Nestled among wooded mountains outside Fukushima city lies the small town of Iino.
Home to fewer than 1,900 people, the town breathes silence. Abandoned roads lead to nowhere and some storefronts remain shuttered all year round. A fine layer of dust covers the squat frame of the city’s tourist center.
But in the midst of the eerie stillness, there are tell-tale signs that Iino isn’t just another deserted, earthly town.
Statues of aliens stand proudly all across the town. Its mascot is a small white alien piloting a golden flying saucer that makes random appearances on closed storefronts, local souvenir shops, and the empty town plaza. Unsurprisingly, one of Iino’s most prized dishes is ramen, served in a bowl made of stones rumored to attract extraterrestrial visitors.
Stories of alien sightings and landings of mysterious aircraft have emerged from Iino as far back as the 1970s. Tsugio Kinoshita, a researcher of unidentified flying objects, said he first saw such an UFO in 1972 at the age of 25.
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