In the early 1800s, two folk tales circulated around Japan. Both involved a very strange woman emerging from a very strange ship. Her dress and appearance seemed out of this world. What happened?

There are two versions of this story. One was written in 1825 and one in 1844. In both versions, some Japanese sailors happened to notice, floating in the ocean, a very strange vessel. It was circular, which was not so unusual. What caught there attention was that it seemed to have a lid that covered the top of the ship, and glass windows. When they got it to shore, out came a very beautiful woman holding a very mysterious box. She wouldn't let anyone touch it. They couldn't ask her about it, because she didn't speak their language. All the materials making her ship, her clothes, and her box, were completely unknown to them. Eventually, the woman went back to her boat, and drifted out to sea again.

Well, that's the boring 1844 version. The 1825 version plays out more like an old BBC murder mystery. You can tell, because the woman is more of a vamp. She has bright red hair and eyebrows, and red hair with white extensions. Plus, the box was bigger. The size of the box provided a crafty local with an important clue, and, after consideration, he announced his conclusions. The woman was a foreign princess who had had an illicit love affair. The lover had been beheaded, and the princess was put to sea in a craft, with his head in a box. The villagers, aghast at the hussy in their midst, pushed her and her vessel into the sea again.

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As short as it is, the myth about the strange-looking vessel made with foreign materials has become an enduring favorite of ufologists. They believe that, possibly, a flying saucer crashed in the sea, and washed up on land. Possibly aliens were trying to blend in by matching our technology, sending flying saucers when we could fly and sailing saucers when all we could do was sail. When people argue, the ufo believes point to the unnatural substances of the woman's clothes and ship. They argue that, although people weren't as savvy in those days as we are today, they people in the legend were hardly yokels. They would have recognized most kinds of materials and most kinds of vessels. This utterly foreign being might have been crash-landed, or might have been on a scouting ship.

What do you think?

[Via The History of Utsuro Bune, Tales of Castaways.]