90,000 Yen Calligraphy Paper and 190,000 Yen Vintage Gaming Console Sold Prior to Parental Loss | FRIDAY DIGITAL

90,000 Yen Calligraphy Paper and 190,000 Yen Vintage Gaming Console Sold Prior to Parental Loss

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Spring marks the beginning of new life. With moves or changes in environment, one might start to worry about the size of their living space. Yet, it’s the family home, left untouched for years, that becomes daunting to tidy up. It’s said that the cost of tidying up the family home ranges from tens of thousands to a million yen. To avoid substantial costs, cultivating tidying habits from day to day is essential.

“Age is irrelevant when it comes to starting pre-death arrangements,” says Kensuke Shibata, also known as Shiba-kun, who works for a company specializing in estate and pre-death arrangements as well as hoarding cleanup in the Kanto region, while also performing as part of the comedy duo Rokusanshiku. Shibata has gained attention for his contributions to radio, social media, and appearances at events such as those hosted by Shuichi Takizawa of the comedy duo Machine Guns, where he delivers lectures and discusses topics such as reuse and social issues. 

Photo: Yutaka Matsushima

Determining Whether to Undertake Pre-death Arrangements or Posthumous Estate Clearing

Even if you are having a hard time organizing your prenatal care, there may be a solution to your problem in a surprising way.

“It’s often assumed that making some level of organization while parents are alive makes cleanup easier after they pass away. However, in some cases, posthumous estate clearing may be more suitable. The relationship between parent and child is crucial when it comes to tidying up the family home. Factors such as the quality of the parent-child relationship, the presence of siblings, the parent’s assets, their willingness to tidy up, and the proximity of the family home all play a role in determining whether pre-death arrangements are necessary or not.

For instance, when the relationship with parents is strained and they have assets, the choice between pre-death arrangements or posthumous estate clearing can be made based on the parent’s willingness to tidy up. However, if the relationship with parents is poor, there are no assets, the family home is distant, and furthermore, the parents have no intention of tidying up, it might be wise to consider posthumous estate clearing instead of pushing for pre-death arrangements.

When parents have no intention of tidying up and you try to tackle it anyway, they might just throw in the towel and just forget it. It can become stressful for both parties and leave them mentally and physically exhausted. In the worst-case scenario, it could even lead to the severing of the parent-child relationship. Conversely, when the parent-child relationship is good and there are funds available, things are more likely to progress smoothly.”

When the relationship with parents is poor and there are no assets or inheritance involved, posthumous estate clearing seems to be the smoother option.

“Unless you’re dealing with extremely unscrupulous businesses, they’ll help you find the necessary legal documents and bankbooks required for inheritance. In such cases where they say that they don’t need any cherished photos or anything, posthumous estate clearing is significantly faster. If the child knows where the important documents are stored, it’s just a matter of tidying up unnecessary items, so the whole process can usually be completed in about a day.” 

Whether it’s pre-death arrangements or posthumous estate clearing, the most time-consuming aspect is organizing memories. When the relationship with parents is good, pre-death arrangements provide an opportunity to effectively cherish memories.

“I personally believe that pre-death arrangements are beneficial. It allows parents and children to reminisce while sorting through belongings, saying things like it is the hat their dad used to wear. The family home accumulates memories of the past. By excavating these memories and deciding whether to discard them or repurpose them for reuse, we can selectively preserve the memories that matter.”

The Key to Pre-death Arrangements Without Conflict with Parents Lies in Transfer of Ownership

The primary catalyst for prenatal care is often relocation. Leaving a home where one has lived for years can be challenging, but pre-death arrangements come with many benefits.

“For those who have financial flexibility and parental understanding, I recommend relocation. Moving to a room of suitable size for the number of people necessitates reducing the amount of belongings to be carried. If you own the property you’re moving from, it’s a perfect opportunity to discuss inheritance matters. It allows for a tidy up of belongings, and personally, I think moving to a facility with care services provides peace of mind.”

However, moving itself is not an easy task. We asked Mr. Shibata about his unique method of cleaning up without having to relocate and without having to deal with his parents.

“Parents often wish for others to make use of the items they receive as gifts. In such cases, individuals may reclaim unused items from their parents. For instance, they might request a gift blanket or towel by asking if they could have that and gradually place more and more items received from their parents in the room they once occupied as children at their parents’ home. This process effectively transfers ownership of these belongings to themselves. Consequently, when their parents pass away, they can independently decide what to do with the items in that room.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that gift blankets, when individually listed on Mercari, can sell for as little as 1 yen each. It would be beneficial if flea market apps like this were more user-friendly for the elderly. Furthermore, knowing that items can be sold rather than discarded also facilitates the process of letting go for the older generation.”

Having witnessed numerous scenes of posthumous estate clearing, Shibata-san asserts that age is not a factor when it comes to starting pre-death arrangements.

“Pre-death arrangements aren’t something you start when you’re already old. If you have the awareness to undertake pre-death arrangements, the timing to begin is whenever. However, it’s difficult to encourage elderly individuals to think this way. If you’re approaching parents in their 70s or 80s, when you realize the need for tidying up, first confirm if they have the intention for pre-death arrangements.”

The Surprisingly High Prices of Moldy Calligraphy Paper and Other Junk Items

In many households, commonly discarded items like tableware are treated as regular waste, incurring disposal costs. When looking to dispose of unwanted items, one seeks to minimize expenses.

“When you buy blocks, you should think that you will never be able to part with them. We have no choice but to purchase items with the disposal of the waste in mind. Blocks and bricks are also dumping waste, so they cost money to dispose of. 

There are cases where you can get a service fee waiver by selling unwanted items to a company. Items like VCRs and recorders are often discarded as bulky waste, but since collectors exist, even junk items can fetch a price. One such consistently valuable item is Sony’s portable player. The first generation can sometimes fetch prices in the tens of thousands.”, as Takizawa from the comedy duo Machine Guns. 

Sometimes, the clutter lying around at home might turn out to be a treasure.

“When you think something might fetch a good price, selling it on Mercari or Yahoo Auctions is your best bet. Even if you don’t know the details of the item, just posting a photo and mentioning the model number will usually suffice for interested buyers. The most impressive flip I’ve ever experienced was with partially used calligraphy paper covered in mold. I was about to throw it away, but when I put it up for auction, it sold for 90,000 yen! Also, a Pokémon-themed limited edition NINTENDO64 game console sold for 190,000 yen. If you think something might be valuable, it’s worth giving auctions a try.”

A Solitary Death of a Man in the House of Trash

The memories of unmanageable cleanup scenarios shared by Mr. Shibata were cases beyond imagination.

“There was a man living in a hoarder’s house who had a passion for motorcycles, and there were many helmets. When the workers reached for a helmet towards the back, it turned out to be a human skull. Naturally, the operation was halted, and the police were called.”

Based on Shibata-san’s cleaning experience, it’s advisable to conduct pre-death organization by one’s own hands.

“My late father was a strict and boring man. But when I cleaned up, I found a lot of adult videos in his sack. It is better to clean up such things before his death so that there will be no embarrassment later.”

It seems that in order to get off to a good start in life, it would be a good idea to start by cleaning up your personal belongings.

[PROFILE] Kensuke Shibata was born on September 25, 1985 in Hokkaido. He co-founded the comedy duo “Roku Roku San Roku” in 2007 and has since been active primarily in comedy live performances. Alongside his comedy career, he is also affiliated with a company that specializes in pre-death arrangement organization, inheritance clearance, and hoarding cleanup. Additionally, he collaborates with comedian Gurinpisu Ochiai form a unit called “Okatsumi Brothers,” which helps sort and clean up trash in accordance with the community and provides reuse support. Known by the nickname “Okatsumi Shibata-kun,” they share information on social networking sites and through lectures.

Groping for unwanted trash around the edges Photo: Courtesy of the owner
Mr. Shibata’s company also sorts the garbage in his home.
The key to keeping one’s room clean is to “only have enough storage space for what you have,” which is also useful for organizing before one’s death.
  • Interview and text Zene Ikemori Photographs Yutaka Matsushima (1st and 4th photos), courtesy of the artist (2nd and 3rd photos)

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