Say “I’m an alien” when you check in to get cheaper rates!

Recently, an intriguing new Instagram account was created called @alien_u_oita, and the owner of the account posted these mysterious pictures a few days ago.

Could this be the picture all UFO believers have been hoping for? Could this be a picture of an alien disembarking from a spaceship, surrounded by smoke?

Well, not quite. The photo was taken in Beppu, a city in Japan’s hot spring capital Oita Prefecture, and the smoke surrounding the mysterious alien figure is actually geothermal steam from the hot springs dotted around the city. It seems this alien may have visited Oita to enjoy its hot springs, as video footage has been ‘discovered’ of the space visitor washing off in the shower area.

While we are amiss to spoil anyone’s dreams of finally meeting a real life alien from outer space, eagle-eyed readers may have spotted that the ‘alien’ appears to be a mascot character, and their Instagram account is full of pictures of the ‘alien’ enjoying the sights Oita Prefecture has to offer.

▼ The alien at Harajiri Falls, known as the ‘ Niagara Falls of Japan’

The extraterrestrial mascot is part of a campaign by Oita to ‘welcome aliens’ to their prefecture, as Oita Airport will become the first horizontal space port to open in Asia. A horizontal space sport lets rockets and satellites launch horizontally into space instead of vertically, and in a partnership with US company Virgin Orbit, Oita Airport plans to make their first launch in early 2022.

Some people proposed that, as a result of the launch of the space port, Oita Prefecture might receive some extra terrestrial tourists with it. So as a friendly peace-offering to any potential new alien overlords, forty-five hotels in Oita Prefecture are offering discounts and special services to any guests claiming to be from outer space. Upon checking in, if you tell the lobby staff ‘uchujin desu’ (“I’m an alien“), you can receive discounts of up to 10,000 yen (US$87), although the services available vary from hotel to hotel. 

▼ Oita’s specialty dish toriten (tempura-style fried chicken) can be enjoyed by aliens and humans alike.

As well as offering cheap rates to any extra terrestrial guests, local business throughout the prefecture are adjusting their practices to accommodate any potential new alien customers. An ‘Alien Tourism Promotion Committee‘ was established earlier this year, with a representative claiming “We are proud to say that we are the first prefecture on earth to welcome aliens”. There is also a course at Oita University called ‘How to run a business that can take over the Earth’, and a local shop is selling ‘kojin manju’, sweet snacks that that they claim aliens can turn into humans by eating.

The full list of hotels offering discounts is available on the Uchu no Onsen Ken (‘Space Hot Spring Prefecture’) official website, so be sure to practice your best alien voice to enjoy some out-of-this-world service. 

Fingers crossed any alien guests get a warmer welcome in Oita than they did when they attended this baseball game, though.

Source: Uchu no Onsen Ken official website via Asahi News
Image: YouTube@おんせん県おおいた公式(大分県広報広聴課)
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