Japan sees huge growth in jobs in the “cleaning up the homes of old people who die alone” field

Demand grows more than 10 times in size in just five years as Japanese family dynamics change.

As time passes, technology advances, and economies evolve, certain industries will shrink. For example, electronics manufacturing used to be a huge part of the Japanese economy, but it’s been in contraction for many years, with Casio’s exit from the digital camera game the most recent example.

But on the other hand, some industries can see huge growth due to socioeconomic trends. So if you’re hunting for a job in Japan, and you want to be part of a rapidly expanding field, you might want to consider a position in tokushu soji, or “special cleaning” industry.

What makes the cleaning special? Well, tokushu soji companies come in and clean the homes of senior citizens who have died alone. Back in the old days, this is something that was almost always handled by surviving relatives, often the deceased’s children, and in fact it used to be far more common than it is today for elderly parents to live with their offspring in multi-generational homes.

Things have changed, though. As families become smaller and more people move farther away from home to seek out academic or professional opportunities, the number of seniors in Japan who live alone has been steadily increasing, from roughly 4.1 million in 2010 to 6.55 million in 2016 (according to statistics from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare). In response, there are now over 5,000 companies offering special cleaning services in Japan, which is 15 times as many as there were just five years ago.

Aside from recycling or otherwise disposing of the deceased’s possessions, special cleaning companies have to clean and disinfect the home. Sometimes a significant amount of time will have passed before someone discovered that the resident had passed away, and in addition to using professional-grade cleaners and pesticides, special cleaning staff often wear protective clothing to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

While cleaning and waste disposal are the primary services offered, some special cleaning companies have expanded their role to coordinating funeral services. Many also believe that respectful treatment of surviving relatives is part of their duties, and the Special Cleaning Center, and industry group formed in 2013, offers training and certification programs to ensure high-quality service in both the technical and human aspects of the job.

With Japan’s birth rate steadily falling, demand for special cleaning services is likely to continue to grow, as families get smaller and the population gets older. It’s no doubt a difficult job, but it serves a valuable purpose for society, especially when someone passes away and leaves behind six tons of porno mags.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso

85-year-old Japanese granny wows internet with amazing piano performance【Video】

She has trouble standing and taking a bow after her performance, but her hands glide like the wind across the keys.

Talented musicians come in different packages, and we’ve even seen some that were a little unexpected, like a wandering samurai, a six-year-old girl, and a busty gravure idol, so we aren’t really surprised by much anymore. Nevertheless, this seemingly frail 85-year-old Japanese granny and her amazing piano skills sure have impressed us.

A video of her playing was uploaded by YouTube user kimurama1 in August, but it was shared on Twitter just the other day by @hokuro_, and now it’s got over 400,000 views on YouTube and almost 170,000 likes and retweets on Twitter. Why? Well, just watch.

You might think that for such a cute little Granny, she’s not going to be able to play anything really crazy. Maybe a slow sonata or something somewhat basic, but with the potential to be cool, like “The Entertainer.” But no, this Granny is here to impress: she’s playing Franz Schubert’s “Impromptu Opus 90 No. 4”.

“Impromptu Opus 90 No. 4” is not an easy piece; it switches keys twice and has a 10-page score, which at one time contains a non-stop stream of quarter-note chords for both hands. It’s more than eight minutes long and involves a lot of moving up and down the keyboard, but this granny is not fazed. She effortlessly plays the entire song, with the help of a page flipper, and even looks like she’s having a great time doing it.

▼ Look at those hand flourishes!

She’s not just skillful at playing the right notes in a complex melody, though; her playing is emotional and full of musical expression. She plays the Impromptu in such a way that it feels like the melody is floating around you, filling you with the emotions of it. And like a true pianist, when she finds a phrase that’s especially fun to play or is especially beautiful, she leans forward in anticipation. Her joy in the music is evident.

▼ These hands may look weathered, but they are as strong as ever.

Amazingly, half the time she doesn’t even look at the sheet music! After finishing off the Impromptu with some triumphant staccato chords, she takes a moment to relax and let it sink in that she played such an exulted piece before taking a bow with a big smile. While standing, she needs to stabilize herself with the piano and the chair, but her arms and hands needed no assistance to play the music.

At the end of a video some words are exchanged, but it’s hard to hear what is being said. The video descriptions and tweets are not clear as to what the occasion for the performance is; the video only said that it is a birthday party, though for who it doesn’t say. Nevertheless, this granny managed to impress her audience, both physical and digital, as netizens all over Japan sing praise for this unexpectedly talented pianist:

“She has excellent movement and expression of the notes. What a wonderful performer! I want to send her a ‘Bravo!’”

“She’s not just good, she’s got an ear for musical expression that must have been developed over decades of experience.”

“I want to be like this lady when I’m old! If I can only continue playing the piano until my last days, I’ll be happy.”

“It’s wonderful just watching her play, even without sound. Just looking at the pauses, the fingers, and the wrists, you can tell she’s not an ordinary pianist.”

“Watching her muscles tense when she’s getting swept along by the melody matches well with the power of her performance. She’s very cool.”

“Her fingers are so light! Wow! It’s such a nice recreation of the song, and it really stimulates the brain.”

Granny’s talent and skill on the piano may be a surprise to some, but it’s likely she’s got a whole lifetime of experience in playing the piano behind her, so in hindsight we ought to have expected her to be brilliant. Besides, we should know never to be surprised by the elderly in Japan, who can be just as activecreative, or heroic as anyone else.

Source: YouTube/kimurama1 via Twitter/@hokuro_ via My Game News Flash
Images: YouTube/kimurama1 

81-year-old Japanese man leaps into river to save drowning 86-year-old woman

Because you’re never too old to be a hero.

On February 19, 81-year-old Shigetaro Imanishi was enjoying an afternoon stroll along the Yumesakigawa River (pictured above), near his home in the city of Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture. The weather was brisk but sunny following a rain shower, but as he was soaking up the atmosphere at around 2 p.m. Imanishi thought he heard a voice calling for help.

After scanning his surroundings, though, he didn’t see anyone in distress. Just when he was about to continue on his way, though, Imanishi heard a second faint cry of “Help me,” and this time when he looked at the river, he saw the head of an 86-year-old woman, who had fallen into the water, barely sticking out from above the surface as she struggled and clung desperately to some reeds.

And so Imanishi sprang into action, leaping into the river as he called out to a married couple that was standing on the bank some 50 meters (164 feet) further down the path he’d been walking on. Swimming out to where the elderly woman was drowning, Imanishi managed to keep her head up above the water, and in time the married couple, 50-year-old husband Tetsuya Kojima and 49-year-old wife Keiko, arrived, and the three rescuers together pulled the woman back to shore.

Once there, the trio took the woman (who turned out to be a local resident) back to her home, and called an ambulance so that she could be examined. It’s a good thing they did, because while they were waiting for the ambulance to arrive Imanishi himself collapsed from hypothermia, and so the paramedics took both him and the woman who’d fallen into the river to the hospital.

Thankfully, Imanishi’s condition rapidly improved, and he was discharged the next day. In recognition of their actions, Imanishi and the Kojimas were all awarded the Nojigiku Award, and official commendation from the Hyogo prefectural government.

Imanishi’s family, while obviously proud of him, also expressed worry over his putting himself in danger at such an advanced age. The octogenarian shrugged this off, however, saying “I’m so glad we were able to help her,” and “Wanting to save someone who’s in danger doesn’t have anything to do with how old you are.” His selfless attitude is a virtuous example to both young and old, and a reminder that senior citizens can be heroes too, provided they’re not too busy participating in bladed-instrument street fights.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News/Kobe Shimbun Next via Jin
Top image: Wikipedia/Bakkai

Japan’s angriest old man takes time out of busy day to yell at young driver, gets arrested【Video】

Rural resident doesn’t have time for slow driver, somehow does have time to stop and call him a dumbass.

Ideally, I think we all want to achieve a sense of satisfied inner calm as we get older. Surely, by the time you’re in your 70s, you’d hope that you’ve learned how to get along with, or at least make peace with, the other human beings you share the planet with.

Likewise, while there are many sources of stress that come with living in the city, spending your days in more bucolic environs, like, say, the rural town of Komono in Japan’s Mie Prefecture, seems like it should help you become a laid-back person.

▼ In addition to beautiful scenery, Komono also boasts a local hot spring.

But sometimes the opposite happens, and being 70-plus years old simply means that someone just has seven decades’ worth of pent-up anger inside, and living in the countryside means that all that ill-will gets flung at a person who really doesn’t deserve it, simply because there are no other targets around, as shown in this video of perhaps Japan’s angriest elderly motorist.

The video, uploaded to YouTube channel Shogeki na Channel, was originally captured by the drive recorder of an unnamed 20-something Japanese man who was driving through Yokkaichi, the town that borders Komonocho to the east, shortly before 1 p.m. on the afternoon of Saturday, January 13. For those who’ve never driven in Japan, speed limits can sometimes feel extremely slow, and in the residential section shown at the beginning of the video, the posted limit is 30 kilometers (19 miles) per hour.

Nevertheless, the driver obeys the law and makes his way slowly past the houses. Once he gets out into the farmland and the road opens up, the speed limit rises, so he increases his speed, but not enough to please the car behind him, which crosses over the center line like its driver is in a hurry…only to pull back into the lane and come to a complete stop.

This obviously means the 20-something driver has to stop his car too, and out of the car in front steps 77-year-old Komonocho resident Noriaki Matsuoka. Matsuoka strides up to the window of the young driver’s car, and fires off the opening salvo of his tirade with “You were driving slow on purpose, weren’t you?”

Confused, the young driver responds with, “What?” When Matsuoka repeats his question, adding in an extra dose of anger, the driver starts to explain the obvious, saying “The speed limit is 30 kilometers per hour back there-“ before Matsuoka cuts him off with “You dumbass!”

Startled, the driver tells Matsuoka that it’s dangerous to be standing in the middle of the road as he is. Bafflingly, this causes Matsuoka to start yelling at the driver to “Get out of the way!” despite the fact that Matsuoka is currently stopping traffic to pick a fight with the younger motorist. The confrontation takes enough time that the clouds actually begin to shift position in the skies above, and eventually a truck coming up from behind has to swing into the opposite lane in order to pass Matsuoka’s parked car.

During the heated exchange of words, neither Matsuoka nor the other driver can be seen, but the younger man claims that Matsuoka reached into the vehicle during the argument, causing him to say “I’m going to call the police!” He made good on the promise by contacting the authorities, who tracked Matsuoka from his car’s license plate, as seen in the video, and on March 5 arrested him for violation of traffic regulations and attempted assault.

Matsuoka denies reaching into the younger man’s car, but does admit to illegally parking his car in order to yell at the other driver, saying “I was angry that he was driving so slowly.” How he mentally reconciled his apparent urgent haste with taking time out of his journey to stop and jaw at a stranger remains a mystery, though police might want to look into whether or not Matsuoka is an associate of the similarly impatient man in Aichi Prefecture who attacked a truck driver he thought was driving too slowly with a replica samurai sword.

Sources: FNN via Hachima Kiko, Sankei West, YouTube/衝撃的なチャンネル via YouTube/Panda_AU
Top image: YouTube/衝撃的なチャンネル
Insert images: Wikipedia/Kazu2011, YouTube/衝撃的なチャンネル

Tough national exam question for elderly care workers in Japan hits netizens right in the feels

Life will come to an end someday, and it takes a special individual with a big heart to support those nearing the last legs of a long journey.

Japan’s aging population and declining birthrate paints a gloomy future for the nation, resulting in increased demand for committed care workers dedicated to providing assistance to the elderly.

The road to becoming a full-fledged care worker is fraught with hurdles. Certification is compulsory in Japan, and as caregiver @laughelper shows below, taking the national examination is not exactly a walk in the park either.

▼ Here’s one difficult question from the exam
that stumped netizens (translation below).

Mrs A (97 years old, female) has been admitted into a long-term care home. She has progressively weakened to the point of becoming unable to drink water on her own, and she’s often heard muttering ‘Ah, it’s time for me to pass away.’

One night, a care worker approached Mrs A’s bed to check on her condition. Mrs A opened her eyes and calmly said, ‘Is it my time to go yet?’

As the care worker, please choose the most appropriate response to Mrs A’s statement:

1. Encourage her to quickly return to sleep.
2. Hold and gently pat Mrs A’s hand.
3. Tell her that she shouldn’t say such things.
4. Assure Mrs A that you’ll get her family to contact her.
5. Think nothing of it and silently leave the room.

▼ It’s a tough but relevant question, as caregivers are bound
to come across something like this in their career.

Presented with a hopeless situation like this and five options that do little to ease the plight of Mrs A, Japanese netizens were torn:

“I think it’s number two. Huh? What’s this wetness coming from my eyes?”
“There’s no right or wrong. Depending on the case, all of them are correct.”
“I’ve been a care worker for 17 years now, but I don’t know the answer.”
“No, this is just too sad.”

One experienced caregiver gave a very different answer:

“When I’m put into such a position, this is what I would tell them while smiling brightly: ‘There are more elderly people recently, and heaven’s currently congested at the moment. When it’s your turn, they’ll call you. Have they called yet?’

I don’t think it’s a good answer, but some have smiled and replied ‘I see.’”

What would you do? Becoming a passionate caregiver is one of the noblest acts one can do for humankind, and looking at how Japan is spiraling into a bleak future by 2040, the country needs these courageous individuals now more than ever.

Source: Twitter/@laughelper via My Game News Flash
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso

Elderly couple show off Dance Dance Revolution skills at Japanese video game arcade 【Video】

Proof that you can enjoy video games no matter how old you are.

One of the things we love about Japan is the spirit of the people here, who refuse to let things like age stop them from doing the things they’re passionate about. So far, we’ve seen an 88-year-old grandma take up Photoshop, a 93-year-old become a star model on Instagram, and a hip-hop dancing trio with an average age of 59 years between them, and now it’s time to be inspired by the older generation yet again, after a new video surfaced online recently.

The clip, posted by Twitter user , shows a couple at a Japanese game arcade, casually enjoying a game of Dance Dance Revolution. The couple don’t seem to care who is watching them, as they get caught up in matching the steps that appear on the screen as they make their way through the game.

Take a look at the video below:

@XEP_BOSS was impressed by the couple’s skills, affectionately dubbing them the “DDR grandpa and grandma“. People who saw the video were equally impressed, leaving comments like:

“I wish I could move as well as these two!” 
“Aw, they seem so young! This has brought a smile to my face.” 
“It’s great to see older people embracing a game rather than just admonishing it.”
“I too want to be a gamer for as long as I live!”
“I wonder if we’ll see more couples like this as the younger generation gets older in the future?”

This spritely DDR-loving couple certainly prove that you don’t have to be young to enjoy video games, and it’s true that it might not be long before we see more older people waiting for their turn on the machines at gaming centres around the country. Let’s just hope it doesn’t create the perfect setting for an intense video game showdown like this one between a father and his potential son-in-law!

Source: My Game News Flash
Featured image: Twitter/@XEP_BOSS

Funeral home in Japan offers drive-through funeral services

When you want to mourn the loss of someone and wish them eternal happiness in the afterlife without getting out of the car.

When I was at school, one of my friends moved with his family to Seattle, in the U.S., and sent back stories of the new and exotic land in which he lived. While the towering skyscrapers and vast, breath-taking scenery were a world apart from our little village, the thing that interested me most was drive-through cash machines. People wanting to take money out of the bank could do so without even stepping out of their car, something which seemed unnecessary for anyone with functioning legs.

It turns out that isn’t even the half of it, drive-thru funeral viewings are also a, admittedly rare, thing. Japan has now followed suit, opening up funeral services where those in mourning can offer their condolences and burn some incense for the deceased at a convenient window. Presumably the next logical step from drive-through butsudan Buddhist altars.

The Ueda-Minami Aishoden funeral home in Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture, opened its new service on December 17. Using a tablet, the attendee can register their details and leave messages. They will also be able to burn pinches of incense powder and hand over condolence money, as is traditional at Japanese funerals, without having to join a queue.

▼ Funeral attendees in Japan often take a pinch of incense and burn it, three times in total,
although this sometimes changes depending on the number of mourners.

The drive-through aspect is aimed particularly at the growing number of very elderly Japanese people who may find it difficult to stand in line for a long time to see off the deceased, allowing them to attend funeral services they might not otherwise be able to attend, rather than for catering to the time-stripped or simply lazy. The family of the deceased are also able to see and acknowledge drive-through visitors by way of a camera and monitor system installed at the window.

According to the president of the company which runs the funeral home, Juken Takehara, “At first there were some people who said it wasn’t respectful, but recently people have been grateful that we’ve taken these steps for the elderly or the disabled”. Some commenters queried the need for such a facility in the rural area of Nagano, as opposed to a big city where it’s much harder to park, though.

While it seems surreal to have someone do a drive-by condoling, if it allows someone to say goodbye to their friends and loved ones if they wouldn’t be able to otherwise, it’s no bad thing.

Source: Nikkei Shinbun via Hamusoku
Featured image: Twitter/T_chimpo
Insert image: Wikipedia/松岡明芳