Saturday, August 18, 2007

Pedestrian Tunnel, Shinjuku

This tunnel passes between Shinjuku Station, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. The lipstick-shaped protrusions in front of this display of designer sunglasses may look like offbeat modern art decoration, but their purpose is actually to prevent anyone from lying down there (like the railings placed strategically in the middle of park benches). A nearby park has long been a base for those with no other place to live, though they are periodically subjected to government "clean up" actions.

There is a tremendous dignity among Japan's homeless people, despite the ways they are often treated. Communities are often formed with a certain division of labor where each contributes in the way they can, finding resources, cooking rice, etc., to the benefit of the group. There is no begging.

In Tokyo there are also the day laborers, who line up each morning for whatever part time work might be available. For a fascinating, scrupulously unsentimental yet moving look at the lives of those in this world, the book, "A Man With No Talents: Memoirs of a Tokyo Day Laborer" is highly recommended. The author, Oyama Shiro (a pseudonym), actually had been a financially comfortable company employee before giving in to his avowed dislike for conformity and social obligation, and choosing to drop out of that life. On a whim he submitted the manuscript for Japan's prestigious Kaiko Takeshi literary prize and won. Still, he has kept his anonymity.


Post a Comment

<< Home