In 1954, a man allegedly arrived at Haneda Airport in Tokyo with a passport from Taured — a country that doesn’t exist. Was he a traveler from another dimension, or just a small-time fraudster trying to sneak into the country?
On a hot summer day in July 1954, a man arrived at Haneda Airport in Tokyo. For all intents and purposes, he was perfectly unremarkable: Caucasian, bearded, wearing a suit. He may have spoken French. He knew a fair bit of Japanese. Nothing out of the ordinary — that is until the man handed over his passport.
The passport was seemingly legitimate, but with one oddity: it was issued in the country of Taured. As far as the immigration officers at Haneda Airport were aware, Taured was not a country that existed anywhere on Earth.
When they confronted the man about the falsehood, however, he grew frustrated. He insisted to them that Taured did exist and had for nearly 1,000 years.
Believing this strange man may have been a criminal, Japanese officers put him up at a nearby hotel for the night while they conducted a more thorough investigation. Two guards were stationed outside the man’s room to make sure he did not escape, yet when the next morning came, and officers went to speak with the man, they were shocked to find that he had vanished without a trace.
Or so the story goes.
To some, the story of the Taured Man, as he came to be known, serves as evidence that there are indeed universes parallel to our own, as the man himself may have accidentally slipped into our dimension — one where Taured never existed. Others have suggested the entire story is nothing more than fiction. The truth, however, lies somewhere in the middle.
The Parallel Universe Theory
There are several components to the story of the Man from Taured that have led some curious-minded people over the years to the conclusion that he hailed from another dimension. The first is the country of Taured itself.
When presented with a map and asked to point out the country, the man is said to have pointed to Andorra, between Spain and France, as he quickly became angry and confused. Why was his home country of Taured not listed on this map? This was where it should be — and where it had been for 1,000 years.
The man is also said to have had currency from several European countries on his person and stamps from numerous airports around the globe. He had even visited Tokyo on several previous occasions.
Yet, the company he claimed to work for had never heard of him, nor had the hotel he allegedly had a reservation at or the company officials in Tokyo he was supposed to be meeting with.
Despite this, the man supposedly had various documents that supported his story.
Then, of course, was the man’s disappearance from his hotel room. The room was several floors up and lacked a balcony. The police reportedly even determined that the man could not have escaped via the windows, and the guards never saw the man leave.
In combination, these circumstances have led many to the conclusion that the man had accidentally crossed into our dimension from a parallel one. In this parallel universe, they say, Taured really did exist, and the man was telling the truth. His disappearance is often attributed to him sliding back into his own universe, again seemingly without any intention or explanation.
It’s an incredibly interesting story — unbelievably so, some might argue.
John Allen Zegrus — The Real Mystery Man From Taured
According to Snopes, a real-life incident inspired the story of the man from Taured, but it is “a greatly embellished and fantastical version of the far less sensational real story.”
As exciting as the idea of a visitor from another dimension can be, the unfortunate reality is that the “Taured Man” was nothing more than a simple fraudster. There is a considerable amount of evidence to suggest that the true identity of the man from Taured was John Allen Zegrus, who was arrested in Tokyo in 1960 for trying to cash phony checks after using a false passport to get into the country.
On July 29, 1960, a debate in the British House of Commons referred to the case of John Allen Zegrus, who it was said described “himself as an intelligence agent for Colonel Nasser and a naturalized Ethiopian. This man, according to the evidence, has travelled all over the world with a very impressive looking passport indeed. It is written in a language unknown and it has remained un-identified although it has been studied for a long time by philologists.”
The House member continued, describing Zegrus’ passport as seemingly issued in the city of Tamanrosset, the capital of the State of Taured, which Zegrus claimed was an independent state of roughly two million people south of the Sahara.
The debate aimed to illustrate how easily passports could be forged.
The Vancouver-based paperThe Province also reported on Zegrus at the time, writing, “Mr. Zegrus wanted to travel round the world. To impress officials, he invented a nation, a capital, a people and a language. All these he recorded on a passport which he made himself.”
According to the report, Zegrus was able to travel all across the world successfully, using this fake passport, particularly across regions of the Middle East. When people doubted his documentation, he invited them to read a small proclamation stamped beneath the national symbol of Taured, which read: “Rch ubwaii ochtra negussi habessi trwap turapa.”
This saying means nothing in any language.
It wasn’t until Zegrus tried to visit Tokyo that his passport was finally thoroughly scrutinized, and his story didn’t hold up. Japanese officials studied maps, saw that there was no State of Taured, and began taking steps to prosecute Zegrus. The Province referred to Zegrus as “a martyr to Japanese thoroughness.”
What Happened To John Allen Zegrus?
Reddit user taraiochi posted several Japanese newspaper articles from the summer of 1960 to the winter of 1961 that covered the Taured Man case, which offer even more insight into the truth behind this legend.
According to the reports, Zegrus attempted suicide shortly after being sentenced to one year of imprisonment by the Tokyo District Court on charges of illegal entry and fraud.
When he was informed of his sentencing, he reportedly shouted, “I’m going to kill myself,” and slashed his arms with pieces of a broken glass bottle he had kept hidden.
Zegrus had entered Japan using his fake passport in October 1959 with his Korean wife, but while in the country, he struggled to pay for his stay. He cashed out roughly ¥200,000 ($1,406) worth of counterfeit checks at various Tokyo banks and also claimed to be both from the CIA and the FBI, working in Japan on orders from an “Arab-related organization.”
Papers also noted that Zegrus’ passport “was the size of a weekly magazine and was recognizable at a glance as a fake.”
Perhaps the most surprising component of Zegrus’ story, however, is that he never actually spent any time in prison. By the time all was said and done, the number of days he’d already spent in detention outweighed his sentence, and so he was released on time served.
Ultimately, Zegrus said he would leave Japan to start a “new life in a new country.” No one ever learned where he really came from or who he really was. After he left Japan, his name never reappeared in any significant historical way.
As John Allen Zegrus faded into obscurity, his story did the opposite. It traveled across the world, transforming from the tale of a fraudster traveling across the world into the urban legend of the man from Taured, an extra-dimensional human existing in our universe for but a brief moment before disappearing, as if he had never been here at all.