Every year, thousands of Japanese men and women vanish without a trace.

They are known as the "johatsu", or evaporated people, and they engineer their own disappearances.

Without warning, they leave behind loved ones who are left searching for answers.

Tsuyoshi Miyamoto's brother Naoki was 24 when he disappeared after boarding a ferry in the Port of Tokyo 17 years ago. He has never been seen since.

"We all thought he went to work. Then we found out that he had actually quit his job," says Tsuyoshi.

The desire to disappear has become so common in Japan that there are now specialised businesses, known as "night-moving agents", which help people vanish.

We follow Miho Saita, who owns a night-moving company, as she helps a woman who is desperate to escape her abusive husband.

In less than two hours, workers help pack up the wife and her children's belongings, taking them to a new house in a new city.

Others decide to vanish for different reasons.

Sugimoto describes how he engineered his own disappearance with the help of a night-moving agent after his family business began experiencing money problems. He left his house one morning as if he was going to work.

"I got tired of human relationships and I just escaped this place," he says.

Sugimoto left behind a wife and three children.

"I was very worried about my children. It was hard leaving them behind."

101 East investigates Japan's evaporated people.

Source: Al Jazeera