Here is another local attraction that is not listed in most foreign guidebooks on Japan.
Just west of Fukushima City, in the village of Iino, is “UFO no Sato,” the number one spot in Japan for UFO sightings. “UFO no Sato” is located on the side of a small cone-shaped mountain called Senganmori.
According to an article in Mainichi Daily News, the story of “UFO no Sato” began in May 1972, when a group of hikers saw a “silver, helmet-shaped object” hovering above the mountain’s peak. The hikers formed an organization called the “Fukushima UFO Information Center” and started collecting reports of UFO sightings. The article says, “Of the 180 reports they have collected so far, about 40 of the sightings have taken place in the vicinity of Senganmori.” (Mainichi Daily News, May 7, 1997). Copies of the article, in English and Japanese, were available for free during my first visit there, but I didn’t see any during my last visit.
The UFO museum opened in 1992. Today, in addition to the museum, there is a restaurant and gift shop, a playground, a hiking path leading to an observation tower at the top of the mountain, and tennis courts. (There is also a Shinto shrine, which is several hundred years old and was there long before the place became famous for UFOs.) On the second floor of the museum is a public bath and a couple lounges/meeting rooms. Admission to the museum is 400 yen for adults, 200 yen for children. The museum and gift shop are closed on Mondays.
I have been here five times so far but unfortunately, I haven’t seen any UFOs or aliens. However, one of my English students said that he saw a UFO once when he was here at night.
When were these pictures taken?
Looking at these photos, you will notice that they were taken at different times of the year. The photos are from a cloudy day in November 2015, a sunny day in June 2015, a misty day in May 2014, and a party-cloudy day in November 2009. Can you guess which ones were taken in which month?
The museum is in this UFO-shaped building.
The rooms upstairs also have a UFO theme. The curtains give the windows a UFO-like shape, and the tatami mats have UFOs around the edges. There is also a big picture of a proposed expressway between Iino and the moon.
Below is the restaurant and gift shop.
Next to the gift shop is this small playground, designed with a UFO/alien theme. It has a great view of the surrounding countryside. It’s a perfect place from which to scan the skies for flying saucers.
While the children are playing, their parents can sit and relax at these benches and picnic tables.
The hiking path begins next to this shrine. As far as I know, the shrine has nothing to do with UFOs or aliens. The present version was founded in the 1600s with the support of Masamune Date. However, its actual history goes back further than that. At one time, people came to pray for good fertility – that they would have lots of children and grandchildren. One of the small buildings behind the shrine is full of wooden sculptures and carvings. They all have a certain, uh, “male anatomy” theme.
How long has this Pepsi machine been here?
UFO hiking path going to the top of the mountain. It takes about 20 minutes to walk from the parking lot up to the top. Along the path are statues of aliens, like these.
There is an observation deck at the top of the mountain.
Next to the observation deck is this arrangement of concrete objects and metal balls. Perhaps to focus energy and act as a signal to welcome any aliens who happen to be flying overhead?
View from the top.
This is a public toilet. It was at the edge of the parking lot during my first visit in November 2009. But the next time I came here, it was gone. What happened to it? Was it damaged during the earthquake in 2011?
Finally, here is a view of the mountain from the nearby town of Kawamata.
That concludes our tour of the UFO mountain. In addition to “UFO no Sato,” this area also has some strange-shaped rocks which are the subject of local legends, and artifacts left by prehistoric people. Most of them are located along “lines of power” which radiate out in all directions from the mountain. I haven’t seen very many of them yet, but they are on my list of places to visit.