Unsolved Mysteries season 2, episode 4 recap – “Tsunami Spirits”

By Daniel Hart
Published: October 19, 2020 (Last updated: February 10, 2024)
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Unsolved Mysteries season 2 recap


Unsolved Mysteries season 2, episode 4 is not a mystery — it’s a collection of ghost stories and while we can sympathise with the subject of the chapter, it does not fit the format of the series.

This recap of Netflix series Unsolved Mysteries season 2, episode 4, “Tsunami Spirits” contains information of the tsunami of the Tohoku region in Japan. 

We recapped every episode — check out the archive. 

The opening

The episode opens up with the text: on March 11, 2011, a massive tsunami devastated the coast of the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan. Nearly 20,000 lives were lost. In the months that followed, hundreds of strange encounters were reported.

I remember this event vividly on the news and it looked horrific — like end-of-the-world type horrific.

Prosperity for the people of Ishinomaki

“Tsunami Spirits” gives the audience an eery opening. A reverend named Taio Kaneta talks about how someone asked if he’s alive or dead. The episode then talks about how Ishinomaki has oceans, mountains, and rivers; the Kitakami River is considered the mother of the town and it created the port of Ishinomaki — it created a lot of wealth. This is of course until the earthquake hit. The area has experienced many earthquakes, but on this occasion, an evacuation warning was announced due to the risk of a tsunami. This was a large one — one of the world’s biggest. Episode 4 demonstrates a cruel part of nature.

It was an extreme time of mourning

A man describes how he found his youngest daughter in the rubble. People couldn’t have funerals due to lack of electricity and the crematoriums couldn’t function. It was a devastating time — “Tsunami Spirits” shows footage of grief, which is difficult to watch.

Ghost stories

Episode 4 then moves to 3 months later and interviews Shuji Okuno, a journalist and author. He heard rumors of ghosts — he documented people who had supernatural experiences. One man on the day of the earthquake took a photo of his mother at a shelter. However, his mother’s face changed into someone else’s. His mother was actually killed by the tsunami.

Another woman who lost her young son had supernatural experiences — toys that were owned by the son came on by themselves. It helped the mother give her purpose again. Reverend Taio Kaneta explains how Japanese people do not separate the dead from the living. Another story is told about a woman visiting a house and she was drenched in water — she asked a woman if she could have dry clothes.

But that’s all “Tsunami Spirits” is… stories.

The deceased do not know they are dead

Episode 4 then provides incredible footage of the area before the tsunami and then 8 years after. It’s completely different. A resident describes how lost souls have nowhere to go and they ask the living for help. The same resident describes how she has been able to see ghosts since a child and how the deceased do not seem to know that they are dead. She has to tell them the truth.

Is it trauma?

A professor at a University analyzed taxi drivers who had paranormal experiences of picking up ghosts in their car. When the journey was finished, the ghost disappeared and the driver paid for the fare. They believe that most experiences are down to PTSD after such a traumatic event. The same professor does not believe in ghosts but he does believe in encounters that can be analyzed in data sets.

I’m glad that “Tsunami Spirits” gave a scientific view that felt plausible.

The ending

Reverend Taio Kaneta says that scientists have their own opinion and interpretations. He talks about times he’s had to help those who have been possessed. Since he came across these events, as a monk, he decided to listen to people to cure their pain.

Unsolved Mysteries season 2, episode 4 is not a mystery — it’s a collection of ghost stories and while we can sympathize with the subject of the chapter, it does not fit the format of the series.

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