Wednesday, January 6, 2010

NYTimes: "Disposed Of" - homeless in Japan

The NY Times photography blog Lens has a really great post about homeless, aging laborers in Osaka's Kamagasaki district. I've come across this population before while wandering around Osaka; they are an unseen group - literally. Japanese people are excellent at not seeing things that make them uncomfortable, and some of these men live hidden under bridges and overpasses. However, they have built strong communities of their own, and create their own support structures while being ignored by everyone else.

photograph by Fukada Shiho

The greatest myth in all of Japan is that everyone is middle class, and this causes a dissonance in which people who fall below this line are deemed to not exist. Despite this, they still attempt to contribute. From the post:
“It’s a community of lonely isolated individuals living together,” [Fukada Shiho, the photographer] said. “One man told me that if you don’t see someone for one week, you just assume that they’re dead.”

But despite their bleak situation, many maintain a strong sense of pride and an eagerness to work.

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