People have a habit of vanishing in Japan—even hundreds of years ago, it happened often enough that myths were created to explain these sudden disappearances. 神隠し (kamikakushi)–to be hidden by the gods. Even now, every year over 80,000 people are reported missing. And that may be the tip of the iceberg–because only family members can make those reports. If your girlfriend, high-school buddy, co-worker just evaporates one day–you can go to the police but unless you can prove foul play, they may not even open a file on the case.
There are so many types of missing people in Japan, that there are different words used to describe them. But unfortunately, defining a vanishing doesn’t make people rematerialize.
Even now, every year over 80,000 people are reported missing in Japan. And that may be the tip of the iceberg
If someone you knew and loved went missing one day – with no warning, no explanation, and no evidence – who would you turn to in order to find the truth?
If you were the one looking for that person, what would you do if you found out an entire infrastructure exists, designed for the express purpose of helping people — like your loved one — vanish into thin air?
Would you try to find someone who doesn’t want to be found? Would you judge the person for disappearing in the first place? Would you enroll in private eye school?
Who else has gone missing … and why?
神隠し/Gone With The Gods will be a multi-faceted deep dive into the phenomenon of Japan’s johatsu, or “evaporated people” — citizens who choose to just vanish from their lives–and those who do so without a choice. Some of the “evaporated” are escaping dire circumstances (debt, abuse, threats of violence), but others are ashamed of how their lives have turned out, or shackled by conformity. They want to start over. And in Japan, there’s a way. It’s a cultural phenomenon.
But it might also be the ultimate cover up. Jake Adelstein, author of Tokyo Vice, The Last Yakuza, and I Sold My Soul For Bitcoins joins forces with Shoko Plambeck, model, actress and former journalist lured back into the trade by the promise of solving some great mysteries of her homeland. And of course, sound engineer/journalist and aspiring private detective, Thisanka Siripala. Together they will take you on a midnight escape into the shadows of the rising sun. We consult experts, ex-yakuza, retired police officers, the employers of the missing, and talk to those who decided to vanish and those that helped them do it.
Paul Simon once sang, “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” but in Japan there are more than “50 Ways To Leave This World” and manuals that will show you the way. But they can also teach people how to make someone vanish and never be found. We’ll explain how that works as well.
This podcast will be brought to you Campside Media, “The New Yorker of True-Crime Podcasts” who produced critically praised works like Suspect, Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen
Is there someone in your life, in Japan, who has vanished without a trace or even with a trace, but can no longer be found? Share your story with us at Gone@campsidemedia.com