The story broke first on the radio. The evening papers carried more detailed accounts. The headlines in one newspaper read as follows:
Flying Saucer Lands on Mount Tanzawa!
Winged Alien Appears from Spacecraft!
Firsthand Account of Lumberjack Iwao Matsushita!
According to the reports, a glimmering silver saucer twenty feet in diameter landed in the midst of a large forest in Kanagawa prefecture. Situated between Mount Tanzawa and the Togamine Highlands, it was a wilderness that experienced woodsmen rarely ventured into. But that day, a mile away, a lumberjack by the name of Iwao Matsushita was finishing up work.
Startled by a sound loud enough to shake the heavens, he cautiously approached the area. There he chanced across a large silver object like nothing he’d seen before. The monstrous object was shaped like one dinner plate flipped around and joined to another. It had mowed down a grove of large trees and now perched on top of them.
Encountering this fearsome thing, that he could not have imagined in his wildest dreams, the lumberjack admitted to being on the verge of panic, about to flee for his life. But he reconsidered. Retreating to a safe distance, he hid behind a big tree and watched to see what would happen next.
The photograph of the lumberjack printed in the evening editions made the most of his features. A man in his forties sporting thick stubble on his face, with big eyes, a large nose and mouth, he appeared every inch a bold and brawny man. That he should be so thrown for a loop made the incident all the more shocking.
The sun was setting. Though the night fell quickly in the heart of the mountains, the silver craft glowed in its own light. Matsushita-san said he could dimly make out the surrounding area.
He kept watch and bided his time. For a long while, nothing happened. And then from a location he couldn’t pin down came the faint humming sound of machinery in motion. Despite deep feelings of unease, Matsushita-san’s curiosity got the better of him. He stayed put and kept his eyes peeled.
Ever so slightly, the big saucer began to move. At first, he couldn’t discern the source of the motion. As noted earlier, the lumberjack described the flying saucer like two dinner plates joined together. Now the plates split apart like a clamshell. Little by little, ever so slowly, the top plate yawned open.
The being inside must be lifting it up. No, that was unlikely. No human being could raise a metal plate twenty feet in diameter. Some sort of mechanical linkage was raising the lid. That humming sound must be coming from the motors.
One inch, two inches, and then three—moving so slowly it was hard to tell whether the heavy metal lid was even budging—except it definitely was moving.
The opening reached a foot wide. Through the gap, Matsushita-san could see a dark shadow moving about inside. In the dim light he couldn’t make it out, but whatever it was, it was alive. And it clearly belonged to the animal kingdom. The creature peered out through the gap.
The lumberjack described it as a strange and nasty-looking thing indeed. It had what appeared to be two eyes but not human eyes. Not the eyes of a monkey or a fox or a wolf either. The closest comparison the woodsman could think of were the eyes of a big snake he’d once encountered in the mountains.
In the darkness, he couldn’t make out much else. But he’d seen enough to scare him. Now was a good time to beat a fast retreat. Except he went nowhere. As if fixed in the eyes of a monstrous Medusa, he couldn’t move his legs.
A few moments later, the lid of the flying saucer had opened to a height of two feet. The creature inside bent over and jumped out.
The burly lumberjack was so startled he admitted to practically swooning.
A winged lizard emerged from the spacecraft. Its face resembled that of a bird with ominously glowing reptile eyes. It had arms and legs and stood and walked like a human, but its overall form really was that of a large lizard. Its face and body were purple and green. Attached to its back were big wings like those of a bat.
The creature emerged from the flying saucer, stood upright on the ground, and scanned the surroundings with its snake-like eyes. Then it unfurled its big wings and with several whooshing flaps soared into the sky.
Though standing twenty yards away, the gust of air raised by those wings struck the lumberjack like a whirlwind. Rooted there like a stone, he came back to his senses when hit by the battering blast. He retreated at a full sprint, without a backward glance.
The story spilled out of the lumberjack as soon as he reached the village at the foot of the mountain, raising a ruckus and throwing the community into a turmoil.
The village police contacted their regional headquarters, who contacted the National Police Agency. A squad of law enforcement officers soon arrived. Not far behind them came a horde of reporters and photojournalists. Local youth associations and firefighters got roped into the dragnet as well.
With the lumberjack leading the way, the whole lot of them set off for the place where the flying saucer had landed.
At that point, the articles in the evening editions ended. The search teams were venturing into the mountains. Any results would not emerge until well after the papers went to press.
The newspaper articles caused a stir all over Japan, especially in Tokyo, whose citizens had witnessed the flying saucers with their own eyes. Overnight, the flying saucers and the lizard man became the talk of the town.
And yet disappointment only awaited those who turned on their radios and picked up newspapers the next day. The big silver saucer had completely disappeared.
The lumberjack remembered exactly where he’d seen it. The fallen trees and crushed undergrowth remained where it set down. But the flying saucer had hidden itself away someplace else. The search teams went over the area with a fine-tooth comb and turned up nothing even vaguely resembling it.
After the lumberjack bolted for safety, the flying saucer must have once again taken to the skies. Perhaps it returned to its home star. Or was prowling the inner reaches of the solar system not far from Earth.
The newspapers came to similar conclusions.
But the mutant cross of a bat and a lizard that emerged from the flying saucer was another matter. It might have returned later and left the Earth in the flying saucer. Or perhaps it stayed behind after the flying saucer took off, and carried by its bat wings, was even now infiltrating the outskirts of Tokyo.
The speculations hardly ended there. There was far more to worry about. The lumberjack spied a single creature inside the flying saucer. But two or three more could have emerged after he fled and flown off to various parts of Japan, where they were hiding out of sight.
Five flying saucers had appeared in the skies over Tokyo. What of the other four? If four spacecraft landed in Japan, each one carrying who knew how many creatures inside them, there might be dozens of the creatures all across Japan. Able to take to the air with their bat-like wings, they could cruise at high altitude through the night sky without anyone knowing where they were going.
The prospects were unnerving, to say the least.
For some time after that, people throughout Japan jumped at the otherwise ordinary sight of a black kite or big crow gliding through the air, thinking at first glance it was a creature from outer space.