The small rural community of Iinomachi in northeastern Japan has been making a name for itself as a hotspot for UFO sightings. The town is using its extraterrestrial reputation to boost its local economy and attract visitors interested in the unknown. Once a prosperous town known for its silk production and weaving industries, Iinomachi is now struggling with a dwindling population of only 5,000 people.
According to some local residents, the Senganmori mountain, which is a conical structure that dominates the area, is a suspected UFO hotspot due to the number of sightings of luminous objects in the area over the past four decades.
To capitalize on their reputation as a UFO hot spot, Iinomachi has created numerous UFO-themed attractions. Visitors to the town are greeted with UFO-shaped streetlights, bus stops, flags, and even an alien statue. The town’s “UFO Fureaikan” museum, located halfway up the mountain, has been open since 1992 and displays around 3,000 books, photos, and other resources related to aliens and UFOs, some of which were donated by the late UFO researcher Kinichi Arai. Around 30,000 people from in and out of the prefecture visit the museum annually.
In 2021, the International UFO Lab was established in Iinomachi on June 24, which is designated as World UFO Day. The lab collects and disseminates UFO sighting reports to its members around the world. Any UFO believer can become a member of the organization by paying a one-year membership fee of 10,000 yen ($74). Elite members, those who sign on for three years at 20,000 yen or 30,000 yen, are entitled to special T-shirts and locally brewed sake, and all members can attend UFO-related events.
In response, the town organized its first UFO festival in December last year. It was held to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the UFO museum. During the event, participants dressed up as extraterrestrials for a parade and a contest. After retiring from his job as a chemical manufacturer, Tetsu Konno decided to join the IUFO Lab, a non-profit organization based in Fukushima.
After the local government selected him to help revitalize the area, he said goodbye to his family and moved to Osaka Prefecture.
Through the use of extraterrestrial resources, the town hopes to breathe new life into the area by attracting more visitors and residents. It also aims to educate the public about the possibility of alien life. Despite the recent geopolitical tensions caused by the reported sightings of airborne objects, a municipal official in Fukushima said the government is still focused on finding out more about the nature of life in the universe.
The town of Iinomachi has become known for its extraterrestrial reputation. Its various attractions and strange sightings have attracted a wide range of visitors.
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