Japanese Taxi Drivers report mysterious encounters with ‘Ghost Passengers’

The tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 became one of the biggest natural disasters in the world with a claimed up to 19,000 people were killed and hundreds seriously injured by a physical disability.

After the disaster reports of strange and unexplained events began to increase in the affected areas.

Taxi drivers in Ishinomaki, north-east Japan, have reported experiencing mysterious encounters in the wake of the devastating 2011 tsunami and earthquake.

They have pulled over to pick up a passenger, started the meter and asked for an address, but while driving to the destination, the passenger had suddenly disappeared.

According to news site ajw.asahi a taxi driver working in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, which had been devastated by the tsunami a few months earlier, had a mysterious encounter.

A woman who was wearing a coat climbed in his cab near Ishinomaki Station. The woman directed him, “Please go to the Minamihama (district).” The driver asked her, “The area is almost empty. Is it OK?” Then, the woman said in a shivering voice, “Have I died?”

Surprised at the question, the driver looked back at the rear seat. No one was there.

This incident is not only experienced by one taxi driver, another taxi driver told of an unexplainable occurrence.

According to this driver, a man who looked to be in his 20’s got in his taxi. When the driver looked into the rear-view mirror, his passenger was pointing toward the front.

The driver repeatedly asked the man for his destination. Then, the passenger replied, “Hiyoriyama" (mountain). When the taxi arrived there, however, the man had disappeared.

Yuka Kudo, a Tohoku Gakuin University senior majoring in sociology interviewed and asked more than 100 taxi drivers “Did you have any unusual experiences after the disaster?” and despite many ignored her, seven drivers recounted their mysterious experiences to her.

The seven drivers' accounts cannot be easily dismissed as simple illusions. That is because if a passenger climbed in their taxi, the driver started the meter, which is recorded.

As the "ghosts" the drivers encountered were all youthful, it is believed they could be the spirits of victims of the 2011 disaster.

What impressed Kudo was that the drivers did not have any fear toward their ghost passengers, but held them in reverence. They regarded the encounters as important experiences to be cherished.

While it may be easy to dismiss these incidents off as ghost stories, psychiatrists have identified “grief hallucinations” as a fairly common reaction to bereavement, and NYU neurologist Oliver Sacks noted that hallucinations can help people cope with loss.