A sociology student in Japan interviewed taxi drivers for a thesis and found that a number of them reported picking up ghosts after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Where were they going? Are ghosts good tippers?
Have I died?
That’s not the kind of comment taxi drivers expect to hear from a fare but that’s just one of the eerie comments drivers working in Ishinomaki related to Tohoku Gakuin University sociology student Yuka Kudo. About 6,000 Ishinomaki residents died as a result of the 2011 disaster, making it one of the hardest hit areas and the reason why Yuka chose it for her study.
After these disaster, did you face anything different in your life?
Yuke asked this question from more than hundred drivers during her research period. She told that most of them didn’t get angry with the question, but also paid no interest in it. Only seven of the drivers were interested and shared their experiece with her.
One of the drivers told that he saw a man along side the road, he stopped and asked where he would like to go. He was quite young and looked like a 20 year old person. He pointed to a direction and said “Hiyoriyama” (mountain) again and again. As soon as they reached the destination, the passenger was nowhere in the car. Another driver got a woman who wanted to visit a deserted area. The driver told her that there is nothing in that area, she asked, “Am i alive?” When he looked back to the girl, she was nowhere.
Many drivers told similar stories to Kudo and the drivers consider them as a spiritual experience. They verified their stories by showing the records as they started their meters, which means they were responsible of collecting the money from passenger, but they haven’t collected because the passenger vanished. So, they paid the money from their own pockets.
Yuka Kudo is soon to become a sociologist, and that is the reason he is researching about all these things. It looks like she believes that those were ghosts of young person who died in a disaster.
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.
So Yuka thinks these were ghosts were hoping their taxi ride would cross over a different bridge. Could it be something besides ghosts? Here’s another scenario from Ishinomaki psychiatrist Keizo Hara.
We think phenomena like ghost sightings are perhaps a mental projection of the terror and worries associated with those places. It will take time for the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to emerge for many people in temporary housing for whom nothing has changed since the quake.
Did these cab drivers pick up real ghosts or were they hallucinating from PTSD? Would an Uber driver make a ghost pay surge prices?