There are quite a lot of people who choose to leave their lives without leaving a trace. They leave their jobs, homes, and families at the end of the night to begin another life, sometimes with no regrets. In Japan, such people are often referred to by the name “jouhatsu.”
This is the Japanese word that means “evaporation”. However, it also refers to those who disappear on purpose and then remain in hiding, possibly for years or even for years.
“I got fed up with human relationships. I took a small suitcase and disappeared,” says 42-year-old Sugimoto (family name). “I just kind of escaped.”
In his hometown, everyone knew him due to his family and the famous local business, which Sugimoto had to continue. However, the responsibility of carrying on that business on him caused him so much anxiety that he decided to leave town for good and never told one about where the next place he would be going.
The reasons why someone would want to abandon their years of effort and “evaporate” can vary from person to person. Unless it’s something illegal, they usually turn towards organizations that help them disappear. These institutions are typically called “night-moving” services. They provide the facilities one would require to secretly remove themselves from their current lives and start somewhere secret.
As every side has two stories, jouhatsu leave behind their loved ones who often spend a lot of time and money searching for them. A mother still searches for her 22-year-old son, who left abruptly one day and hasn’t returned. “He failed after quitting his job twice. He must have felt miserable with his failure.” His mother went to his residence, waited in the car for days, and looked around the neighborhood just in hopes that he’d show up.
And since this doesn’t involve any suicide notes, the police are pretty hesitant to help her, and her cries to them have been unfruitful. She doesn’t have a big stash of cash lying around to hire a private detective, so she’s hopeless and asks if the only thing she could do is wait for a dead body to check if it’s of his son.
As for Jouhatsu, those who disappear out of nowhere, there is a sense of guilt for abandoning their family. Not being able to see their kids grow up, leaving their partner on their own to raise the kids, the life after “evaporating” isn’t all fun and games.
Mr. Sugimoto regrets leaving his family. He hasn’t seen his kids for a year and lied to them that he’s on a business trip. He took the help of a company run by Saita (family name). She says she, too, ran away about 17 years ago because of a physically abusive relationship.
She says her clientele usually have people who try to run away from severe violence, parents, or self-interest. She doesn’t decline her clients, mostly as everyone has different struggles.
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