This woman has seen some sh*t… literally.
When someone without friend, family, or a job dies, their body might not be found for months. And quite often, someone in that position suffered from severe mental illness, meaning that when the corpse is eventually found, the room it’s in might be in just as bad shape.
These “death rooms” are unfortunately becoming less rare in Japan, where real estate companies often offer them at a huge discount. But before the room can be put back on the market, there’s an important job to take care of: cleaning it up.
Miwa Kojima, an employee of ToDo-Company, one such post-death cleanup company, has personally helped clean over 300 “death rooms.” At the recently-held End-of-Life Industry Exhibition in Tokyo, she showed off some miniature replicas of “death rooms” that she’d created, based on sites that she’d helped clean.
Here’s a glimpse of what she’s seen:
▼ Oh god… that bathtub, the stains on the futon, just imagining
the smell is enough make you gag. (Click pictures to enlarge.)
孤独死の現場を再現したミニチュアを、遺品整理会社の25歳女性が制作。数カ月遺体が放置された浴室やゴミ屋敷など、鬼気迫るリアリティー。 「孤独死」「ゴミ屋敷」ミニチュアで再現 25歳女性が込めた思い - withnews… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…—
神庭亮介 (@kamba_ryosuke) August 27, 2017
▼ Here’s some closer-up images of the garbage, so you can see the
incredible detail that went into crafting these horrific scenes.
「孤独死・ゴミ屋敷」一番アートから遠いものをアートにしてしまうなんて、やられました。 #エンディング産業2017 https://t.co/nTk95YvfP3—
Mah(マー)/Masayo Ogawa (@JETTSETT666) August 25, 2017
When asked why they showed off these miniatures at the exhibition, ToDo-Company said that they wanted to show off what the rooms these people died in really looked like. Just using photos isn’t enough, it removes a dimension from the experience. They felt that being able to see the literal depth of the garbage, even if it was a miniature version, was much more impactful.
Again, all three of the miniatures seen here were based on real rooms that Kojima had helped clean. For example, in the bathtub room, the resident had died while in the tub, and by the time their body was discovered two months later (during which time the water had been kept warm), the skin had been boiled like meat in a pot. When the corpse was removed, the flesh came sliding right off the bones and stuck to the tub.
For the room piled with trash, she said that in addition to the food garbage and other trash, there was also human waste stored in empty water bottles and plastic convenience store bags. For the stained futon room, she said that the old man who’d died there hadn’t been discovered until the water company became suspicious that no water had been used in the apartment… five months after he’d died.
Taking so long to discover “death rooms” when people die alone is common, but she also said they’ve had cases of family members living together and not discovering a dead body for up to two months in especially dysfunctional households.
As horrific as these stories are, hearing them makes it clear that ToDo-Company and other “death room” cleanup companies are providing an important service. It would be horrible to ask family members to take care of situations like these, and in some cases, actually impossible if the deceased has no family.
Reading about these “death room” cleaners has put the process of dying in a new perspective. It may not be a pleasant thought, but it’s easy to take for granted having people who care about us and who will discover us shortly after we die, and not one month after we get crushed under six tons of our own erotic magazines. It’s sad that not everyone has someone like that in their lives, and those of us who do should all take a moment to realize how fortunate we are.