Source (Japanese): http://rocketnews24.com/2012/04/25/205945/
Translation by @ShibataBread
Edited by @tofupizza
According to January 2011 data obtained from the Japanese Ministry of Health, 10,890 homeless people live in Japan. However, the actual number could be much higher because each municipality conducted only visual counts of the homeless people in the area.
Just how did these people become homeless? And how exactly do they live their lives? A new project called “Homeless Bar” in Shimokitazawa invites the public to attend an event where they can listen to the stories of homeless people.
Mr. Tanaka (not his real name), is 49 years old and served as a temporary waiter at today’s “Homeless Bar” where he talked about being homeless for the past eight years. Here are some of the realities of his homeless life:
—What is “Homeless Bar”?
It’s an event sponsored by “Unemployed FES” where homeless people talk about their daily lives. The organization rented out a bar in Shimokitazawa for the evening’s event.
—“I Contemplated Suicide.”
Mr. Tanaka considered suicide when he eventually left his residence for good. His relationship with his superiors had gone sour after his company, where he had worked for 20 years, started losing money. He managed to live on his savings for about a month but fell into a deep depression after failing to discover happiness and a meaningful life. Determined to end his life, he headed to Shinjyuku with only cigarettes and alcohol.
—An Unexpected Intervention
Mr. Tanaka planned to take his own life once his alcohol and cigarettes ran dry, but a homeless support group intervened. The group invited him to participate in their sponsored events, and he managed to earn a little bit of cash to support himself. He continues to work with the group, but he’s still a homeless man who sleeps at Shinjyuku station. When he has enough cash, he uses it to rent a rooms at local manga(comic book) shops where he can also take a shower. It’s not unusual for him to go without anything to eat, but once in a while, he’ll treat himself to a beef bowl at a chain restaurant.
—His Latest Discovery – A Little Girl at Shinjyuku Station
One thing Mr. Tanaka has discovered as a homeless man is that many people have with much more unfortunate situations than his own. He stated, “I feel particularly bad for homeless people who are mentally challenged. I mean, they can’t defend themselves.” He further explained, “I saw a first grade girl hanging out at the West exit of Shinjyuku Station for about six months. But I haven’t seen her in a while.”
Mr. Tanaka said, “I wish the government would step in more to help. The cops just look the other way.” Mr. Tanaka acknowledged views on life have totally changed now that he’s a homeless man.
—An Increasing Number of Younger Homeless People
Mr. Tanaka also talked about the increasing number of younger homeless people. He has started to see a lot of healthy people in their 20′s and 30′s spending the night at train stations or parks. A small percentage of these younger people spend the night at Ueno Park and wander around Akihabara during the day. He thinks it might be a consequence of Japan’s recession coupled with an ever increasing downsizing of the work force.
—No Dreams. No Ambition.
Life has been rough for Mr. Tanaka, and he has no particular dreams or ambitions for the future. “Whatever happens, happens” is his motto and it suits his lifestyle well. But it’s safe to say that Mr. Tanaka tries to earn a little money here and there to support his heavy smoking habit. Some of the questions the attendees asked Mr. Tanaka were, “Is there anything you want?,” “What kind of help would you like?,” and “Where would you like to travel?” and he promptly answered “nothing” or “nowhere” to all three.
Rio Shimura and Ai Konoshita, both attendees of the “Homeless Bar” event , also asked Mr. Tanaka some questions. They were both shocked by the man’s lifestyle. The event attracted a large attendance and Yuki Iwai from “UnemployedFES”, one of the event’s organizers, was surprised by the turn out. He expressed his desire to hold the next event at a larger venue and hopes to have a “Homeless Bar” every two months.
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