We all die alone, but some more than others
October 20, 2018 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Miyu Kojima cleans the apartments of those who have died alone. These lonely deaths (kodokushi) are often undiscovered for months, and the work is difficult and grim. But in her off hours she takes these experiences and turns them into art, memorializing the apartments she's cleaned in painstakingly constructed dioramas.
posted by serathen (10 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for this. I would like to see more of them.
But holy God, that last one made my skin crawl off my flesh. Be warned. There aren’t bodies in this pictures ... as such.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:17 PM on October 20, 2018 [6 favorites]

There's also a documentary that covers Kojima and her company's work, but be warned that it is pretty disturbing in parts.
posted by serathen at 3:18 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Previously and Previously
posted by zinon at 3:38 PM on October 20, 2018

Just over a year ago, my friend Marika died alone in her apartment and was not found for three days or so. She was diabetic and an alcoholic, had been so unwell as to be nearly housebound for awhile, and then one day she slipped into a coma, had a heart attack, and died. She was discovered on October 13th, 2017, which would have been her 51st birthday, after her father became alarmed when she didn't answer the door when he came by with a birthday cake for her. Her official date of death was therefore October 13th, but we think she died on the 10th. So I've been in an apartment that was something like one of these dioramas: somewhat messy and grubby though Marika was one to keep her place in excellent order when she was well, with a horrible stain on the couch and the floor beside it, and an atrocious odour pervading the three rooms. One of Marika's friends works as a house painter, and he first learned of Marika's death when he was booked to repaint a rental unit where someone had died and showed up at the address on the appointed day to discover that it was Marika's apartment.

I can't imagine turning from the work of cleaning such places to a hobby of recreating them, but I suppose it's different when you don't know the people and such work must have an impact on one. And I suppose my takeaway from this post is that we should all look out for those around us, as any one could come to such an end.
posted by orange swan at 4:14 PM on October 20, 2018 [19 favorites]

Beat me to it!

Here's a story about her from Al Jazeera: The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

And here's a picture that was left out of the article: littered kitchen detail.

(p.s.—needs MementoMoriOctober tag ;) )
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:05 PM on October 20, 2018

orange swan, I'm very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your experience.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:24 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've been rewatching Dead Like Me and it evokes many of the same feelings as this. We are so stupidly frail and so easily slip out of sight.
posted by emjaybee at 11:09 PM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

Is it possible "lonely deaths' is a cultural concept projected by those not dead?
posted by Mesaverdian at 10:21 AM on October 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston is an interesting take on this field.
posted by DaddyNewt at 12:15 PM on October 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is something I worry about, sometimes, being a single woman without a lot of friends.
posted by silverandlilac at 1:06 PM on October 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

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