Taxi Drivers Say They’ve Picked Up Ghosts of 2011 Tsunami Victims in Japan

February 4, 2016 Updated: July 26, 2017

Taxi drivers in Japan say they’ve picked up ghosts of victims of the 2011 tsunami.

At least seven drivers claim passengers have entered their vehicle only to vanish into thin air before they reach their destination.

One driver described a young woman dressed in a coat climbing into his cab near Ishinomaki Station and telling him: “Please go to the Minamihama (district).”


In response, the driver noted that the area was “almost empty,” and asked her if she was sure she wanted to go there, reported the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

The woman replied in a trembling voice: “Have I died?”

When the driver turned around to look at her, no one was there.

Police officers inspect the destroyed car by the March 11 tsunami waters in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan Tuesday, April 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Police officers inspect a car destroyed by the March 11 tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan on April 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Another driver, in his forties, said a young man climbed into his cab and asked to go to “Hiyoriyama mountain.”

The driver set off, but when he pulled over he realized the passenger had disappeared.

The accounts were compiled by Tohoku Gakuin University sociology student Yuka Kudo for her graduation thesis. She asked more than 100 drivers if they had experienced anything unusual in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami.

According to a Fox summary on the incident:

The seven drivers all started their meters for the “phantom journeys” according to the report. One driver showed Kudo his driver’s report, which noted an unpaid fare.

The magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered massive tsunami waves, devastating parts of the country. More than 18,000 people lost their lives in the disaster.

Psychiatrists have identified “grief hallucinations” as a reaction to bereavement. A study published in 2007 by Agneta Grimby, a researcher at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, surveyed 14 men and 36 women during the first year after the death of a spouse. Post-bereavement hallucinations or illusions were very frequent and even “considered helpful,” according to the research.

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