If you’ve ever wanted to experience a ghost encounter, Japan may be the place to visit!
After the devastating 2011 tsunami that shook the coastal town of Ishinomaki, multiple taxi drivers from the area have claimed to have picked up ghost travelers.
In all cases, ghost passengers entered the taxi, asked to be brought to their destination, and then disappeared, leaving their fare unpaid.
Their stories were discovered and collected by Yuka Kudo, a 22-year-old sociology major at Tohoku Gakuin University, who compiled the paranormal encounters for her graduate thesis.
Kudo, who lived in a nearby prefecture that wasn’t impacted by the tsunami, traveled every week in her junior year to Ishinomaki. She hopped into waiting cabs and asked the drivers, “Did you have any unusual experiences after the disaster?”
Most of the 100 drivers she asked ignored her question, some got angry, but seven talked of ghost passengers they picked up shortly after the tsunami.
One driver told Kudo he picked up a woman in a coat during the early summer, several months after the tsunami. “Please go to Minamihama,” the woman said.
He told her the area was empty—that it had been devastated by the tsunami. Then, she asked in a shaking voice, “Have I died?”
The question was enough to make the driver turn his head and look towards the back seat, but no one was there.
Another driver spoke of a man possibly in his 20s, who climbed into his cab. The young man pointed forward, and when the driver asked the man for his destination, the ghost passenger said “Hiyoriyama.” When they arrived, the man vanished.
While these stories could be nothing more than the wild imagination of a limited few, Kudo makes an interesting point that weakens this view.
All of the drivers had started the meters once the riders had allegedly entered their cab, believing the passengers to be alive.
Given the meters were recorded, when the ghost passengers disappeared, the drivers had to pay their fares. Some of the seven who spoke to Kudo had recorded their experiences in their logs, with a few even getting a police report to prove their unpaid fare.
Interestingly, none of the drivers were scared of their ghost passengers, but revered them, considering the interaction as an important gift.
In many of the impacted coastal towns of Japan, where more than 15,893 people died as a result of the magnitude-9 earthquake, and a further 2,572 people still listed as missing, many locals and tourists alike have reported similar ghost encounters.
Many survivors have seen ghosts wandering around where homes used to be or lining up outside shops that have long since been razed.
For the taxi drivers of Ishinomaki, none of the ghost reports are unheard of. “It’s not strange to see a ghost here. They’re everywhere, and if I encounter a ghost again, I will accept them as my passenger.”