Ghost passengers in Japan

Ghost Passengers In Japan: Cab Drivers In Region Devastated By 2011 Tsunami Report Picking Up Spirits Of Victims

“Ghost passengers” have reportedly been turning up in taxis in the Japan region where an earthquake and tsunami devastated the area and left thousands of people dead, Fox News reports.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake struck the coast of the Sendai region of Japan (about 250 miles northeast of Tokyo). The earthquake, and resulting tsunami, devastated the region — Ishinomaki (population: 145,000) in particular — and left over 18,000 people dead.

ghost passengers in japan
2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami damage. [Image courtesy of U.S, Navy via Wikimedia Commons by Public Domain]
Life, however, goes on. Farmers have replanted their fields. Workers have gone back to their jobs. And cab drivers have gone back to their cabs.

As it turns out, however, it seems that some of the victims of the earthquake and tsunami have lingered behind, and have turned up as passengers in cabs. They stay long enough to confuse and terrify the driver, then disappear (and skip out on the fare).

Tohoku Gakuin University sociology researcher Yuka Kudo interviewed over 100 Ishinomaki cab drivers, asking if they had any “unusual” experiences after the earthquake and tsunami. Most of her interview subjects got angry and refused to talk. But seven cab drivers did speak, and what they told her was downright creepy.

One driver, in his 40s, reported picking up a ghost passenger, a man in his 20s. When the cabbie asked his passenger his destination, the man would only point forward and say “Mount Hiyoriyama.” Once they arrived at the destination, the cabbie said his passenger had disappeared.

Another cabbie, in his 50s, said he picked up a woman near a train station, who asked to be taken to a part of town still in ruins from the tsunami. “The area is almost empty. Is it OK?” he asked her. Shivering, she responded, “Have I died?” When he turned to speak to her, she was gone.

Kudo tells Japanese newspaper Asahi Shinbun that the ghost passengers, who all took the guise of young adults, are victims of the tsunami who never got the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones.

“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.”

For the cab drivers, having a ghost passenger is more of an honor than a terrifying encounter. Like all of the people in the tsunami-devastated region, the pain of loss from the disaster still lingers, and if having a ghost passenger in a cab helps the drivers deal with that pain, then they’re glad for the experience, said one driver.

“It is not strange to see a ghost (here). If I encounter a ghost again, I will accept it as my passenger.”

Ghost passengers in cabs aren’t the only paranormal entities reported in the Sendai area since the 2011 tsunami. In fact, the area has become a hotbed for ghost-sightings, with several videos showing up on YouTube purporting to show ghosts or other unexplained paranormal phenomena.

Ghost passengers turning up in cars aren’t limited to Japan; in fact, the “Vanishing Hitchhiker” has been a part of paranormal lore since the days of horses and buggies. One stretch of road in suburban Chicago is the abode of the famed “Resurrection Mary.” For decades, drivers have reported picking up a hitchhiker — a woman, in formal attire — who disappears when they approach a nearby cemetery.

Despite the hair-raising narrative of the ghost passenger stories, it turns out that there’s probably a far more mundane explanation for the experiences of the cabbies in the tsunami-devastated region. Psychiatrists have identified a form of delusion, called a “grief hallucination,” that causes a grieving person to think they see a lost loved one.

Do you believe “ghost passengers” are really turning up in cabs in Japan, or are the drivers suffering from hallucinations relating to their grief? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

[Image via Shutterstock/Pabkov]