An unlit house sits empty at dusk in a suburb of Tokyo, its surrounding garden completely overgrown with dense vegetation that hasn’t been cut back in years.

It’s a scene that can be found in many parts of Japan, as the number of akiya (abandoned buildings) swells to worrying levels nationwide.

In 2018, these structures — the result of unsustainable growth for several decades followed by sharp demographic decline — totaled 8.5 million units, or 14% of Japan’s overall housing stock, according to government figures. The Nomura Research Institute has estimated that this figure could exceed 30% by 2033.