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Ink drawing of the Utsuro-bune by Nagahashi Matajirou (1844).
Ink drawing of the Utsuro-bune by Nagahashi Matajirou (1844).

Utsuro-bune has captured the minds of historians and ufologists for quite some time. Legend has it that on February 22nd in 1803, some local fishermen in the Hitachi province on the eastern coast of Japan, discovered a strange vessel floating in the sea.

According to the legend, this vessel contained an attractive young woman, who appeared to be between the ages of 18 to 20 years old. The fishermen brought her inland to investigate the matter further, but the woman was unable to communicate in Japanese and the fishermen were unable to understand the language she spoke. There are several texts, written shortly after the incident occurred, that describe the situation in great detail. In a Wikipedia article on the subject it states:

“The best-known versions of the legend are found in three texts:
  • Toen shōsetsu (兎園小説 ‘tales from the rabbit garden), composed in 1825 by Kyokutei Bakin. The manuscript is today on display at the Mukyū-Kai-Toshokan at Machida (Tokyo prefecture).
  • Hyōryū kishū (漂流紀集 ‘diary and stories of the castaways), composed during the Edo period in 1835 by an unknown author. It is today on display at the library of the Tenri University at Tenri in the Nara prefecture.
  • Ume-no-chiri (梅の塵 ‘dust of the apricot’), composed in 1844 by Nagahashi Matajirō. It is today on display at the private library Iwase-Bunko-Toshokan (岩瀬文庫図書館) at Nara.
Description in all three books bear similarity, thus they seem to have the same historical origins. The book Toen shōsetsu contains the most detailed version.

What is the historical meaning of the Utsuro Bune legend?
What is the historical meaning of the Utsuro Bune legend?

Amazingly, we find that all three versions of the account cited in Wikipedia are consistent in their description of what occurred. The Toen Shosetsu version of the account is as follows:

“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.

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.

Other legends compare greatly with the Toen Shosetsu version of the account. a close examination of this version with both historical and legendary material reveals only two possible explanations for what occurred. Let us examine this a bit more closely.


Two Conclusion About The Utsuro Bune Incident

Well, we decided to provide two solutions for the Utsuro Bune Incident. Number one is for those who insist that this legend is proof of the existence of the supernatural, in lack of a better word. Conclusion number two is for those who have tried to process this legend historically and in a practical manner.

Warlock Asylum’s Theory #1: What is surprising about the Utsuro Bune incident is that it mimics certain ideas that have been contained in Japanese mythology for hundreds of years.

Is the woman in the legend of Utsuro Bune connected to Ryugu-jo?
Is the woman in the legend of Utsuro Bune connected to Ryugu-jo?

In all versions of the account, the woman is noted as having a box that she would not let anyone touch and kept close to her person. The description of the box, in various accounts of the legend, would connect the attractive woman, who was found in the vessel, with Toyotama-hime-no-Mikoto, who is also known as Otohime.

In one legend, Toyotama-hime-no-Mikoto, who is also known as  Otohime, weds Urashima Tarō. Urashima Tarō was magically transported to Ryugu-jo, the Dragon Palace beneath the sea after saving a turtle who happened to be the daughter of the Dragon god, Ryujin, also known as Owatatsumi-no-Mikoto. 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 …”

Here we see that a box called tamatebako played a very important role in the myth. The fact that the woman described in the Utsuro Bune legend as also holding on tightly to a box, 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.

We should also keep in mind that the woman in the Utsuro Bune legend is described as having red hair and pinkish skin. If this woman was in fact linked to the Dragon Palace, then more than likely she would have red hair.

One of the oldest accounts that make mention of the Dragon Palace is found in the Nihon Shoki. In the mythology of Hiko-hoho-demi no Mikoto, we read:

“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.”

The Nihon Shoki’s description of this “Red-woman” may in part was a woman who possesed the same features as that of the Utsuro Bune legend. In fact the Dragon god himself, Ryujin, who is also known as Owatatsumi-no-Mikoto is described as having long red hair, in some records. Our first conclusion is that the ship and the woman of Utsuro Bune is in fact an emissary of Ryugu-jo, perhaps sent to warn the Japanese of certain outside political forces that were trying to get Japan to open up its borders at the time.

Warlock Asylum’s Theory #2: For those who are not into the supernatural, but seek to understand the meaning of the Utsuro Bune legend, we can say that the woman, the boat, and everything else was a mission organized possibly by Russia.

It is very well possible that the woman was sent out to take notes and survey some of the coastal regions of Japan in order to get an idea of its geographical dimensions. This military strategy is identical to that of the Trojan Horse.

Shortly after the Utsuro Bune incident, Japan encountered a series of interactions with the Russians in an attempt to get Japan to open up its borders. In the first half of the 19th century, Japan was a secretive island, isolated from the world by its self-imposed Sakoku trade policy. This period of isolation did not allow any trade with foreign countries, with the two exceptions of China and the Netherlands. Trade with these two nations was strongly restricted. The Netherlands was only allowed to trade from the artificial island of Deshima in the port of Nagasaki. Entering Japan itself was strictly prohibited.

It is a very strong possibility that the “ship” and the woman of the Utsuro Buro incident were Russian and that this vessal had been deployed from a larger ship.

“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.


It is very well possible that the Russians used this woman to see the mood of the Japanese people:

“The race to be the first to have the prestigious honor of opening Japan to the world was still a Russian dream. Tsar Alexander I of Russia had started a worldwide Russian representation mission under the lead of Adam Johann von Krusenstern (Крузенштерн). With Japan in mind, Nikolai Petrovich Rezanov was appointed to the mission. He was the founder of RussianSiberian trade in fur and the ideal man to convince the Japanese.

In 1804, Rezanov got a chance to exercise his diplomatic strength in Japan. On board the ship Nadezhda, he had many gifts for the Bakufu. He even brought along Japanese fishermen who had been stranded in Russia. But Rezanov could not do what so many had tried before him. An agreement was never reached. During the negotiations, the Shogun remained silent for months; next, the Shogun refused any negotiations and finally gave the Russian gifts back. Now Russia acted more assertively, and soon Russian navigators started to explore and map the coasts of the Kuril Islands. In 1811, the Russian colonel Vasily Golovnin was exploring Kunashir Island on behalf of the Russian Academy of Sciences. During these operations the Russians clashed with the Japanese. Golovnin was seized and taken prisoner by samurai. For the following 18 months, he was a prisoner of the Tokugawa Shogun and intended to learn more about Russian language and culture, the state of the European power struggle, and European science. Through Golownin (and the Dutch), Japan could update its knowledge of nations and the world. Golovnin’s memoirs (Memoirs of Captivity in Japan During the Years 1811,1812, and 1813) illustrate some of the methods used by Tokugawa officials.”

One thing about all of this that may reveal a supernatural origin of the Utsuro Bune incident, are the glyphs, or strange writing that was inscribed upon the ship, of which would also appear in later ufo legends.

Comparison of the Utsuro-bune symbols to those from RAF Bentwaters and Roswell
Comparison of the Utsuro-bune symbols to those from RAF Bentwaters and Roswell


While the glyphs found upon the ship in the Utsuro Bune incident are quite distinct in themselves, they do find a similar pattern with ufo incidents that occurred after the Japanese legend. It is not surprising also that these symbols are very similar to those appear also in the Simon Necronomicon and the Vasuh language, specifically those found  at Roswell.

The meaning of the symbols found on the ship in the Utsuro Bune incident describe a specific kami noted in the  Shinto records that we cannot reveal at this time. However, we do hope that are readers find this information useful, as it has narrowed down the options of this legend to two possibilities. Other information in regard to this legend is revealed only to those who are adepts in the Art of Ninzuwu practice. We wish you all the best in your spiritual endeavors!.

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