Has 2020 left you feeling blue? Are you having problems at work or home? If you’ve answered yes to either of these questions, it may be time to write to @sayodetectiveagency on Instagram.

Reportedly run by a 9-year old girl named “Sayo,” the detective agency offers creative solutions to tricky problems faced by adults and kids alike. Readers who submit inquiries via email receive a reply written in pencil on a sheet of paper that is photographed and subsequently uploaded onto the site. Sayo made her debut on Instagram in 2019 and, later that same year, published a book titled “Konnichiwa! Sayo Fushigi Tanteisha Desu!” (“Hello! This is Sayo’s Magical Detective Agency!”). It’s a slim, 56-page book priced at ¥770, and comes with Sayo’s personal slogan sticker, “Ditch that boring life!”

Sayo’s nuggets of wisdom gained traction over the pandemic summer when a number of people sought solace in her handwritten Instagram replies.

In one example of a pressing adult problem, a reader writes: “I love going to hot-spring resorts, but I have a tattoo and I’m always being chased out of the sauna. What should I do?”

“You should get a tattoo that says, ‘I would love to relax in an onsen,” Sayo replied.

Another reader said they couldn’t stand their boss, and asked if Sayo had any ideas on how to combat such ill-feelings?

“You should fold one origami crane for every time the boss ticks you off,” she responded. When you have 1,000 cranes, present them all to your boss with a heartfelt, ‘Thanks for everything, hope you stay well.’”

For all her Insta-celebrity status, Sayo remains shrouded in anonymity. Her mother (also anonymous) helps to manage and curate the account and, so far, there’s no indication that Sayo will ever make a physical appearance.

Apparently, Sayo is now inundated with letters and, since she doesn’t have the time to go through all of them (after all, she does still have to attend school and stuff!), she picks letters at random and uploads her replies a few times a week.

Most of Sayo’s fans are adults, and many have written in to say how much they appreciate her online detective agency.

“Sayo’s solutions are so on the mark, they’re breathtaking,” one reader told Itmedia. In other instances, Sayo’s replies can be short and to the point.

“I need to slim down! How can I do that?” one reader asked. “Just lose weight,” Sayo replied.

“I need a job that pays loads of money,” another reader asked. “There is no such job,” Sayo replied, somewhat knowingly.

It’s worth noting that, in 2020, parents got to spend a lot more time with their children than in previous years — perhaps more so than at any other period in the nation’s history. In the process, adults and children got to know each other a little better.

According to a survey conducted by fnn.jp, more than 40% of respondents said that parent-child relations had improved during the pandemic.

“I got to see how much my children had grown,” said one respondent. “Before the pandemic, I didn’t have time to notice things like that.”

“We played board and card games together and I was surprised that I didn’t have to lose on purpose,” another added. “The children had their own strategies for winning, all mapped out.”

“We talk and laugh a lot more than we used to,” a third reader said.

In December, Twitter user @gorillamama posted her 10-year old’s son’s schoolwork, explaining that her child had written “I’m alive” in response to his teacher’s request that everyone in the class outline their positive characteristics.

“I told my son, this is great,” @gorillamama said, and the post immediately went viral. So far, the post has received more than 2.5 million likes and many wrote to say that they were struck by the power and simplicity of the child’s words.

Maybe children such as this young boy and Sayo have inspired adults to make things a little better for the younger generation.

As a glimpse of what can be expected in the years ahead, the Ministry of Education and Science announced late last year it will reduce classroom sizes to no more than 35 pupils.

The standard 40-pupil classroom has been under fire in Japan for decades, but it has taken a pandemic to implement a more spacious and socially distant learning environment, designed to encourage far more individualism and freedom.

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