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At 2:46pm on March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck just 80 miles southeast of the Miyagi Prefecture. The quake lasted for six minutes and generated a tsunami that, in some places, reached 133 feet high and travelled more than six miles inland.
The earthquake was so powerful that the entire island of Honshu, Japan’s main island, moved 8 feet closer to the United States.
On the fifth anniversary of the disaster, official records listed 15,893 people dead and an additional 2,572 missing.
In the rubble of Tohoku’s coastal communities, there were reports of spectral figures walking the streets in residential districts where no buildings were left standing and ghosts waiting outside stores the no longer existed.
Today, on the eighth anniversary of the disaster, we remember its victims through the stories told by Japan’s taxi drivers of the Phantom Fares of Ishinomaki.
Photo: A Shinto Torii gate sits atop a hill in Ishinomaki, where more than 3,000 people drowned in the 2011 tsunami. Thousands of others remain missing. Many fled to this hilltop to survive. (Source: NPR)
- Taxi drivers report ‘ghost passengers’ in area devastated by 2011 tsunami by Hideaki Ishibashi [Archived Link.]
- Talking with the Dead Through Invisible Grief by Wakamatsu Eisuke
“The road to true reconstruction in the disaster-stricken Tōhoku region can be opened by conversing and living together with the dead there. Wakamatsu Eisuke, a literary critic acclaimed for his writings on the living and the dead, holds that talking about the existence of the dead is a must if we are to get on with life in the world after the 3/11 disaster.”
- The ghost school of Ishinomaki by Alex Thomson
“Alex Thomson returns to Ishinomaki’s Okawa primary school in Japan, where he finds harrowing reminders of the lives of the 74 children and teachers who died in the tsunami there ...”
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