Following the Japanese tsunami, multiple taxi drivers have reported ghost passengers
“Have I died?”
Following the 2011 tsunami that devastated the Tōhoku region of Japan and killed nearly 16,000, people began to report some strange, even ghostly things.
Shortly after the disaster, one cab driver picked up a passenger who said simply, “Please go to the Minamihama (district).” There was nothing specifically unusual about the passenger, a woman wearing a normal coat.
The 50-year old driver prepared to begin the journey, but first he said, “The area is almost empty. Is it ok?”
In a shaky voice, the woman then asked “Have I died?” The surprised driver looked back, but the woman had vanished.
This might seem like the stuff of urban legends, but it is one of several such stories taken from cab drivers in the region following the disaster.
As part of a sociology graduate report, a Tōhoku Gakuin University senior named Yuka Kudo decided to investigate the phenomenon of “ghost passengers” that had begun to gain popularity. She began by reaching out to over 100 cab drivers in the area, asking them “Did you have any unusual experiences after the disaster?” Some reported nothing unusual, some ignored her, a few grew angry at the questioning. Seven, however, reported strange experiences that can’t be easily explained.
To be fair, that area is haunting enough on its own. Major sections are still abandoned, and even now there remains unmistakable evidence of the massive damage the region endured. Even so, seven-percent of the drivers polled recounted some unexplained experiences.
Many of the stories are similar to the driver’s with the young woman.
One man claimed to have picked up a 20-something man that asked to be taken to Hiyoriyama mountain. When they arrived, the man was gone without a trace.
While Kuda isn’t convinced that these ghosts are comprehensive evidence of the paranormal, she can’t dismiss it either. She also has a theory as to why the ghosts – if they are ghosts – are all young, and why they choose taxis.
“Young people feel strongly chagrined (at their deaths) when they cannot meet people they love. As they want to convey their bitterness, they may have chosen taxis, which are like private rooms, as a medium to do so,” Kudo said.
To add some credence to the taxi drivers’ stories, in each instance of a ghostly passenger, the drivers recorded the fare but didn’t collect. That meant the driver was responsible to pay that fare, and in several instances, they were able to show Kuda when and where the ride occurred, and the note that no one paid.
If the drivers are making up these stories, it is a fairly expensive tale.
Another common thread linking these ghost passengers is that the drivers report not being frightened, but instead feeling sorrow and even reverence. They all saw the experiences as something important that should be cherished. A few of them also said that if they ever had the occasion to pick up a ghost rider, they would accept it as a passenger.