Ghosts of Fukushima

Do you believe in ghosts?

Recall the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant in 2011 ( Particularly hard-hit was the city of  Ishinomaki, with 3,097 deaths and 2,770 residents missing.  In 2016, Yuka Kudo, a graduate student in sociology at Tohoku Gakuin University, traveled to Ishinomaki and began asking taxi drivers,  “Did you have any unusual experiences after the disaster?” Most ignored her, some got angry, but out of 100 interviews, seven told stories that have no logical explanation, like people who hailed cabs, then disappeared before reaching their destinations. 

Strange as these stories sound, they do touch on cultural beliefs. Japanese culture, through Shinto tenets of ancestor worship, has a relationship with ghosts, or yūrei. A spirit with unfinished business or who has not been laid to rest properly, like dying suddenly in a disaster, will wander the earth searching for a home that can no longer be reached. So perhaps the tales those taxi drivers are telling aren’t so strange after all.

For specific stories, see “The Ghosts Who Hailed Taxis” by Addison Nugent (

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