The 13th Floor

‘Ghost Ships’ Carrying Human Remains Are Drifting Into Japan

In one of the most chilling, unexplained stories to hit the news lately, several unmanned wooden fishing boats have been appearing off the northwestern coast of Japan, several of which contain decayed human bodies.

According to Associated Press reporter Mari Yamaguchi, Japanese authorities are investigating the arrival of nearly a dozen such boats in the past month, in areas including the Noto peninsula, off the coast of Ishikawa. At least three of the heavily-damaged vessels have contained corpses in such advanced states of decomposition that the cause of death has been very difficult to identify.

Image Credit: iStock/Shaun Lowe
Image Credit: iStock/Shaun Lowe

Yamaguchi points out that this is hardly a new phenomenon: apparently small wooden fishing boats like these are found drifting near Japan on a regular basis, and many of them are thought to have come from food-deprived North Korea, possibly entering Japanese waters to increase their catch, while others may have carried refugees defecting to South Korea.

Mystery boats like these are actually a common occurrence in Japan, dating back centuries and inspiring folklore across many generations of fishing communities throughout Japan.