Japanese train travel isn’t all packed cars and gropers, old man’s flash-formed relay team proves

When this senior citizen saw someone drop their wallet in a crowded station, he used the power of teamwork to return it.

“Relaxed” is not a word that often gets used when describing trains in Japan. Because the trains are so punctual, some people plan their schedules down to the exact minute, sometimes diving into crowded carriages mere seconds before they pull away from the station, perhaps not even having finished the beer they just purchased.

But even in this rushed atmosphere, some people find, or rather make, the time to show kindness to others, like Japanese Twitter user @poppop31853240.

@poppop31853240 was recently walking through his local train station as another man was rushing to get to his train. In his haste, the man dropped his wallet, but failed to notice and continued hurrying on his way.

Actually, at first @poppop31853240 didn’t notice the dropped wallet either. Instead, it was picked up by an elderly gentleman. However, while the senior’s perceptiveness is as keen as ever, his legs no longer have the strength of a younger man, and though he gave chase, he was unable to catch up to the wallet’s owner.

At that moment, though, the older man and @poppop31853240 locked gazes. As he handed @poppop31853240 the wallet, the older man directed @poppop31853240 with his eyes towards the wallet’s owner, and @poppop31853240 sprinted ahead, as the second member of the impromptu relay team the pair had formed.

“It’s been at least five years since I’ve run that hard,” @poppop31853240 tweeted, “but I fulfilled my duty as the anchor, and passed off the baton,” he jokingly reports, having successfully returned the wallet to its owner.

The story touched the hearts of Twitter users, who praised the good Samaritans’ quick-thinking and teamwork with comments such as:

“Seriously, you and that old man are both so cool.”
“You guys make a great team.”
“When two sportsmen lock eyes, it’s like a sort of telepathy helps them understand one another.”
“Back in his youth, I bet the old man could have caught up to the owner. It’s like a changing of the guard between generations.”
“I want to buy you both a sports drink to say thank you for your hard work.”

Considering how ridiculously hot Japan is right now, a cold drink is definitely in order after the sudden sprint, as is a round of applause for the reminder that as hectic as train travel in Japan can be, having so many people crowded into the rail network means there are probably some genuinely kind people walking right next to you too.

Source: Twitter/@poppop31853240 via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
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Old Japanese woman gives over 80 million yen to scam artist in new case of Japan’s oldest scam

Assumption that man on the phone was her son costs senior citizen a gigantic fortune.

The “ore ore” scam is one of the oldest tricks in the Japanese fraudster’s playbook, which takes its name from the masculine way of saying “me” in Japanese. The con artist calls the target on the phone and instead of giving his name simply says “It’s me,” hoping that the target will assume it’s their son, grandson, or some other male acquaintance who’s in trouble, and will supply the necessary cash to get them out of the non-existent jam, with the false promise of reimbursing them once they’ve gotten the situation sorted out acting as extra leverage.

The latest victim of such a scheme is an 84-year-old woman living in Tokyo’s Itabashi Ward, who was contacted on May 31 by a man who, during the mid-point of the conversation, claimed to be her eldest son. He explained that he’d misplaced a briefcase with an important work-related contract in it, and that he needed some money to make amends. He then sent another man claiming to be the woman’s son’s coworker to pick up two cash payments from her.

So far, this is all pretty standard “ore ore” scam stuff, though going back for a second cash score from the same mark is a pretty bold move. But what really makes this case stand out is the amount the woman was cheated out of, as the two bundles of cash she handed over totaled 82.5 million yen (US$757,000).

Unfortunately, the woman didn’t become suspicious until after handing over the second payment and parting ways with the “coworker,” She then called the man who’d claimed to be her son back and asked him what his grandparents’ names were, and it was only when he was unable to answer that she finally understood that she’d been bilked out of a fortune.

The police are now looking for the scam artists (or artist, as it’s unclear if the man who received the money is the same person as the man who called her), though no concrete leads have been announced. Hopefully they’ll be caught eventually, but in the meantime, let this serve as an example that as safe as Japan is, there are criminals here as well, and you should never hand over money, especially 80-plus million yen’s worth, to someone who only identifies himself as “me.”

Source: TBS News via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
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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
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Man arrested for living in elderly woman’s home unnoticed for half a year

Unidentified suspect is a modern-day ninja, using his powers for creepiness.

Earlier this week in the bustling city of Himeji in Hyogo Prefecture, a man paid a visit to his 90-year-old mother’s house and cooked her a meal. However during his time there his spry upper-middle-aged ears picked up a strange sound coming from the second floor that his mother’s had been unable to detect.

Walking up the steps and opening a door, he found a 20-year-old man, whom he had never seen before, sleeping on a futon. Holding back his shock, he quietly snuck back downstairs and called the emergency number 110.

Police quickly arrived at the home and woke up the young man before arresting him and taking him back to the station. The suspect has been uncooperative during interrogation, not even revealing his name to the authorities.

However, according to police he is believed to have first entered the woman’s home on 12 December at about 7:20 in the morning. This meant he probably lived there for about half a year to the day.

▼ Last winter was particularly snowy and cold for many parts of Japan.

He even allegedly left his shoes at the front entrance upon entering. The mother told police that she almost never went up to the second floor and doesn’t know the suspect at all.

Readers of the new were understandably creeped way out by the incident.

“Every night she went to sleep with someone else and she didn’t even know it. Gyagh!”
“I’m pretty worried about the woman if she didn’t notice this guy.”
“Maybe he thinks if he never speaks, they’ll keep him in prison forever.”
“At least they caught him before something bad happened. In a situation like that it seems almost certain something bad would have happened.”
“He probably went down and stole her food while she slept, just like a cockroach.”
“That’s both ridiculous and bone-chilling at the same time.”
“Why would that guy even go to the trouble?”

The man’s motives are somewhat mysterious. Japan is known to not have a stellar track-record with homelessness compared to other developed countries, but the private sectors has surprisingly pitched in, in the form of internet cafes which often act as de facto homeless shelters, especially for young people.

▼ Many charge pocket-change-level rates
and even come with free refreshments

In order to successfully squat in a home while someone else lived there too, he must have spent quite some time searching, planning, and casing places to know that the woman never went up to the second floor.

Without knowing what his intentions are, the charges remain at trespassing for the time being. But as one comment suggested, he might be just keeping quiet to prolong the three hot meals and a cot provided by his new jail cell home, so we shouldn’t expect any answers soon.

At the very least, this incident might remind us of the benefits pets can bring to elderly people living alone, not only to help keep them company, but to help stop creepy guys from infesting their homes.

Source: Sankei News West, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: SoraNews24

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

Japanese senior citizens, 63 and 71 years old, arrested for sickle-armed street fight

“Old enough to know better” loses out to “old enough to just not care” as two seniors slice each other with same weapon.

By and large, getting drunk and solving your problems with your fists is a young man’s way of doing things. Consider, for example, 63-year-old Chikai Tamura, who was out drinking at a restaurant in the town of Yukihashi, Fukuoka Prefecture last Friday night.

While at the establishment he became involved in a verbal altercation with another patron, an unnamed man who is eight years Tamura’s senior. But even after the pair (who were previous acquaintances) left the restaurant, Tamura decided against using his fists to settle their differences.

Unfortunately, he decided to use a sickle instead.

Reports don’t indicate whether Tamura happened to have the gardening tool on him while he was drinking at the restaurant or if he procured or retrieved it from somewhere after leaving. Either way, he swung the bladed instrument at the other man, striking him in the head.

However, the blow was not fatal, and the man, showing what must have been incredible determination, managed to wrestle the sickle away from Tamura. With the tables turned, the man counterattacked, swinging the weapon and slicing into Tamura’s leg. Doctors estimate Tamura’s wounds will take three weeks to heal, with the prognosis being one week for the man who was struck in the head.

When questioned about the incident, Tamura said that he merely intended to intimidate the man, telling investigators “I swung [the sickle] to threaten him, and ended up hitting him. I wasn’t trying to kill him.” The man also denied specifically wanting to inflict bodily harm, saying “I swiped [the sickle] in the direction of his leg, and wound up hitting him.”

The flimsy excuses weren’t enough to convince the police to let them off, however. The fact that a late-night sickle fight on Friday the 13th would make a fitting horror movie plot isn’t buying them any leniency, either, and the Fukuoka Prefectural Police have placed both men under arrest, charging Tamura with attempted murder and the other man with assault.

Source: Livedoor News/Yomiuri Online via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso