For hundreds of years people have come to Sanya in search of labouring jobs, shelter and a sense of belonging but the area is changing fast, and its residents are struggling to adapt
At first sight, Sanya looks much like any other Tokyo suburb: well-appointed homes, supermarkets and fast-food restaurants. In the distance, soaring above the rooftops and mesh of overhead power lines is the unmistakable shape of the Tokyo Skytree.
But its proximity to the ultra-modern landmark is deceptive. Older men in well-worn tracksuits, baseball caps and plastic slippers clutch cans of early-afternoon chu-hi alcopops, and dozens of no-frills hostels advertise rooms with easily the lowest rates in the city clues to Sanyas status as a Tokyo neighbourhood like no other, but one that is struggling to adapt to irresistible change.
In Tamahime park Katchan an affectionate abbreviation of his name is preparing to meet a friend. Nearby, beyond a makeshift tarpaulin home that boasts a flat-screen TV powered by solar panels, men pair up for games of shogi, their chessboard placed on an old filing cabinet. Behind them, a younger man removes all of his clothes and stares into the middle distance.
Ive come here to drink, chat and enjoy the weather sunlight is free after all, says Katchan, a day labourer who moved to Sanya 16 years ago. I only get very occasional work, but Ive stayed here because this is where my friends are.
Katchan is among the last in a line of men who have come to Sanya for hundreds of years in search of jobs, shelter, and a sense of belonging.
During the Edo period (1603-1868), itinerant workers who couldnt afford regular inns elsewhere in the city took advantage of Sanyas cheap kichinyado lodgings. After the war, it became home to tent villages for people who had been made homeless by US bombing raids.
The military-issue tents, donated by Occupation forces, gradually made way for wooden hostels. By 1953, around 6,000 people lived in 100 hostels; at its peak a decade later, the day labourer population had reached 15,000 people, scattered among more than 220 accommodations.
But you wont find Sanya on any modern maps. In 1966, the government ordered the name Sanya to be expunged from official records its now divided into two districts, Kiyokawa and Zutsumi in an attempt to camouflage its association with poverty, alcoholism, violence and the hiyatoi rodosha day labourers.
This post was curated & Posted using : RealSpecific
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