeared, and, pushing open the door, came forth. She at length took a jewel-vessel and approached. She was about to draw water, when, raising her eyes, she saw him, and was alarmed. Returning within, she spoke to her father and mother, saying: “There is a rare stranger at the foot of the tree before the gate.” The god of the Sea thereupon prepared an eightfold cushion and led him in. When they bad taken their seats, he inquired of him the object of his coming. Then Hiko-hoho-demi no Mikoto explained to him, in reply, all the circumstances. The Sea-god accordingly assembled the fishes, both great and small, and required of them an answer. They all said: “We know not. Only the Red-woman has had a sore mouth for some time past and has not come.” She was therefore peremptorily summoned to appear and on her mouth being examined the lost hook was actually found.”

In some records, the Dragon God is described to have long red hair, so possibly, the attractive woman was not an alien but an emissary of Ryugu-jo.

Warlock Asylum’s Theory 2

For people who are more practical than spiritual, the second theory would be more relevant. It considers the whole incident as possibly a mission organised by Russia to take notes and surveys of the coastal regions of Japan. This military strategy was similar to Trojan Horse. Shortly after the hollow ship incident, Japan encountered interactions from Russia, for opening up its borders.

As found in Wikipedia and here:

“The first historical investigations of the Utsuro-bune incident were conducted in 1844 by Kyokutei Bakin (1767–1848). Kyokutei reports about a book called Roshia bunkenroku (魯西亜聞見録‘Records of seen and heard things fromRussia‘), written by Kanamori Kinken. The book describes traditional Russian clothes and hairstyles and mentions a popular method to dust hair with white powder. It also mentions that many Russian woman have natural red hair and that they wear skirts, similar to that of the lady of the legend. Based upon the book, Kyokutei concludes that the woman of the Utsuro-bune incident could have been of Russian origin. He writes that the stories are similar to each other, as they differ only in minor descriptions (for example, one documents says “3.6 litres of water”, another says “36 litres of water”). He also questions the origin of the alleged exotic symbols found in and on the boat. Because he is convinced that he saw similar signs on a British whaler stranded shortly before his writing, Kyokutei wonders if the woman was a Russian, British or even American princess. Furthermore, he expresses his disappointment about the drawings of the Utsuro-bune, because they obviously do not fully match the witness descriptions.“

One thing that pointed towards the supernatural origin of the hollow ship, is the strange set of symbols inscribed upon the ship. These symbols were very similar to those that appeared in the Simon Necronomicon and the Vasuh language, specifically those found at Roswell.

Utsuro-Bune: The Mystery Of The Hollow Ship Finally ResolvedImage Source (Image Source)

Still, the researchers, historians, and UFOlogists, after an in depth research, have come to a conclusion that this incident was nothing more than a folklore. People imagined the whole narration and finely put it together, in a way that it will seem real. Tanaka and Yanagida, the historians, pointed out that according to their research, the people of the Edo period shared great interests in paranormal accounts, so tales like the Utsuro-bune were not a surprise.


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