Homeless stories from Tokyo. By Drew Cox. 2009.
The area of Sanya, located in the Taito ward of Tokyo, is home to one of the largest populations of homeless people or 'Furousha' in the city of Tokyo. Throughout Tokyo's history, the area now called Sanya, located in the east of Tokyo was a no go area, and during the Edo period was where prisoners were sent to be executed. The modern Sanya was created after World War II, when Tokyo's homeless were sheltered there in the ever growing number of blue refuge tents. The area is now a eclectic, bustling network of local faces, artists, travelers, hippies and those people that do not want to been found.
Many wondering souls roam the quiet rustic streets. Outcast and neglected from society, many of these individuals have found refuge in many areas around the parks and train stations of the city, but seem primarily to have found solice and some sense of community in this unique oasis of Tokyo. Where many of them, previous day laborers, came to seek work. Government estimates put the total number of people sleeping on the streets at well over 300 people every night, just in the Sanya area.
The one strip of road, running near Minami Senju train station, is completely over run with people sleeping rough, primarily men but also a few women. Often a couple hundred people gather under the shelter of the old arcade shopping strip, overlooked by a constant police presence.
Most of the people I met, were all very friendly, hospitable and accommodating, but had given up an existence within formal society, for whatever their individual reasons. Alcohol abuse is high and mental illness and sickness seem to be a large problem due to their choice of lifestyle.
There are a few organizations providing support, primarily government subsidiaries, NGO's, local christian aids and charities who periodically provide soup kitchens, hand out blankets and clothing and try their best to cope with the ever increasing number of people fleeing to the streets.
The problem is a largely neglected issue in Japan which just seems to be completely overlooked by the government and swept beneath the ever growing blanket of the current recession.