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The Companies That Help People Vanish

All over the world, from the US to Germany to the UK, some people decide to disappear from their own lives without a trace--leaving their homes, jobs, and families in the middle of the night to start a second life, often without ever looking back.

In Japan, these people are sometimes referred to as jouhatsu. That’s the Japanese word for “evaporation,” but it also refers to people who vanish on purpose into thin air, and continue to conceal their whereabouts--potentially for years, even decades.

42-year-old Sugimoto said, “I got fed up with human relationships. I took a small suitcase and disappeared. I just kind of escaped.” From inescapable debt to loveless marriages, the motivations that push jouhatsu to “evaporate” can vary. Regardless of their reasons, they turn to companies that help them through the process. These operations are called “night moving” services, a nod to the secretive nature of becoming a jouhatsu. They help people who want to disappear discreetly remove themselves from their lives, and can provide lodging for them in secret whereabouts.

Sho Hatori, who founded a night-moving company, says “Normally, the reason for moving is something positive, like entering university, getting a new job or a marriage. But there’s also (other reasons), like dropping out of university, losing a job, or escaping from a stalker … What we did was support people to start a second life.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

Adversity; Hardship; Escape - Life has trials, challenges, hurts and wounds that make us want to run away and escape. While people may not literally vanish, we do have other ways of isolating, hiding, or escaping from our pain and challenges.


Andreas Hartman, adapted by Bryan Lufkin, “The companies that help people vanish,” BBC Worklife (9-3-20)

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