Alien & UFOAncient History

Utsuro-bune: The Legend Of The Hollow Ship

The Utsuro-bune or the hollow ship refer to an unknown object which allegedly washed ashore in 1803 in Hitachi province on the eastern coast of Japan.  The tale has been told in three texts; Toen shōsetsu(1825) , Hyōryū kishū(1835) and Ume-no-chiri (1844). The book Toen shōsetsu contains the most detailed version.


According to legend an attractive woman arrived to the coast of Japan aboard the Hollow Ship. This woman was unlike the other women in the region. Local fisherman accompanied this strange-looking female inland, but they were unable to establish communication since this visitor could not communicate in Japanese.

This historical event  took place on February 22, 1803 when the round looking object, which according to texts was made of iron and glass, floated ashore. The object was unlike any other ships in the region, and according to history, at the time this “ship” washed ashore- there were no round ships in Japan. This “hollow ship” had very strange symbols on its metallic surface which the locals did not manage to decipher. According to the Ume-no-chiri , the ship reminded the witnesses of a rice cooking pot, around its middle it had a thickened rim. It was also coated with black paint and it had four little windows on four sides. The windows had bars and they were clogged with tree resin. The lower part of the boat was protected by brazen plates which looked to be made of iron of the highest western quality.

The female visitor was not very tall, according to ancient texts, 1.5 meters, she had very pale skin and was dressed in a very strange way, the woman seemed very polite and had fiery red hair with red eyebrows. In her hands she held a box that was 60 cm in length.

There were two books published early that speak about this strange incident. One book is called Toen Shousetsu, published in 1825 and the other book is Ume no Chiri, published in 1844.The stories that were told in the books are considered to be based on old tabloid-like newspapers that are commonly called kawara-ban, while there are also many stories that originate from local folklore.

One of the most mysterious and interesting aspects of this legend revolves around the box that the female visitor held in her hands. A rectangular shaped box was made out of material unlike anything found in Japan. The female visitor did not allow anyone to touch the box so we can assume that it was extremely important to the visitor, but the exact purpose of the box is till unknown.

Ink drawing of the Utsuro-bune by Kyokutei Bakin (1825).

Ink drawing of the Utsuro-bune by Kyokutei Bakin (1825).