Cab drivers working in Ishinomaki have reported picking up “ghost passengers” over the past several years, victims they suspect were lost to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster. Much of the port city was wiped out by a 30ft ocean wave, causing 29,000 people to loose their homes and 3,100 their lives. Although it has been almost five years since the devastation, some locals are convinced that victims still wander the area.
According to the Telegraph, one man picked up a woman who wanted to travel from Ishinomaki Station to the Minamihama district, a few months following the destruction. After telling her that the area had been decimated, the woman suddenly asked, “Have I died?” Turning around, the driver found his taxi empty.
Researchers conducted a study at the University of Manitoba, Columbia University, and the University of Regina, concluding that those seeing “ghosts” are most likely suffering from PTSD as a result of living through the traumatic experience. Despite these scientific findings, some people have even employed exorcists to help them overcome these seemingly supernatural visions.
Keizo Hara, a psychiatrist in Ishinomaki, says that while these occurrences do not seem to currently affect a large percentage of the local population, “It will take time for PTSD to emerge for many people in temporary housing for whom nothing has changed since the quake.”