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1954, July: The Man from Taured

The Legend:

The Man from Taured
A strange traveler. [Larger version here]

On a hot day in July, 1954, officials at the Tokyo Airport in Japan were confronted with a puzzling problem... a traveler from Europe with a passport for a country called 'Taured.' As the traveler looked European (not Japanese), claimed his country was in Europe, and carried money from several European countries, the airport officials felt that there had to be a simple explanation for why they didn't know the country on the official looking passport; so they pulled the traveler to a room, and started to make inquiries.

        As they tried to locate information on 'Taured,' the traveler started to become angry. He stated this was his third trip this year to Japan for his company, and that he'd been making such trips for the past five years... therefore he couldn't understand what the delay could be with approving his trip. But the company he claimed to be coming to visit said they didn't know who he was... and the officials could find no proof of the existence of the company he claimed to work for. Nor did the hotel he claimed to have reservations with know who he was.

        He could speak Japanese well, among other languages, which was seemingly further proof of his previous contact with Japan. He spoke French natively, and was genuinely shocked that he could not find his country on a world map presented to him. He stated that his country was located where the map showed the Principality of Andorra, along with parts of France and Spain, and that Taured had existed for almost a thousand years... so it should have been on the map! Not surprisingly, he soon demanded to talk to government officials to clear the matter up. Since he couldn't be detained in the airport's room forever, the airport authorities arranged for a room for the man at a nearby hotel that he could wait at while the matter was being handled.

        Two immigration officials were set to guard the room; the unknown traveler was not to leave until authorities had made a decision on the whole problem. He was served dinner in his room, and soon went to sleep; it had been a long, perplexing day for him, after all. Though the door to the room was guarded all night, the strange man was gone when they checked in the morning. The only other exit from the room was a ledgeless window high above a busy street. The traveler was gone, never to be heard from again... which solved the immediate problem for the officials, but left a larger one for the world.

        Who was the man from Taured? Did he come from an alternative dimension, as some have guessed? As many websites pondering this event point out, the initial reports of the matter comes from Colin Wilson's book, The Directory of Possibilities, published well before the internet was a thing; so this is not some mere internet story, but a genuine paranormal mystery that may never be solved.

Possibly Possible?

        While it's true that the strange event of the man from Taured was first published before the internet was a major factor in paranormal myth-making, it's not necessarily true that simply being published before the internet proves the event happened. As a matter of fact, most sites referencing the previous printed existence of the account, in both Wilson's Directory of Possibilities and later in Tom Sleman's Strange but True: Mysterious and Bizarre People, fail to actually state exactly what these two books reported on the matter... so let's clear that up now.

        The Directory of Possibilities was first published in 1981 -- twenty-seven years after the 1954 event would have happened -- and is essentially a collection of short articles on varying claimed types of paranormal events. Though the volume was edited by Colin Wilson, the entry that concerns us here, "Appearing People," was written by Paul Begg, who was well-known at the time for his book Into Thin Air, about mysterious disappearances... so he was a logical person to ask to write about the opposite effect. His statement regarding the incident of the man from Taured is just one sentence long:

"And in 1954 a passport check in Japan is alleged to have produced a man with papers issued by the nation of Taured."

As you can see, it's not the story above. Begg gave no sources for his article.

        Tom Sleman's book Strange but True: Mysterious and Bizarre People was published in 1999. Given the time between the two printings of the story, you might expect that some further information had been acquired; but Sleman covers the story in just one paragraph.

"There have been many reports of visitors from other planets dropping in on Earth. In 1954, the Japanese authorities detained a man trying to enter the country with a passport that revealed he was from an unheard of country named 'Taured.' A thorough check was made by the customs officials to see if there was such a place anywhere on Earth, but they drew a blank. The stranger refused to throw light on the whereabouts of the mysterious nation of Taured and quickly left Japan."

The additional information -- that the stranger offered no helpful information and left -- is hardly any sort of addition at all, and still a long way from the story above. And Sleman, too, gives no source for the story, so the simple suspician is that he got the tale from Wilson's book.

        Which raises the question: if the two earliest references to the man from Taured offer no information per se, then who first published the more detailed story, and where did they get their information from?

Newsworthy

        While many internet sites had repeated the basic story of the man from Taured as laid out by Wilson and Sleman -- in fact, Sleman had published his short paragraph about it on his own webpage as early as 2001 to advertise his book -- the earliest occurrence of the extended version of the story is an April 2012 posting in the Before It's News website, by Terrence Aym... and it's from that posting that I summarized the account above. In presenting the longer account, Aym explained that "parts of the story were related in several books about the weird and strange published during the 1950s," and then implied he had gathered together the details from these accounts to garner the fuller story. He does not, however, name any of these 1950s sources for the story... the only source he actually mentions is an online 2007 posting of Tom Sleman's chapter on appearing people from his Strange but True book which includes the paragraph on the man from Taured.

        This is a problem, of course, because every copy of the story that comes after Aym's article is just a re-telling or expansion on Aym's article; and since Aym doesn't state what his sources were, it implies he made the new story up. This conclusion is likely for another reason as well: I've been unable to track any mention of the incident earlier than Wilson's 1981 Directory of Possibilities... so the only real evidence that the incident might have occurred is the single sentence from that book.

        The Directory of Possibilities, in its 'further readings' section, credits Paul Begg not just for his book on mysterious disappearances, Into Thin Air, but also mentioned he had an upcoming book tentatively called Out of Thin Air: People Who Appear from Nowhere. Obviously, any further reference to the man from Taured could have been found in said volume... except, ironically, the book itself never appeared. Begg went on to write many other books, largely based on true crimes and history, but he never published any books on mysterious appearances. Only Begg would know now if he had a valid source for his brief mention of the Taured incident; but perhaps the fact he never came back to the story is an answer in itself.