Back with Japanese urban legends: "The Night Passenger"


The spooky shape-shifting figure, which strongly resembles a woman with black hair, disappears once the taxi door slams shut.

When I started writing internet articles last year, I quickly shifted to the topic of Japanese urban legends because of my love for anime. I have always wanted to visit Japan for its rich history, as well as a way of learning more about Japan's paranormal world.

(c) Japan Guide

In today's blog post, I will address a common story in Japan. Actually, this is my fifth blog post about Japanese urban legends overall. So, there will definitely be more Japanese content in the near future from myself and my team.

The Night Passenger:

I heard this story for the first time when I was about eight or nine years old, as it was shared with me by a friend from school. When my friend told me the story of the "night passenger", he did not specify the location. However, as an adult I learned this was a Japanese legend from the twentieth century.

With respect to urban legends, stories fitting this genre often experience changes- especially when shared with others over time. Although ghost stories are not typically considered urban legends, the issue of the performer believing the story is what matters the most; as well as convincing their audience the story is true. Nevertheless, the story of the night passenger has been told in various forms around the world.

(c) Getty Images. This image depicts what appears to be a ghost, standing near the side of a road. Interestingly, this is a common paranormal trope.

The Story:

On a stormy autumn night, a taxi driver picked up a young woman who was standing near the city limits.

As a good cab driver, he proceeded to make conversation with the woman- hoping she would do the same. She seemed a little upset, so the cab driver just proceeded to the destination.

Photo by: Lexi Anderson

The cab driver couldn't help but notice the young woman appeared quite grief-stricken, as if she had just come from a funeral. In order to occupy his passenger's mind, the cab driver made his best effort to make conversation with the young woman while they approached her stop.

After driving for about twenty minutes, the cab driver pulled up to an apartment building and parked for quite some time.

Photo by: Yener Ozturk

While the taxi cab remained parked at the side of the curb, the young woman stared out the back window in complete silence before she told the driver to move on.

Shortly after this, the driver arrived at an older suburban home. As the driver pulled up to the home, the young woman said "This is it."

Naturally, the cab driver turned around to collect his fare but was taken aback when he realized the backseat was empty. The driver didn't hear the car door open, and all that remained was a large puddle of water where the woman had been sitting.

While fearing for his life, the driver was about to leave the area until an older man knocked on the window of the taxi cab which nearly caused his heart to burst from his chest.

The driver rolled down the window to greet the older man, who was now reaching out his hand with the exact cab fare the driver needed. Before the driver could say anything, the man said "thank you for bringing my daughter home." and smiled, "she sometimes likes to return to the land of the living and visit her husband at his apartment, since she left him behind many years ago."

The man explained his daughter was killed in an automobile accident, and appears on the anniversary of her death under stormy conditions. So, if you find yourself driving under these conditions- you just might encounter the night passenger.

Final thoughts:

The story of the night passenger is not a typical urban legend, since it's very much a ghost story. However, urban legends exist on a continuum that features the validity of belief from the performer.

Although ghost stories are not always plausible, ghost stories are often believable based on how much the performer is able to convince their audience and even scare them. In some cases, ghost stories are cautionary tales. However, the story of the night passenger emphasizes the issue of love, death, and tragedy.

What are your thoughts?

Thank you and stay safe,


The Modernist Son, 2020-

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