Ishinomaki, Japan taxi drivers say that they’re picking up “ghost passengers” of the 2011 tsunami

Each account is eerily similar to the next. An Ishinomaki, Japan taxi driver picks up a passenger. When the taxi driver starts the meter and asks the passenger for the destination, the passenger gives a strange response. When the driver turns around to speak to the passenger, the passenger has vanished.Ishinomaki is no ordinary Japanese city. It was here in 2011 that the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami did their most devastating damage. More than 3,000 Ishinomaki residents lost their lives on that day.At least seven different Ishinomaki taxi drivers say that they have picked up these strange passengers. These taxi drivers are convinced that they are ghosts of people who were lost in the disaster. Ishinomaki taxi drivers have given a name to this eerie phenomenon: “phantom fare.”

One taxi driver, who spoke to Tohoku Gakuin University sociologist Yuka Kodu, experienced a “phantom fare” just months after the tsunami. The taxi driver said a young woman got into his cab in town and told him “please go to the Minamihama District.” The taxi driver replied to her that the area was “almost empty” and asked why she would want to go there.In a trembling voice, the young woman then said, “Have I died?” When the driver turned around, he saw that the woman had vanished.Ishinomaki taxi drivers say that the “ghost passengers” most often are young people.

“Young people feel strong chagrin [at their deaths] when they cannot meet the people they love,” Kudo told the “Daily Mirror.” “As they want to convey their bitterness, they may have chosen taxis … as a medium to do so.”