Ghosts stories from Japan – level 3
Two years on from the tsunami that left nearly 20,000 people dead, ghost stories now haunt Japan's north east coast. Shinichi Yamada was lucky to escape the waves in 2011 - but in the weeks following the disaster he says an eerie chill began to follow him around the house.
"A couple of times when I was lying on my back in bed, I felt something walking across me, stepping across my chest."
Yamada's tale is echoed by many others along Japan's northeastern shores. Locals report sightings of ghostly figures in areas where now there is only rubble.
And taxi drivers say they often avoid the worst-hit areas for fear of picking up a phantom passenger.
"They are headless ghosts and some missing hands or legs. Others are completely severed in half. People were killed in so many different ways during the disaster and they were left fixed like that in limbo. So it takes a heavy toll on us. We see them as they were when they died."
Every week, religious leaders bring in locals for a counseling session and even two years on some are finding the memories tough to bear.
"When the pictures of the tsunami come on TV, I start crying straight away. Even now, it feels like maybe there’s something broken in my heart."
Some say the ghost stories are just a way of people dealing with their loss but no one so far has been able to explain the volume of these reported sightings.
Interesting words: haunt (scare as a ghost), eerie (strange), chill (cold feeling), echoed (repeated), shore (coast), sighting (view), rubble (broken parts of a house), headless (without a head), severed (cut), toll (bad effect), counseling (advice and support).
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