Misawa ghost hunting, part one

This week’s ghost hunting adventures at Misawa Air Base, Japan, features Leftwich Park with stories of ghostly children who were killed during a 1942 airstrike. It is said that Misawa Air Base is one of the most haunted places in the city. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase)

This week’s ghost hunting adventures at Misawa Air Base, Japan, features Leftwich Park with stories of ghostly children who were killed during a 1942 airstrike. It is said that Misawa Air Base is one of the most haunted places in the city. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- With Halloween right around the corner, I’ve been digging into ghost sightings around Misawa. This week’s story took place at Leftwich Park.

I’m not one to believe in ghosts or hauntings, but these bone-chilling stories got me curious about the most haunted places around the base.

Many of these stories date back to the World War II era when the government of Japan began constructing a series of defense bunkers, located at modern day Leftwich Park, in case of an airstrike. July 14 and Aug. 8, 1945 the worst happened when aircraft attacked the base.

Legend has it that several women and children took cover in one of the bunkers; during the attacks a bunker collapsed killing at least two children.

Since the end of the war, multiple sources say they hear the sounds of children and saw ghostly apparitions.

One of the stories recounts a two-man security forces patrol responding to a call concerning two children playing at Leftwich Park during the night. Keep in mind, Leftwich Park is tucked away in one of the darkest corners of Misawa Air Base. It’s almost always foggy after sundown and without a flashlight it’s pitch black. They scoured the entire park but found nothing. After checking the park's bathroom, one of the patrolmen, who could be seen on closed security cameras, reported to the observation post they found no children. The observation post then radioed back, "What do you mean? They're standing right next to you."

After hearing this story, I had to find out if it was true. Could there in fact be ghosts?

Like any sane person would do, I wrangled my best friend and decided to go out to the park on a cold September night around 11 p.m.

Hopping in the car we put on the best “hype” music we could find, because, after all, ghost hunting is pretty serious business. The music didn’t last long. As we crept closer and closer to the park, my friend turned the volume down to practically nothing in hopes of hearing the unknown.

Pulling up to the park was something out of a horror movie – a slight cold breeze, fog, silence that could kill and of course, some flickering street lamps that failed to light the park.

The scene was set. Conditions were perfect and it felt like my heart could literally beat right out of my chest.

Let’s not even mention the location; next to a forest… really?

As we sat in the car looking out into the park, all I could think of is, “Am I going to die tonight? Why am I doing this right now? I must be out of my mind!”

After waiting about 15 minutes there was nothing. We decided to do a few laps around the park and film it just in case the camera captured the children like the story depicts.

The ghostly voices of lost souls who once walked this very spot seemed to be carried through the fog rising from beneath our feet. It sounded as if wind shrieked through the trees.

But there was no wind, not even the faintest breeze. The silence could hush a crying baby and the eeriness rushed through my body like a thousand pins.

So I ran. I don’t think I could have moved much faster back to the car. Locking the doors behind us and taking a moment to breath, we looked over the footage and decided we didn’t encounter any ghosts. 
Disappointed, or thankful, we decided to make one last-ditch effort in finding a ghost.

We decided to go up to the ski-lodge and Davy Jones Locker.

Once again, I kept thinking, “Why am I going to put myself in yet another scary situation?” This time we decided just to drive really slowly through the major loop that led back to the main road.

We began making the slow climb up the hill past the ski-lodge, looking left and right hoping to see something, anything really, it was, again, vacant. The atmosphere felt very similar to that of Leftwich Park, which seemed promising if trying to see ghosts. The bathroom to the left is constantly lit after dark and even the ski-lodge’s lights were on…in September.

As the road leveled out, I jumped out of my seat as my friend yelped! I looked up and saw three shadows with bright lights reflecting back at us.

Could this be it? Are these ghosts? The overwhelming feeling of horror and curiosity flooded through my body, again. I clutched the door handle thankful to be inside this time.

As we rounded the hill, we discovered the mysterious orbs we’d been spooked by moments ago were merely reflective belts of some bewildered sailors doing late-night physical training.

The question remains – are there truly ghosts at Misawa?