On March 11, 2011, an earthquake and ensuing tsunami destroyed the town of Ishinomaki. Nearly a year has passed. Kids might be back at school, reconstruction might be underway, but things will never be the same—not with all those the town lost.
"If you know someone who was killed, and the death was so sudden, you may feel that person is still there," resident Shinichi Sasaki told AFP. "I don't believe in ghosts but I can understand why the town is rife with rumors."
One construction project in Ishinomaki was stalled due to fears of bad luck being brought on from those who lost their lives last spring. One taxi driver also told AFP that he won't stop in certain parts of Ishinomaki, fearing that the passenger could be a ghost. There are also stories of people seen rushing to the hills, as if to escape the tsunami, during those terrible moments in which the town was engulfed.
"Human beings find it very difficult to accept death, whether they are inclined by nature to superstition or are very scientifically minded," cultural anthropologist Takeo Funabiki told AFP. "A sudden or abnormal death, anything other than someone dying in bed of old age, is particularly difficult for people to comprehend.
"When there are things that many people find difficult to accept, they can find expression in the form of rumors or rituals for the dead, amongst other things."
During Japan's annual Obon festival, in which the deceased returned to Earth, offerings were made those who lost their lives in the earthquake.
"Many people who were leading normal lives died suddenly," said Yuko Sugimoto, who said she hadn't seen any ghost. "I'm sure they must find that difficult to accept. It would be strange if you didn't hear anything about any of them."
One year on, 'ghosts' stalk Japan's tsunami city [Yahoo! News]