If you combine Japan's general eagerness to customize already amazing transportation services with the country's willingness to explore the more absurd sides of horror, you'll probably wind up with a taxi tour in Yokohama which drops you off at a series of haunted and unsettling locations.

Although there are skeptics in every country, Japan has a documented affinity for ghosts and spiritual apparitions, and there is a not too uncommon belief in shinrei spots, or locations that are haunted or frequented by spirits--usually those who were wrongly taken from the world of the living. Now the Sanwa Koutsu taxi company is giving ghost loving thrill-seekers a chance to explore Yokohama's most terrifying locations of ghost activity with their "Shinrei Spot Junrei Tour", or "Ghost Spot Pilgrimage tour". These sites include abandoned hotels, haunted tunnels, mysterious dead-ends, and scenes of rumored "incidents" that range from unexplained to grisly.

Your night of fright begins when Sanwa Kotsu sends a taxi to pick you up at Shin-Yokohama station between 8-9PM (my ride began on an appropriately rainy night), and upon boarding the cab you are warned that the company has no control over what happens at each site, and will not take any responsibility. So they present you with a waiver to sign. This came across as a publicity stunt, but as it was an official document with company seal, the company is apparently ready to wash their hands of any paranormal disaster you experience. So armed with that dead and uncertainty, we're off to the tour spots--which the driver assured us were the creepiest he had ever scouted.

Here's just a few.

The Tunnel of 1,500 Deaths

Winding roads on a rainy night led us to the site of what used to be a castle during Japan's Sengoku period. In just one night, 1,500 people in the castle were killed, leaving the ruins of the castle as a rumored place of haunting. When railroads began to expand, a tunnel was carved through what used to be the ruins of the castle. Our driver noted that this year the number of people that had jumped onto train tracks had increased, and that he had no doubt that this was one tragic source of that unfortunate number. He also mentioned that many of his drivers reported that their doors and windows, which respond only to the driver's command, would mysteriously open and shut when passing the tunnel.

In one particular report from a driver, a girl in a tattered one piece dress boarded the taxi, and requested to be let off in the middle of the road. Although the driver was concerned, she convinced him that "someone was coming to pick her up", so he let her off. She then walked in the exact direction they had came from, and when the driver double-checked his mirror, she was gone. Turns out all the other drivers laughed off his story as foolishness, but given what was on the road they passed...

The Bridge Humans Cannot Pass

A few minutes removed a love hotel where "strange things happen" (all the information he would offer up), came a bridge that appeared to be a normal overpass. However as we progressed forward, the fencing became more rusted, and the path narrowed into a stone path swallowed up by nature. Our driver informed us that this bridge was started with the intention of connecting a public path to a home for ceremonial rites for the departed, but its construction was mysteriously halted midway. Many speculate that this was the doing of spirits who viewed the human traffic as trespassing.

Behind this was a road said to have many car accidents, and thus later converted into a more pedestrian-exclusive path. At its end was a memorial site that the driver said gave him an ill feeling.

An Uninhabited Pond Area

The next spot provided an interesting twist on things, with a "choose your own path" type of decision. Despite how bustling with city life Yokohama can be, it was only a matter of minutes before our driver took us down some unfamiliar roads and let us off at secluded area that consisted only of rice fields and a simple pond. As we made it to a point where the road diverged into two paths, the driver asked which of the two paths seemed more ominous. All in our group concurred that the narrower path was more unsettling, and so the driver took that as a positive vote and urged us to head down it.

Our guide noted that customers had a tendency to avoid taking this path (although considering he forced us to take it anyway...), and that some claimed to hear laughing children the closer they got to the pond. It was only after we headed back that he told us that a young boy was said to have drowned in the pond many years ago.

The Tunnel of the Wandering Girl

This time after the driver let us off at the location, he elected not to accompany us to the actual destination. He instead encouraged us to use our flashlights, and told us of how the tunnel up ahead was an unnatural dead-end. Apparently, many years ago a young girl died in a car accident near that dead-end, and ever since then traffic accidents in the area increased mysteriously. Because of that the path was converted into a haphazard dead-end. People still claim to see a girl standing nearby or reflected in their rear-view mirror when they pass the area.

Upon returning from the jarring dead-end, our driver told us that once he took a famous Japanese actress (Takahashi Hitomi) down this path, and she refused to continue any further half-way through. Others told him they could hear a girl talking in the bushes near the tunnel.

The final spot of the tour was a secluded, two-story warehouse. People who work in the area claim to hear screams every now and then from the second floor, and avoid entering at all costs. Upon arriving the driver told us he could no longer accompany us, and took back our flashlights before challenging us to ascend to the dreaded second floor alone. From there you are asked to proceed to the "last boss" of the tour. Unfortunately part of the waiver I signed requests confidentiality on this final portion, but I can tell you that the inside of that warehouse was quite a thrill. Not to mention that braving it rewards you with an official certificate that states you made it out alive.


You're also provided with salt, which is traditionally used to throw over your shoulder before entering your home after a funeral. After all, it's not like the spirits on this tour go away.

All in all, the ghost spot pilgrimage tour is a great experience for fright fans. Unfortunately, unless you have Japanese ability or a friend who can help you out, it may be a bit difficult to appreciate the rumors and stories surrounding each haunted spot--although the areas are so well scouted and eerie in their own right that just going there in the dead of night is chilling enough to make a trip worth it. Sanwa Koutsu is aiming to do the tour again next year as well.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.