Inside the Industry of Companies Helping People Vanish

Japan's "night moving" companies may be the most prominent example

Would you disappear from your life if you could?
Viktor Talashuk/Unsplash

Hopefully, you’ve never been tempted to simply vanish from your own life — disappearing without a trace, leaving behind a group of very confused friends and/or family. The reasons why disappearing from your own life is a bad idea are countless, and they range from the impractical to the emotionally harmful. But if you’re dead set on vanishing from your old life and starting anew, it turns out there are some companies that specialize in guiding you through the process.

A new article at the BBC explores the phenomenon of Japan’s version of this phenomenon. Known as “jouhatsu,” the Japanese word meaning “evaporation,” these people segue out of their old lives for prolonged periods of time — and possibly for good. And there’s a small industry of businesses that have come into being to assist with the process.

The businesses in question are known as “night moving” companies due to the furtive nature of their work. The founder of one such business, Sho Hatori, offered some context on why someone would seek out such a service.

“Normally, the reason for moving is something positive, like entering university, getting a new job or a marriage,” he said. “But there’s also sad moving — for example, like dropping out of university, losing a job or escaping from a stalker.”

The article also quotes sociologist Hiroki Nakamori, who argues that it’s easier to vanish from one’s own life in Japan than it is in similar countries. It’s a complex situation — but it’s also one that’s created its own distinctive industry around it.

Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.