07 January 2017

New York Post: “The chilling stories behind Japan’s ‘evaporating people’”

Of the many oddities that are culturally specific to Japan — from cat cafés to graveyard eviction notices to the infamous Suicide Forest, where an estimated 100 people per year take their own lives — perhaps none is as little known, and curious, as “the evaporated people.”

Since the mid-1990s, it’s estimated that at least 100,000 Japanese men and women vanish annually. They are the architects of their own disappearances, banishing themselves over indignities large and small: divorce, debt, job loss, failing an exam.

Japanese culture also emphasizes uniformity, the importance of the group over the individual. You must hit the nail that stands out is a Japanese maxim, and for those who can’t, or won’t, fit into society, adhere to its strict cultural norms and near-religious devotion to work, to vanish is to find freedom of a sort.

Maureen Callahan

A secret world hidden within the public world – fascinating how far a society can go when it refuses to let go of traditions and conformism. But I guess evaporating from the world is a bit better than straight up committing suicide, since there’s still a slim chance of returning.

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