In the aftermath of the 2011 disaster that hit Japan’s Tohoku coastal communities, when a large earthquake was followed by a massive tsunami, then a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, there have been many reports of paranormal activity.
After the disaster Tohoku came to be inundated with souls lost in the tsunami with multiple reports of sightings. Some believe this was the inevitable result of the tsunami taking so many lives from people unprepared to relinquish their attachment to this world. Ghost stories were now common: a dead woman would visit family in their new housing and sit down for a drink, leaving dampness on the cushion she was seen to have been seated upon.
Several taxi drivers in Japan have reported experiences with “ghost passengers,” apparitions they say entered their cabs then disappear before the ride is over. One driver recounted a woman who got into his taxi asking, “Have I died” and disappeared before they reached her destination, while another tells the tale of a young man who asked the driver to take him to a mountain before he vanished into thin air.
Perhaps the spookiest thing is that the detailed logs for many drivers with ghost stories have been checked, and all they said was verified. Japanese taxi drivers start the meter as soon as a passenger enters the car and these drivers all reportedly ended up paying the unpaid fares for their ghostly riders. Interestingly, all the ghostly travellers are described as being young people. It is widely recognised among paranormal experts that young people feel especially angry at dying prematurely and are more likely to stay attached to this realm.
Vanishing hitchhikers are a common phenomenon throughout the world which adds another layer of mystery to these occurrences in Japan. The characteristics of vanishing hitchhiker stories tend to be as follows:
A hitchhiker enters and leaves a vehicle as a normal person would but leaves behind an item or sometimes borrows an item form the driver for protection from the cold such as a scarf. The hitchhiker tends to leave some form of information that encourages the driver to try to track them down. In some accounts of the legend the hitchhiker gives the driver an address in a local cemetery where they find the item they loaned draped over a headstone.
In another version of the legend, the driver finds the family of a deceased person using the information the hitchhiker left behind.
Other variations reverse the scenario stating that the hitchhiker meets a driver then later learns that the driver has passed away at some point before their meeting.
A legend from Hawaii involves a goddess named Pele hitchhiking with drivers and rewarding them for their kindness or warning them of upcoming disasters before vanishing.
It seems this phenomena is fairly commonly reported throughout human history. Perhaps vehicles provide a medium for spirits to connect with us more easily. Hopefully as more of these events are documented we can gain a better understanding of them.