All over the world, from the United States to Germany to the UK, there are people who have decided to disappear from their own lives without a trace.
At midnight, they leave their homes, jobs, and families to start a new life. Often, without turning back.
In Japan, these people are called “jouhatsu”.
In Japanese it means “yawn”, but it also refers to people who purposely just disappear, and hide their existence for years, even decades.
“I’m sick of human relations.
I packed a small suitcase and it disappeared, “said Sugimoto, 42, who only wanted to be named by his surname.
In his small hometown, everyone knows him because of his family and their prominent local business.
Sugimoto is expected to be the successor of the business.
Her family’s hopes depressed her until she suddenly left her city, forever.
No one told him where he was going.
From debt bondage to loveless marriages, there are various motivations that drive the jouhatsu to disappear.
Regardless of the reason, they are looking for companies that can help make the process easier.
This company helps people who want to disappear secretly to escape from their lives, to provide a secret residence.
“Generally the reasons for moving are something positive, like going to university, getting a new job or getting married,” said Sho Hatori, who founded a “moving night” company in the 1990s when Japan’s economic bubble burst.
“But there are also sad moves. For example, getting kicked out of university, losing your job or running away from a stalker,” he said.
At first, Hatori thought financial ruin was the only thing driving people to escape troubled lives.
But it turns out that there are “social reasons” too.
“What we are doing is supporting people to start their second life,” said Hatori.
Sociologist Hiroki Nakamori has been researching jouhatsu for more than a decade.
“The police will not intervene unless there is another reason, such as a crime or accident. All a family can do is pay a lot to private investigators. Or wait. That’s all,” said Nakamori.