In support of 'the Gomi Yashiki man'...some reflections on Hoarding and Squalor in Japan.

If you Google 'Hoarding Disorder and Japan', as I did when I needed to explain to a Japanese native what we do, you come up with articles like this one:

It seems from the outside looking in that if you are challenged with a Hoarding Disorder or are living in Squalid conditions within your home or even out onto the pavement as the last person in the article above is then you are likely to be isolated even further by a huge "Shaming Factor" built into the community culture.

As the origin of Zen like interiors, roll up beds and authors such as the gal of all things that 'Spark of Great Joy' Marie Kondo and Fumio Sasaki’s with his “Goodbye, Things” (Japanese title: “Bokutachini Mo Monowa Hitsuyo Nai”) a country where order, tidyness and self control are paramount, it is rather sadly ironic and yet in keeping with world trends that they also fell head over heels in love with materialism in the 50's and highly value material wealth as a sign of prosperity and success. In online publication Japan Today we see "Kondo attempt(ing) to solve this conundrum by advising consumers to keep only items that “spark joy." and ”Yamashita warn(ing) of the danger of adopting a mottainai mind-set, arguing that it can easily lead to hoarding and unmanageable clutter." Along then comes people, ordinary homosapiens - basically the same the world over - away from faith, meaningful lives and right livihoods and you suddently get a percentage of those same Japanese folk often in their later years of life who instead spend their lives struggling to do anything other than grabbing for every new pretty thing in the stores, collecting, holding on, keeping and satisfying their need to feel that endorphin rush, to feel less wasteful, to hold on to it because it has value all of its own or find uses for it all some day.

It's these people who would be most affected by 'shaming', disempowered and crumpled under their neighbours gaze and who we pray for and in a new Oseibo like tradition in which people send a gift to those whom they feel thankful for at a different time of the year, I feel thank ful today that there are those who recognise that there is hope for a new day for these people. In September last year, Japan Times reported that the "Environment Ministry plans to compile guidelines for municipalities from fiscal 2018 to deal with the issue of people keeping more pets than they can handle" boding well for similar guidelines for those challenged by hoarding disorders and other mental health impairments. A start on the journey out of shame and into the light.

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