The other faces of Tokyo January 18, 2007Posted by fukumimi in Japan, Society.
Adamu at Mutant Frog shows us an aerial photograph (courtesy of Google Maps) of Nishinari Park in Osaka, home to a robust community of homeless people in Osaka.
He goes on to say:
The homeless culture is one of the unique aspects of Osaka that gives the city some flavor, and it’s too bad that city officials can’t recognize it as such.
Just to point out that Osaka doesn’t have a monopoly of homeless people, a quick alternative tour of Tokyo:
Fancy living in the middle of a wood which comprises part of 133 acres of parkland in the middle of Tokyo? Within walking distance to both Shinjuku and Shibuya! If you do, this may be for you.
Location: south west corner of Yoyogi Park, between Shibuya and Shinjuku, and just around the corner from some very exclusive residential neighbourhoods in Shibuya Ward. (including the apartment where that 32 year old wife killed her 30 year old husband. She then cut him up and dumped his headless upper torso in Shinjuku, his lower limbs just around the corner from home, and buried his head in a park in Machida, taking his head (I assume in a non-transparent bag of some sort) with her on an Odakyu-line train.
Or perhaps you would prefer a riverside location?
Location: Sumida River, by Kototoi Bridge. In fact, along the whole stretch of the river from Shirahige Bridge-Komagata Bridge-Azuma Bridge-Kototoi Bridge-Sakura Bridge-Umaya Bridge, a distance of about 5km or so, you can see a row of makeshift homes pretty much all the way. (just try scrolling along the river. Many of the blue sheet tents on the east side are obscured by the elevated highway (route 6) running along the east bank)
That is apart from the area around Sakura Bridge, which is a pedestrian bridge built allegedly to connect the two parts of Sumida Parks on each bank – belonging to Sumida Ward (which also seems to have a healthy population of tents on the east) and Taito Ward on the west.
Sakura Bridge apparently cost JPY2.83Billion to build (back in 1985)……
That is about $25M at today’s exchange rates, and a little over $10M at 1985 exchange rates – don’t ask me how much that is in today’s money, but it sure sounds like a lot of money for a pedestrian footbridge to connect two parks, especially when there is another bridge just a few hundred yards downstream and the bridge doesn’t connect to the park on the Sumida Ward side… (perversely, the downstream bridge – Kototoi Bridge, does connect the two parks, and existed a good 60 years before Sakura Bridge was built. Pork Barrel project, anyone?)
Here’s another prime location, with a view of the Shinjuku skyscrapers.
It seems like the homeless have recongregated in Shinjuku Central Park, some of them in plain view from above (though most seem to prefer living under the trees). The population was driven out a few years ago, the rumour was that our great Governor didn’t want to see blue plastic sheeting when he looked down from his nice office in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices (the two square buildings on the bottom right). – The fact the blue tents are back in force would seem to suggest that the rumours that Ishihara doesn’t spend much time in his office these days may be true.
He certainly isn’t known for his sympathetic attitude towards the homeless – he seems to think they are all lazy good-for-nothing bums. It’s alright when you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth, eh. (or in his case, maybe it was somewhere else. You can never quite tell which orifice he decides to speak from on any given occasion)