That’s some dam fine work.

On October 13, a taxi driver in the city of Fukusaki, Hyogo Prefecture, picked up a young women who was waiting for a can outside of Fukusaki Station. When she got in the car, she asked the driver to take her to the dam.

This might seem like an odd request, but in recent years dams have become popular as quirky tourism attractions. Dam fans enjoy the dramatic views their offer and their status as symbols of science and engineering, with many going to snap photos of the jumbo-sized infrastructure and a few locations even becoming unique date spots.

Still, the woman’s request was unusual. She was by herself, and since it was already evening, it was going to be too dark to take good photos, as the closest dam to the station is about an hour’s drive away. Still, if that’s where the woman wanted to go, that’s where the taxi driver, 61-year-old Masamune Higashino, would take her. Like all otaku, dam otaku’s passion is sometimes a hard thing for those outside the hobby to understand.

As they arrived at the dam, though, Higashino felt that his passenger was acting strangely, because she didn’t seem excited at all. Granted, there are a lot of people wouldn’t get all that amped up from going out to a dam in the middle of the countryside at twilight…but those people also wouldn’t take an hour-long taxi ride to do that very thing. For anyone who would go to all that trouble for such a specific activity, you’d expect it to be right in the middle of their entertainment strike zone, but the woman didn’t seem enthused at all.

“I didn’t feel right leaving her there like that,” Higashino recalls. So once the woman paid her fare and got out, he didn’t step in the gas and go back to town to look for another fare. Instead, he got out of the car too and spent some time walking near the top of the dam’s embankment with the girl. After some time had passed, she declared “I’ll head back to the station,” so the two of them got back in the taxi for the return trip, and then the woman began to cry, confessing to Higashino “I came to the dam to die,” having planned to kill herself by jumping from the top.

In Japan, you’ve got about equal chances of your cab driver being silent as chatty, as a lot of passengers prefer a quiet ride to their destination. Faced with what the woman had told him, though, Higashino felt compelled to dissuade her from such a tragic course of action, telling her “If you die, there are a lot of people who’ll be sad.” After asking for her family’s phone number, he called them to let them know she was dealing with a dangerous emotional crisis, and also contacted a counselor and the police, who took her into protective custody.

Higashino has since been presented with a letter of commendation from the Fukusaki police precinct for his intuition, compassion, and going above and beyond even Japan’s stellar standard of customer service.

If you or someone you know is in Japan and having suicidal thoughts, there are people here to help. Click here for more info.

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun via Livedoor News via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
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