June 21, 2024

Local residents in Yamanashi Prefecture, at the foot of Mt. Fuji, are striving to make their city Kofu a tourist magnet with extraterrestrial help from an alien.

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of an incident in which two elementary school children claimed to have encountered unidentified flying objects and an alien. It is dubbed one of “three major UFO incidents” reported in Japan.

Radio personality Kiichi Tokutake is among a group of people organizing events to celebrate the anniversary and boost the city’s appeal. “I want to make Kofu a mecca for UFO enthusiasts,” he said.

A person dressed as the “Kofu alien” (C) strikes a pose at an event on Feb. 23, 2024, in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture, known for an alleged UFO sighting in 1975. (Kyodo)

Tokutake’s passion grew after he was told by a guest during his show that the UFO sighting in Kofu had recently grabbed attention among some overseas enthusiasts.

The alleged incident dates back to Feb. 23, 1975, when two boys playing near a vineyard in Kofu saw what they described as two saucer-shaped UFOs flashing in orange at around 6:30 p.m. They said a 120- to 130-centimeter tall alien with a big head, long ears and three fangs then descended, according to Tokutake. The alien reportedly had a brown face with no eyes or nose.

The boys left the scene to call their family. When they returned, the objects started blinking and glared briefly before disappearing. Their family and local residents provided similar descriptions.

Feb. 23 is now registered as Kofu UFO Day by the Japan Anniversary Association, an organization that registers anniversaries for companies, groups and individuals.

“It scared the life out of me back then,” Katsuhiro Yamahata, who was one of the two boys, recalled at a February event marking the 49th year since the sighting.

Local organizers are planning to erect a monument at the site. “My hope is visitors interested in the UFO (incident) will take a liking to the city of Kofu and its people,” Tokutake said.

The other two sightings were reported in Kochi Prefecture in 1972 and in the country’s northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido in 1974.

Other places seeking to draw visitors with the stories of alleged UFO sightings include Hakui of Ishikawa Prefecture, central Japan, and the Iinomachi area in Fukushima in the country’s northeast.

In the United States, known for UFO-related incidents like one in Roswell, a Department of Defense report released in March concluded that there was “no evidence” that UFO sightings for decades represented “extraterrestrial technology.”

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