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

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

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

Japanese convenience stores showing “hardening of society” with touch-screen age verification?

Seniors especially irked by the mechanical process, but most people agree it’s kind of pointless anyway.

Walking into most major convenience stores in Japan, and buying either cigarettes or alcohol will put you face-to-face with the ultimate in security to prevent minors from acquiring these forbidden fruits. It comes in the form of a touchscreen display on the register that prompts the customer to touch “OK” if they are indeed over the age of 20.

Failure to do so would end the transaction and touching “OK” would make the customer a “liar-liar” and their pants would thus become “on fire”…or so I’m told. Even if that doesn’t hold true, these buttons also have the magical ability to transfer legal liability away from the store in the event something is sold to a minor.

In other words, it’s pretty much okay for minors to buy tobacco and alcohol products as long as they go on record as lying to do so, and everyone is happy. Last year, we sent our greying 40-year-old reporter Mr. Sato undercover as one of those dang teenagers and discovered that it certainly was easy for “them” to buy tobacco.

▼ He listened to Twenty One Pilots for hours on end to get into character.

However, while this may be great news for juvenile delinquents and other naughty nellies alike, there is one segment of the population who are none to happy with the system: seniors.

Of course there’s the annoyance of constantly being asked confirm your age when you are clearly over 20. But more importantly, this automated age-verification system has become so commonplace that the purchase of a can of beer is usually accompanied by the clerk grunting and half-hardheartedly gesturing to the screen while hardly even glancing at the customer. It’s what columnist Masahiko Katsuya is calling a major lack of communication on the part of the store and a sign of the “hardening of society” on the whole.

After the topic was raised by media in Japan, comments from those old enough to never be mistaken for a teenager have ranged from mild amusement to irritation.

“I usually snap at the clerk, ‘Is it possible for someone underage to be bald and have wrinkles?!’”
“I tell them, ‘I look THAT young? Thank you!’”
“It’s really annoying but I just want to get my beer and get out of there so I play along.”

Meanwhile, younger netizens stood up for the touchscreen system or at the very least felt it was a non-issue.

“If they hate the touch screen so much, then they should just buy their alcohol and cigarettes at a supermarket.”
“It’s better this way so they don’t discriminate against anyone.”
“These annoyed old people are still going to be annoyed if they’re verbally asked their age.”
“It always looks like I’m about to enter an adult website when that screen pops up.”
“I’m so conditioned to it, I reach for it even when I’m just buying snacks.”

Sadly for the older generation, this dehumanization of convenience stores is only beginning. The major chains have all stated their intentions to operate without cashiers in the very near future to save costs.

▼ Sadly, this would give our writers one less person to harass.

The stage is already being set. Investments are being made in microchips cheap enough that they can be placed in stores’ items for automatic ringing up and payment. Also, as a young commenter pointed out, this age verification button seems to have the convenient side effect of further reducing human interaction and thereby conditioning us so that the friendly clerk will not be as missed when the time comes.

But while it appears inevitable, the fact that the elderly are now a huge chunk of the Japanese population means their purchasing power cannot be ignored. As the comments also mentioned, if they don’t like the way convenience stores are handling customer service, their money going elsewhere will speak louder than their words ever will. Luckily, with supermarkets and vending machines there are no shortages of places to buy liquor and smokes in Japan.

Source: News Post Seven, Itai News
Images: SoraNews24