Miyu Kojima cleans rooms, but she's unlike any cleaner that you know.
You see, Kojima works for a company that specializes in cleaning up after kodushi or lonely deaths. In this increasingly common Japanese phenomenon, due to increased isolation and an aging population, someone had died alone - and often remaining undiscovered for a long period of time.
At first, Miyu found the work tough. The scenes could be grotesque. Even after the body has been removed, hair and seepage from the corpse sometimes remain. The work can be physically demanding. But "what I find most difficult," she explains, "is to talk to the family. I don't know how much I can really ask or talk."
When someone dies of kodokushi, she says there's a sense of daily life that lingers. It's harder cleaning a house "where someone has been murdered or someone killed themselves", she adds, explaining that the air feels heavier in such places.
Partly to help her cope and partly as a public service to help spotlight the plight of isolated people, Kojima had turned to art. Now, she creates miniature dioramas of the rooms that she had cleaned.
From Spoon & Tamago:
To preserve and document the scene, the company always takes photographs of the rooms in case relatives want to see them. However, Kojima noticed that the photographs really don’t capture the sadness of the incident. And while she had no formal art training, she decided to go to her local craft store and buy supplies, which she used to create her replicas. She sometimes uses color-copies of the photographs, which she then sculpts into miniature objects.Kojima says that she spends about 1 month on each replica.
(Photo: Naoko Kawamura/Asahi News)