Case File: Ishinomaki Ghosts
Location: Ishinomaki, Japan
Date: 2011 to present
Description: Ishinomaki is a city located in the Tōhoku Province, which is located in the Miyagi Prefecture in Japan. It is a port city that is surrounded by mountains, rivers, and the Pacific Ocean.
History: On March 11, 2011, an earthquake triggered a massive tsunami which devastated the coast of the Tōhoku Province of Northeastern Japan. Nearly 20,000 lives were lost. In the months that followed, hundreds of strange encounters were reported.
Ishinomaki, in the Tōhoku Province, was one of the hardest hit cities. It is surrounded by mountains, rivers, and the ocean. The Kitakami River is considered the "mother" of the town. It created the port of Ishinomaki. According to Teruo Konno, a city employee, its citizens receive wealth from the rivers and the sea. Resident Kansho Aizawa is a spiritual medium. Her relatives work with the ocean. They make nori, a seaweed product. She says the ocean has always meant prosperity to the people of Ishinomaki. They all loved the ocean, until the tsunami hit.
That afternoon, the earthquake struck Japan, causing severe damage. People in the area of Ishinomaki had experienced a number of large earthquakes before. The one that struck that day was a Magnitude 9.0; it was one of the largest ever recorded and the largest to ever hit Japan. When it struck, Teruo knew a tsunami would soon come. Using their emergency radios, he and his coworkers told residents to flee as quickly as they could. They gave evacuation instructions. They did everything they were trained to do. However, they were unable to expect the size of the tsunami that followed. As it approached the coast, it gained force and grew larger.
Teruo says his office ceiling caved in, and all the lights started to break. When the tsunami hit the building, he knew he was in serious danger. It was so forceful that it pushed him outside. He could not tell what was up or down. He thought he was going to die. He saw the faces of his wife and children. He tried his best to swim up for air. Eventually, he reached the surface. As he was being carried away, he wondered where he was going to end up. After struggling to stay afloat for two hours, he was rescued by a friend. Although he was suffering from severe hypothermia, he survived.
Reverend Taio Kaneta is a Buddhist monk and the reverend at a Tsudai temple in Kurihara, which is thirty miles from the coast. He remembers that after the earthquake and tsunami hit, it started to snow a lot. It fell on the injured and drenched survivors. He felt completely defeated. He did not understand why nature was being so cruel and merciless to people who were already suffering. The tsunami reached a maximum height of 131 feet. 15,854 people were confirmed dead. 2,533 are still missing. The next morning, Teruo learned that fifty-four of his coworkers had died. He felt like he was in hell. He says he never wants to experience that again.
Survivor Kazuya Sasaki found his eldest daughter’s body in a bamboo forest. He noticed some of the bamboos were bent; when he went over to look, he found her draped over one of them. He says she looked like she was sleeping, "She looked beautiful. There wasn’t a single cut on her face." His wife’s body was found about a three-minute drive away. About a week after the tsunami, he and some others were cleaning up debris. He was looking for his youngest daughter. Someone shouted, "I’ve found a baby!" Her face was swollen and covered in mud. He cleaned her face and realized it was his youngest daughter.
In Japan, people are normally cremated. But due to a lack of fuel and electricity from the nuclear power plant failure, the crematoriums were not functioning. As a result, people could not have funerals. They were forced to bury the dead in the ground. Later on, once the crematoriums were working again, the bodies were exhumed and cremated. Teruo recalls that bodies were carried in one after another nonstop. He says it was devastating to see them all pass by. Kazuya says it took him weeks to give his family a proper burial.
Reverend Kaneta says he performed funeral services for over 200 people that month. The first bodies he saw were two fifth-grade girls. He was not able to read a mantra because he could not stop shaking. He is a 26th generation reverend and grew up in his temple. He went to college and later trained as a monk. He says that everything he learned could not have prepared him for what happened after the tsunami. He did not know what to say to the survivors.
In June 2011, three months after the tsunami, journalist Shuji Okuno arrived in Ishinomaki. Almost immediately, he started hearing rumors of "ghosts of the dead." A reconstruction project on a supermarket was reportedly stalled because of fears that the spirits of those who died would bring bad luck. It was claimed that some of the people working there became sick because of the spirits. There were stories about groups of figures who were seen rushing towards the hills, as if they were trying to escape the tsunami.
Some people reported waking up in the middle of the night to unusual noises or sensations. Some reported seeing spirits wandering through the streets and on beaches, unsure if they were dead or alive. Others claimed to see "curious eyes" peering out from puddles in the road. Some even saw ghostly figures waiting outside the rubble of a supermarket, as if they were waiting to go inside. By October, there were dozens of reported sightings. Okuno started documenting people who had supernatural experiences. He later wrote the book, Stay Near Me, based on these stories.
One day, a man named Endo reached out to Okuno. He said he had experienced something supernatural. On the day of the tsunami, he visited a shelter to see if his mother was there. He was told to wait there for her. While he waited, he saw an older woman looking out the window and wearing his mother’s clothes. As he looked closer, he realized it was his mother.
Endo took out his camera and took a picture of his mother, so that his family would know she was safe. When he looked at her again, he realized that her face had changed into someone he had never seen before. He later found out that the microbus his mother was riding in was washed away by the tsunami around the same time he took the picture at the shelter.
Until August 2013, Okuno continued to search for stories of people’s experiences with ghosts. The people he visited would say how desperate they were to see the spirits of their loved ones. They said they were still looking for some kind of message from them. For example, a woman who lives in Ishinomaki lost her three-year-old son to the tsunami. Since then, she has suffered from depression and panic attacks. Inside her home was her deceased son’s toy train.
One night, as the woman and her family sat down to eat, she talked to her son’s toy, saying "let’s eat together." A few moments later, the toy started lighting up and making sounds. It had a manual switch inside of an electric one, so there was no way for it to turn itself on without any force. Before that night, the woman looked forward to dying. She had a daughter who survived, and she would tell her, "Even though you might suffer when I die, at least I’ll be happy in heaven." But the toy reminded her that her son was watching her at all times. It helped give her purpose again.
Dr. Kiyoshi Kanebishi, senior professor of sociology at Tōhoku Gakuin University, says that unlike Americans, the families of victims in Japan do not seek out grief counseling. They know they would feel much more at peace with a counselor, but they are afraid it would make them forget the deceased. Reverend Kaneta thinks they do not seek help because of Japanese spirituality and the way they perceive life and death. They do not separate the dead from the living.
Shoji is a sliding door made of very thin paper. Reverend Kaneta says that to Japanese people, death is like a shoji. Once you open the sliding door, you go through to the other side, and the living can still see you through it. He says that survivors tend to move on at their own pace. He wants them to move on with their lives, but for them, "three steps forward can lead to three steps back."
Reverend Kaneta says many Japanese people have lost loved ones and have not had the chance to say goodbye. They do not think it is fair. He says the deceased feel the same way. Many Japanese people believe that because the tsunami took people before they were ready to die, their restless spirits still wander the Earth. There are rituals for placating unhappy spirits, but in the aftermath of the tsunami, few families were in a position to perform them.
Okuno heard a story from a group of people who had supernatural experiences. On a clear, dry night, a woman was preparing a meal when she heard a knock at the door. A person was standing outside, soaking wet; they asked for dry clothes. She went and got clothes for them. The visitor thanked her and then left. Soon after, she heard another knock at the door. This time, there were three people standing outside, all soaking wet. She did not open the door for them.
British reporter Richard Lloyd Parry, who has lived in Japan for decades, also explored the widespread phenomena of "tsunami spirits" in his book, Ghosts of the Tsunami. People reported to him that their neighbors - who had died in the tsunami - would come to their houses and sit down in puddles of water. He heard from several people about the spirit of an old woman who haunts a refugee community in nearby Onagawa. She would appear in the living rooms of the temporary houses, and sit down for a cup of tea with the startled occupants. No one had the heart to tell her she was dead. When she left, the cushion on which she had sat was wet with seawater. In Tagajo, a fire station received repeated calls to places where all the houses had been destroyed by the tsunami. The firefighters drove to the houses anyway and prayed for the spirits. After that, the calls stopped.
A young man told Parry about feeling pressure on his chest at night, as if some creature was "straddling" him as he slept. A teenage girl said a "fearful figure" was squatting in her home. A civil servant in Soma said he visited a devastated stretch of coastline and saw a woman in a scarlet dress. She was far from the nearest road or house, with no means of transport in sight. When he looked away and then looked back in her direction, she had disappeared.
Parry also heard about two psychics who seemed to have differing opinions on what was happening to the spirits of the seventy-four students who died during the tsunami at Okawa Elementary School. Naomi Hiratsuka wanted to speak to her daughter Koharu's spirit, in hopes of finding her remains and learning what happened to her. A friend introduced her to a young psychic who had reportedly helped find the remains of a missing woman. Naomi and the psychic met at the place where the school once stood. While there, they both heard the voice of a young woman. However, no one else was there.
The psychic then said he saw spirits around the school; many of them were crawling on the ground. Some were stuck in water, covered in mud, and swallowing the dirty water "in terrible suffering." Some appeared to be thrashing around as if they were drowning in mid-air. Some were trapped and trying to get out. But he could not tell if they were the spirits of those who had already been found, or if they were the ones that were still missing (like Koharu).
Naomi decided to contact another psychic, Sumi, to see if she could contact Koharu. Sumi described Koharu as her family remembered her: chatty, bossy, and sweet. Sumi gave a detailed list of presents that Koharu was going to give to her family members. Sumi told Naomi to serve powdered green tea sweets, which were Koharu's favorite. Koharu asked (through Sumi) about the well-being of her family. Sumi also said that Koharu, along with the other deceased students, were at peace.
Kansho barely survived the tsunami. She says that there used to be houses all over an area that is now empty. She says it was like a small community. There is no trace of it anymore. She is very sad about what happened. Sadly, many places are still trying to rebuild. She says that after the tsunami, the spirits wanted to return home. But since the city had changed so much, they did not know how to find their home. Many of them did not know how to contact their families. Since lost souls do not have a place to go, they ask people on the streets for help.
Kansho says some people can see ghosts, while others cannot. She has been spiritual and "a bit odd" since she was a child. She used to think that everyone could see the dead when she was talking with them, but they could not. People frequently ask her what ghosts look like. She says they usually appear as a slightly transparent reflection through a glass window. Since the tsunami, she has seen some "gruesome" apparitions: headless ghosts, ones missing hands or legs, and ones cut completely in half. She says she sees them as they were when they died.
One night, a few weeks after the tsunami, Kansho was stopped by a group of young men who had died. They did not seem to know that they were deceased. But she knew, based on their appearances, that they were no longer living in this world. She says she could have simply ignored them, but she felt sorry for them, so she stopped. She asked them what had happened. One of them said he wanted to go home, but he was lost. She told them the truth because she did not want them to suffer anymore. She said, "All of you have passed away."
Since the tsunami, many survivors have contacted Kansho, asking for her help. Some wanted to know where their loved one's bodies were located. Others wanted to know exactly how their loved ones died. Still others wanted to know if their loved ones were happy in the afterlife. Some even asked her to transmit messages to them. Today, she works with survivors to help them cope with the tragedy and connect them with the departed.
One survivor Kansho helped was Shinichi Yamada, a father of two. His family's home was destroyed in the tsunami, but he was able to salvage two Buddhist statues from the wreckage. When he brought the statues to their temporary house, strange things began to happen. His two children suddenly got sick. An inexplicable chill seemed to follow them as they moved about the house. On a few occasions while he was lying in bed, he felt something walk across him and step on his chest.
Worried, Shinichi turned to Kansho for help. She told him to build a shrine for the statues and pray for them. After that, the family's problems went away. He believes the spirits are still in their house, but due to his actions, they are now at peace.
Dr. Kanebishi says his specialty is the sociology of disaster. Every year, during his seminars, he asks his students to come up with a different topic to research for their senior thesis. One student, Yuka Kudo, suggested the story of the ghosts in Ishinomaki. She collected accounts from seventy-one survivors, many with compelling ghost stories and hauntings of their own. The ones Dr. Kanebishi found most believable came from taxi drivers because there were physical records connected to their sightings.
In August 2011, a man, around twenty years old and wearing a thick coat, got into a taxi. The driver felt there was something strange about the passenger. He especially thought it was strange that the passenger was wearing a thick coat in the middle of summer. By the time they arrived at the man's destination, the sun had already set. When he looked back, the passenger was gone.
There were several taxi drivers who had similar experiences. In Summer 2011, a driver spotted a woman hailing him down in a particularly hard-hit area. She was wearing a heavy winter coat, despite it being the middle of summer. She was also completely drenched, despite the fact that it had not rained in days. She climbed into his taxi and asked to be taken to the largely abandoned Minamihama district. He told her that that area was almost empty, and asked, "Are you sure?" After a few moments, she said, in a shivering voice, "Have I died?" When he turned around to look at her, she had vanished.
Another driver said he picked up a confused-looking man in his twenties who kept pointing forward when asked where he needed to go. Finally, he said, "Hiyoriyama," a mountain park near the city. After they arrived at the park, the driver turned around to be paid. There was no one there.
Some of the passengers appeared to be "drenched in water." One driver said he was afraid to stop in parts of the city that were destroyed because he was worried that his passenger would be a spirit. In all of these cases, the meters would continue to log their travels, which provides evidence of these ghostly phenomena. Someone needed to pay for these rides because the meters kept running. It turns out the drivers were the ones paying for their "ghost passengers." Many drivers had experienced the loss of their families to the tsunami as well. So, they said they would welcome the ghosts with open arms if they needed a ride again.
The disaster was very traumatic for the people of the Tōhoku region. Dr. Kanebishi thinks the presence of spirits is a way for people to cope with their PTSD, survivor's guilt, and emotions as a community. He believes the spirits are manifestations of this trauma. He also suspects that the spirits are imaginings of people coming to terms with the deaths of their loved ones. However, he also notes that after the Great Hanshin Earthquake, and after the devastation of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where many lives were also lost at once, data shows that ghost sightings were never publicly reported. So why did people experience ghostly phenomena after this particular earthquake in the Tōhoku region?
In the northern region of Japan, Tōhoku had the slowest development compared to the rest of the country. There are areas that are still very rural. Okuno presumes that is why the area still holds onto certain spiritual traditions. One tradition involves people offering food, drinks, prayers, and rituals to their ancestors. The ancestors will, in turn, bestow good fortune on them.
Dr. Kanebishi says the souls of the dead are invited by a spiritual shaman using a "kuchiyose" ritual, where the shaman acts as vessels to tell their stories. This tradition has been customary to the Tōhoku region. They believe death is not the end of the "journey." That is why the idea that the dead travel between two worlds is not uncommon.
Reverend Kaneta believes it lies somewhere even deeper. He says the relationship between the living and the dead is something that has existed from long ago. It remains in some fundamental part of everyone, and it became "shaken loose" by the earthquake and tsunami. He says, "perhaps you can say it’s part of the DNA of religious sentiment, but it all spewed out." Those feelings are especially strong in the Tōhoku region.
Dr. Kanebishi says he does not really believe in ghosts, and is not the type of person who would see them. However, he also says, "in everyday life, there are certain things that one cannot file away in a box. Although we cannot all process it now, we all carry data that is somehow important. In which case, regardless of how undefined they may be, we can leave them undefined." He believes that things like ghost encounters can remain ambiguous in people’s lives.
Reverend Kaneta says that scientists "complain" about people’s ghost stories. They tend to focus on evidence and logic, and usually brush these stories off as superstition. Some psychologists say that the stories are because of people’s trauma. He says that that is their interpretation based on what they have observed from "outside of this chaos." He says that their interpretation does not mean anything to him or the survivors. He wonders, "Why can’t we embrace them as they are and help find their own answers?"
Reverend Kaneta has felt a calling to help the victims. He has performed many spiritual cleansings and exorcisms since the tsunami. In one case, he helped a man, "Takashi Ono", who had become possessed. Takashi lived miles from the coastline. Ten days after the tsunami, he went to the disaster zone to see the destruction in person. After the visit, he returned home and had dinner with his family. After dinner, he began to feel lonely and started calling several of his friends.
Shortly after the phone calls, Takashi began acting very strangely. He jumped down onto all fours and began licking the tatami mats and futon. He then snarled at his family, saying: "You must die. You must die. Everyone must die. Everything must die and be lost." After that, he ran outside into a field next to his house. He rolled over and over in the mud, as if he was being thrown around by waves, shouting: "There, over there! They’re all over there — look!" Then, he stood up and walked further into the field, saying, "I'm coming to you. I'm coming over to that side." His wife had to wrestle him back into the house.
Throughout the night, Takashi writhed and bellowed in his bed, until around 5am, when he cried out, "There's something on top of me!" He then collapsed and fell asleep. He woke up that morning having no recollection of what had happened. That evening, as darkness fell, he saw people walking past his house, covered in mud. They looked familiar to him, but the images appeared to "flicker" like they were in a film. The next day, he was lethargic and inert. That night, he staggered while he walked, he glared at his family, and he waved a knife around, saying, "Drop dead! Everyone else is dead, so die!"
After three days of strange behavior, Takashi's family convinced him to go to Reverend Kaneta. Reverend Kaneta could tell just by looking at him that something was wrong; he believed that multiple spirits were possessing him. Takashi, meanwhile, felt hatred towards Reverend Kaneta; part of him resisted the reverend's efforts, while the other part was relieved that he was getting help. Reverend Kaneta performed an exorcism on him, reciting Buddhist sutras and sprinkling him with holy water. After it, he abruptly returned to his senses. He felt that the spirits in him (both animal and human) were gone. He has not felt them since. Reverend Kaneta suggested that Takashi's "flippant attitude" and lack of respect towards the disaster had attracted an angry spirit who had yet to find peace.
Another case involved a twenty-five-year-old nurse from Sendai, "Ami." One night, Reverend Kaneta's wife, Yuko, answered the door. She told him there was a young woman, Ami, that seemed ill. When he met with her, she said, "I feel many people inside me and I can’t stop them. Please help me, Reverend Kaneta." He says that during his long years at the temple as a priest, people like her have visited him before. But he never met someone who suffered as much as she did.
That night, Ami said to Reverend Kaneta, "Many spirits are entering my body and I can’t stop them." At the time, she did not really understand what was going on with her. All she could feel was pain. She says it was so painful, she wanted someone to kill her. She felt the spirit of a girl crying inside her. And the spirit of a man was holding the girl’s leg and would not let go.
As soon as Reverend Kaneta grabbed Ami’s feet, the male spirit said, "Who are you?" He responded, "Me? I’m the reverend of this temple." The man replied, "What is the reverend doing here?" Ami saw the man yelling and screaming. She says it was terrifying. Reverend Kaneta says the prayer takes a long time. By burning incense in front of Buddha, she was released from the possession.
Reverend Kaneta says that the possessed people he had seen in the past were incomparable to Ami. Her personality would change whenever she was possessed. He asked her if she lived near the disaster zone. He asked if she had experienced the tsunami. He also asked if anyone close to her had died from it. She said no to everything. She, herself, had nothing to do with the tsunami.
Ami says that even before the tsunami, ghosts would bother her. It was a year after the disaster when its ghosts started invading her life. Reverend Kaneta told her she could visit anytime. And she really came at "any time." It often started around 7pm and lasted until 2 or 3am. Through her, he was able to listen to the solemn voices of the spirits who lost their lives in the tsunami.
Ami says that after what happened to her at Reverend Kaneta’s, more and more victims of the tsunami started to enter her body. One of them was a girl who had to let go of her brother’s hand. The girl heard her brother saying, "Sis, I can’t run anymore." But she would not respond to him because they had to keep running from the water. Ami could see, hear, smell, and feel everything, even the touch of the brother’s hand. The girl was so scared, and Ami was too. She saw her brother being washed away.
Reverend Kaneta spoke to the little girl. She reached out to him, so he held her hand. But then, she said, "No!" and she let go of him. She said, "Mom! Mom! I want mom!" Ami felt helpless. She said, "Why isn’t anyone helping her?" The girl wanted to apologize to her mom for letting go of her brother. The girl kept saying, "Mom, I’m sorry." She was looking everywhere for her mom.
Yuko was near Ami at the time, so she chose to act as the girl’s mother and held her hand. Yuko remembers that Ami had a really strong grip. Yuko said to the girl, "Mom is right here. I will never let go. You are always here with me." Then, she said, "Let’s walk towards the light." And Ami started to follow her. She told the girl, "Go to the light. Everyone is there waiting for you." Then, Ami was finally able to let go of her hand.
During another session, a male spirit communicated with Reverend Kaneta through Ami. When Reverend Kaneta asked who the man was, he said, "I’m at the bottom of the ocean." Then, he asked, "Reverend, am I alive or dead?" Reverend Kaneta told him that there had been an earthquake and a tsunami; he then told him that he had died.
Over several weeks, Reverend Kaneta expelled more than two dozen spirits from Ami's body. She asked Reverend Kaneta if she was mentally ill. He said he did not think she was; she was just more "sensitive" than most. He told her he was not going to treat her as mentally ill. He believes there is a range of what humans can actually hear and see. But everyone is slightly different on that spectrum. Some can hear and see more than others.
Reverend Kaneta says that when big disasters happen, people’s ranges tend to expand, enabling them to see what is not supposed to be seen, and hear what is not supposed to be heard. They "feel" rather than "think." He says in everyday life, people sacrifice their need to feel without even knowing it.
Yuko says Ami’s story is neither a movie nor a made-up story. They normally would not share this story with the world. She says she will tell the story, but only if someone asks her about it. She says these things just happen. Reverend Kaneta says that at the time, he felt a sense of duty to confront the events that happened during the earthquake and tsunami. That sense of duty was what gave him the motivation to help Ami.
Reverend Kaneta says that what he did with Ami does not follow traditional Buddhist teachings. Some monks asked why he did such a thing, but he says he does not care. When he sees a woman who is suffering, he feels obligated to help her rather than worry about his religious beliefs. He does not believe any gods would get mad at him.
Since the tsunami, Reverend Kaneta has been asking himself, "What can I do as a monk?" From his interaction with Ami, he realized that what he can do is listen to people to help cure their pain. He wants people to talk about the pain that they are carrying in order to let it go. He and several other priests started traveling around the coast, organizing a mobile event called "Café de Monku". They met with people who were affected by the tsunami and let them talk about their experiences. The people talked about the terror of the tsunami, the pain of bereavement, and their fears for the future. They also talked about their encounters with the supernatural.
People described ghostly sightings of deceased strangers, friends, neighbors, and loved ones. They reported hauntings at home, work, in public places, and in ruined towns. The experiences ranged from strange dreams and feelings to outright possession. Reverend Kaneta and Yuko have since opened a café where survivors can meet to discuss their experiences. She is happy that they have created a warm place for people to gather. She wants to bring people joy, even if it is just for a moment.
Reverend Kaneta says that many survivors have asked him questions like, "Why did I survive? Why couldn’t I save them? Who’s dividing this line between life and death?" He says that many of them were scared of ghost sightings. They asked him what they should do. He has told them: "These ghosts aren’t scary at all. They appear in front of you because they worry about you and long for you. So, there is no need to be scared. If you see ghosts again, tell them, 'You are dead. There’s a world for you to go to. We are still living. We will remain in this destroyed city, and will make sure to revive and restore our relationship with the city. Do not worry about us.'"
On March 11, 2019, a memorial service was held for the tsunami victims in Ishinomaki. During the tsunami, many people lost albums filled with family photos. Over time, some of them were recovered. They are some of the last surviving photos of some of the victims.
Background: The Tōhoku earthquake started at 2:46pm on March 11, 2011. It was centered forty-five miles east of Tōhoku at a depth of fifteen miles below the ocean's surface. It shook the ocean floor for six minutes, triggering several powerful 128-foot tsunami waves. The waves, traveling at speeds of more than 435 miles per hour, struck several cities throughout northeastern Japan. The water traveled up to six miles inland in some places. A total of 217 square miles were flooded.
People had just minutes to flee their homes. Tragically, more than 100 evacuation sites were washed away. Millions lost access to running water or electricity, and more than 120,000 buildings were destroyed within a matter of minutes. Hospitals, schools, businesses, railways, roads, and homes were among the destroyed. Nearly 20,000 people were killed. More than 340,000 were left homeless. It was the deadliest tsunami to ever hit Japan. It was also Japan’s greatest single loss of life since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in 1945. There was over $360 billion in damage. The tsunami also caused a cooling system failure at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, leading to a meltdown. Much of the surrounding area is still uninhabitable.
Ishinomaki was one of the hardest hit cities; nearly half of it was inundated by the tsunami. 3,097 were confirmed killed; 2,770 are still listed as missing. 50,000 buildings were destroyed there.
- This case was first released on October 19, 2020 as a part of the second volume of the Netflix reboot of Unsolved Mysteries.
- It was dedicated to the people of Ishinomaki and all the victims of the tsunami.
- Ishinomaki Ghosts on Unsolved.com
- 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on Wikipedia
- One year on, "ghosts" stalk Japan's tsunami city - February 28, 2012
- Tsunami's Ghosts Haunt Japanese Earthquake Survivors - March 16, 2014
- Taxi drivers in tsunami disaster zone report "ghost passengers" - January 21, 2016
- Taxi drivers see "ghosts" after tsunami - February 5, 2016
- "Ghosts of the Tsunami": Richard Lloyd Parry offers a harrowing account, deftly told, of the 2011 disaster - October 23, 2017
- The Ghosts of the Tsunami - October 24, 2017
- Inside The Disturbing Legend Of The "Tsunami Spirits" That Have Haunted Japan Ever Since Its 2011 Disaster - October 16, 2020
- What Unsolved Mysteries Leaves Out About "Tsunami Spirits" - November 12, 2020
- Exorcist haunted by 'headless ghosts and spirits cut in half' after Japan's tsunami - November 25, 2020
- Ghosts of the tsunami still wander - March 13, 2021