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Sumida Tokyo

Mayumi Arashi: A Disappearance that Baffled Japanese Authorities

In 1994, a Japanese housewife named Mayumi Arashi, 27, left her home in Sumida, Tokyo, shortly after telling her sister, Yoko, that she was going to meet with a schoolmate. Mayumi had a one-year-old daughter, whom she left at home on September 2, 1994.

The next day, Yoko began to worry about her sister, as she hadn’t returned home yet. She called the classmate that Mayumi had purported to meet, but that student hadn’t seen her the previous day.

The case became more bizarre when Yoko found a memo in her wardrobe that was reportedly written by Mayumi. The memo included statements regarding “betrayal” and that Mayumi supposedly met with a different classmate that day. That person’s phone number was on the memo, which Yoko promptly called.

The person on the other end of the line claimed to have seen Mayumi the previous day, and cryptically stated that if Mayumi was dead, he hoped the punishment was prison time.

Investigation

Strangely, the investigation into Mayumi’s disappearance turned up scarce physical evidence. A private investigator hired to follow Mayumi’s classmate revealed that, in 1995, he was observed entering a densely wooded area with two drinks in his hands. When he returned, he was holding nothing.

In a 2011 interview for television, Yoko stated that she felt her sister might even still be alive. Her father, however, notes that the day she disappeared, it seemed as though something was bothering her immensely.

Eagle-eyed viewers noticed that, despite the man’s warm attitude towards his daughter, a note behind his head during the interview can be seen that reads “do not trust Yoko”.

What Happened?

The case has long fascinated internet sleuths, though it’s unclear what, exactly, may have happened to Mayumi. Why would she leave her husband and one-year-old daughter behind? If she was the victim of a crime, why is there no physical evidence from the last day she was seen? Why was the memo from her found after her disappearance, unless she knew she was never coming home?

Some have suggested that Mayumi may have used a little-known service that is unique to Japan: a disappearing agency. In Japan, it is estimated that some 100,000 people have voluntarily disappeared from their normal lives by using clandestine moving companies to relocate to a new life.

This is often due to the country’s uniquely honor-based culture, where disgrace can be seen as a fate worse than death.

In any event, Mayumi’s ultimate fate remains a mystery from her family and from the public. If anyone knows what happened to her on September 2, 1994, they’re staying quiet about it.

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Cameron Norris