Toshie Kobayashi, 76, has been working six days a week, since she was 14 years old. As a highly skilled typesetter, she made a good living until the 1980s, when digital systems replaced her and analog typesetting machines. At 54, she registered with a cleaning service, and ever since then she has been mopping and sweeping and emptying garbage at department stores, publishers, insurance companies and so on. Currently, she works at a luxury high-rise in Tokyo. In her free time, she is an enthusiastic gourmet, and on most afternoons she can be found roaming department-store food sections, searching for tasty new treats.

There was a time when it was a shame to be single. I always told people that I stayed single because I had to take care of my parents, but that's not true. I just didn't want to be a housewife who cooks and stays at home.

Suicide kills more than one person. I still miss (the late Hong Kong singer/actor) Leslie Cheung. I saw him in concert twice and I waited for him outside Tokyo International Forum after a show. It was during the winter so it was very cold and he took a long time. My feet were frozen by the time his car finally appeared. I waved and he waved back and smiled at me.