Shinjuku Station 11:15pm
Tuesday, May 22, 2007


This photo shows the numerous homeless setting out their boxes as makeshift shelters for the night. If I am coming home late via Shinjuku I often see this sight. I think the tragedy is not so much the homeless guys themselves - you can find homeless in every large city - it is that they are largely not acknowledged by general society. Out of sight and out of mind and so many citizens of Tokyo are unaware of the problem and I have heard some people even deny the existance of any homeless. I have rarely seen people begging on the streets which is a marked difference of the culture within the Japanese homeless subculture.

There are few charities providing shelters/food drops and the few that are around receive little if any government support. It seems that once you slip through the cracks of general society here you are invisible and left to your own survival. 

Edit: Comments closed due to spam attack

Decreed by the goddess on 05/22 at 09:20 AM
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Tags: charityhomelessjapansadshinjukutokyo

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  • Neil Hopcroft (Leatherhead, UK) offered on 07/05/22 at 05:46 PM.....

    I think one difference between Tokyo and many other places, notably London, is that in Tokyo the homeless are not agressive about their situation, in London its quite common to be acosted by a homeless person who will do whatever they think will make you give them money. I never encountered beggars in Tokyo, its just not something that fits with society there. Unfortunately giving money directly to them makes it a viable lifestyle choice for some people, giving money through charities to support them is a better approach, however hard it might be to say no when they ask directly.

  • the goddess offered on 07/05/22 at 10:27 PM.....

    I have been involved in food drops (Rice ball project) as well as some charities such as Second Harvest (a food bank) which I have found very rewarding. These folk are not supported by government funding and it they rely on the spirit of general citizens who all volunteer. 

    Also coming up is the foreign chicks “clothes swap” where peoplee bring all their old clothes and then take away whatever they like.  Anything left over is donated to the women’s shelter - another non-government charity.  The clothes swap is great as it is social and you can take away recycled clothes that fit - amazing in this country where most of us can’t find anything to fit our humungous non-asian physiques.  smile

    But Neil you are correct in that there are never any beggars or pan-handlers. For the most part, these invisible by day homeless are just bedding down for the night and disappear during the day - sometimes to work even as the cost of housing is quite prohibative for some.

  • Taro at (Tokyo) offered on 07/05/23 at 06:30 PM.....

    Ahhhh, there’s several reasons why Tokyo no longer has beggars or pan-handlers.

    Bright reasons—-
      Wealth: There’s plenty of “work” venues for selling recycled cardboard/paper/cans that will yield a “living” as long as you con’t have to pay Tokyo rent. Bag-Busting (Japanese dumpster diving) will provide food and surprisingly-enough lees of alcohol to survive.

    Dark reasons—-
      Un-charity: At a personal level, the Japanese have no concept of “Charity”. It’s hard to beg from a population who doesn’t care. I can remember as a boy on vacation here in 1964 that Shinjuku used to have   beggers—disabled war vets who did get some sympathy.

    兎角亀毛 / とにかく/ tonikaku /anyway…I attract more homeless people in conversation than most people as I am seen by many as an approachable “success”(because I’m handicapped). They certainly are appreciative when I remember them on cold mornings when I buy them an extra hot coffee and nikkuman from the 7-11.
    Even an alien’s smile can make a cold morning better. grin

  • the goddess offered on 07/05/24 at 12:07 AM.....

    Taro - I agree that taking somebody to the 7-11 and getting them some food and warm drink is much better than just handing over cash. 

    In Cambodia I had my pockets stuffed full of sweets and my mother had pencils and paper (always the teacher) to give to the kids that were begging everywhere.  Money would just have gone to their families but at least our gifts could be enjoyed by the kids themselves.

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