Aera magazine last month told this story: A 39-year-old woman working in her Tokyo apartment was interrupted by a buzz from the interphone. The caller was furious. “Will you kindly stop pacing the floor like that all day long? Thud, thud, thud! It’s driving me crazy!”

The woman was astonished. Through the peephole she recognized the man living directly below her. She hadn’t been pacing, she said, she’d been working on her computer. “Don’t give me that!” the man barked.

Frightened, the woman hung up and called the building superintendent — who found that whatever noise the man had heard could not have come from her. Possibly it had come from another residence. Soundproof tape was applied to the relevant vents. But the woman’s peace was shattered. She hardly knows the man. Is he sane? One never knows. “If I’m found dead, he’s the one who did it,” she told friends, only half joking.