Archive for the ‘Social Issues’ Category

The Big Issue: A magazine that helps the homeless in Japan

Although there are homeless people in every country, it seems more jarring to see a ragged-looking individual sitting on the sidewalk in super fast-paced, futuristic Tokyo — a metropolis that reeks of material wealth.

But it’s precisely this fact that makes it hard for those who can’t get back on their feet so easily after being retrenched. If you lose your salary, you can’t pay the rent, you get evicted, and if you don’t have a residential address, you can’t find a job.

In a city that seems cold and relentless, there are those who do want to lend a hand: the Big Issue, a non-profit magazine that helps the homeless help themselves. It’s heartening to know this, in the face of recent news that a Catholic organization was ordered by the government to stop giving free meals to the homeless along the Sumida River.

Written by journalists, the Big Issue (300JPY) is sold to the homeless for 140JPY, but they pocket the 160JPY as profit. Those who are absolutely destitute can be given the first 10 copies for free to have a small kick-start.

The idea was plucked from the UK, where the original Big Issue was founded by John Bird and the Roddicks of The Body Shop in 1991. Japan started its own arm in 2003 and has even branched out in publishing a book by the homeless.

Called Sekai ichi atatakai jinsei sodan: shiawase no jinsei reshipi (The World’s Most Heartwarming Advice Column: Recipe for a Happy Life), the book has 46 sets of questions and responses tackling life’s stumbling blocks. The commonsensical pearls of wisdom drives home that the homeless do know a thing or two about life through their hard-knock experiences.

So the next time you see a homeless person peddling the Big Issue, don’t be afraid to dish out 300JPY and read as much nihongo as you can.

Photo: jetalone

Urban legend of Tokyo

sagawa_1.jpg I enjoyed to read this LA’s post “What is your favorite Los Angeles legend?”

I will pick the urban legends of Tokyo
The legend of Wraith in Tokyo : This is the most famous Tokyo legend;people still don’t touch Tairano Masakado’s grave.

This is a funny one,Touch the delivery company trade mark. If you touch the trade mark of Sagawa delivery company, you will have some fortune. The funny part is trade mark is a traditional Japanese postman and what you need to touch is his traditional underwear!

And this “kuchisake Onna” is the urban legend of Japan, not only in Tokyo. The interesting part is that it went to Korea.

Parasite Single


This BBS design is cool.

Yesterday Fuji Sankei had an article about the American Boomerang generation. In Japan, we call young unmarried adults living off thier parents "parasite singles". But the there is big difference between the Boomerang generation and Parasite singles. As far as I could tell from the article, the Boomerang generation has debt because of academic fee. In Japan, most parents pay tuition for their childen (many think college is included in parent ‘s responsibility), so it is not a debt issue. The serious part is some Japanese young adults don’t ever find work; they continue to rely on their parents and they become "parasite middle-aged"….orz. This is the page a Japanese guy wrote and this is the funny article "no sex" from USA Today. By the way, this is an interesting graph "The rate of young adults who live in their parent’s home". Even if he or she works and gets money by themselves, Japanese tend to live with their parents until they marry. For Spanish, Greek, and Italian guys, living with their parents seems pretty normal, but women don’t do that. French, English and Americans are very independent from their families. By the way,  the term parasite single originated from the book "Parasite Eve", which was made into the film.

Speaking of that movie, I have never seen this Canadian movie "Project Grizzly". It looks so funny. Have you ever seen it before? Here is the trailer. Check it out.*


Equal Time.

Okay, I took a ride on the Seibu line the other day. You know what stood out? That’s right, I did not hear a single female voice from the rear of the train announcing stations. Not only that, I didn’t see any female drivers. I guess the Chuo line is a bit more progressive than the Seibu line. For what it is worth, I have seen female announcers on the Keio line. This new phenomena of women driving is not a new one.

I am seeing more and more girls doing the pedaling and the guys riding on the back of bikes. I am sorry, but this is just wrong. Call me old-fashioned.

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Can’t cleaning syndrome

Room_2I love cleaning up. Actually I can’t be relaxed in a messy place, but in a crowded place too. So my room has a few things like a hotel room. My friends say I have a cleaning phobia, and they think that I should be more relaxed :-). The opposite of my case, there are people who can’t clean up. A few years ago, a book was published and it was much-discussed, its title was "Katazukerarenai Onnatachi" (women who can’t clean up). This site wrote about it with an interesting TV show… wow can you believe that? That would be an outstanding case though, I can find many sites saying "I am a woman with can’t clean syndrome" from just messy levels to heavy ones, no place to live like this, this and this. Yes they were called "Can’t clean syndrome" in Japan before, but now people know it will be related to ADHD (can’t concentrate, very unstable.) in some case. And there are some companies which have cleaning services for such houses and rooms.

Then as a similar topic, we have "GOMI YASHIKI". It means garbage place surrounded by the garbage the inhabitant collected, like this, this, this. I found an article where the BBC said this would be related to OCD. Well even though we know it would be a disorder, such houses disfigure the appearance of the streets, cause bad smells, are in danger of collapsing etc. They just give their neighbours the creeps and cause a nuisance. But as long as he keeps things inside his place, it is hard to stop him collecting it or saying please try to have some therapy for OCD. People are compelled to accept in many cases, I heard. But finally Fukushima pref, Yokohama city have a measure to prohibit taking back things from the rubbish tip. How do you deal with in such cases in your country?

Hikikomori in other country = Sotokomori

khaosan.jpgI did not know the word "Sotokomori" until I read the news magazine "SPA" yesterday. But I do know it is getting to be an issue.

Do you know Hikikomori? Hikikomori people withdraw themselves at home. Soto means "outside" in Japanese, then Sotokomori is 20s-30s people staying a long time in foreign countries where the general prices are much lower than Japan. They do part-time jobs in Japan, then after they make a certain amount of money, go to foreign countries. For what?  Maybe to escape from reality.

Usually tourists enjoy the tourist places or communication with the local people. But Sotokomori people just stay at cheap hotels and spend time as they want. Some buy game machines and enjoy playing all day, some play guitar, some draw, some sleep, some hung around with other Japanese, they don’t see around the country to save the cost.

Meccas of Japanese Sotokomori are Bangkok in Thailand and Mumbai in India. Kahosan Traveler’s Lodge in Thailand is a well known place for Sotokomori. A one night stay costs 360-700yen, food is 90- 300yen, big beer is 90yen with edamame. The cost of living is about 30,000yen for a month there. Near the lodge, there is a big manga cafe and the Internet cafe, so nothing is inconvenient for living. If a young man has 300,000yen, he will survive two month in Japan…maybe it will be possible if he will be in survival mode. But in Bangkok, he can live 10 months without any worry, without pressure of family, friend s , job, etc. Here is a live camera of the lodge, you will see some Japanese enjoy beer in the daytime.

Until the 90s, college graduate – white-collar working for a big company was the typical ideal life model for many. (graph : blue is college graduate, dark red is white collar) But after the bubble, many students could not find jobs, and also they saw the destruction of permanent employment. Then they lost their incentive to get a job in a big, good company. In a good way, they got greater choice for the future and type of job. So some made their own company, some choose to becraftsmen. Although in the 80s, these were rare cases, it is not rare anymore and they succeed in their new field, and people think they are cool.

On the other hand, many couldn’t find their way, and there wasn’t a model anymore. Sotokomori might be people who failed to find their way to adjust in society. They had the excuse of a depressed economy, difficulty of finding work before. (Hikikomori includes students, lower age s who can’t go abroad by themselves.) But not anymore. I guess Hikikomori and Sotokomori think they have to to do something, but it is not today for them.

Falling Japanese Birthrate

Japanese government thinks one of the reason why our birthrate keeps falling down is money. So they are thinking to get us delivery expense. It will be some help but I don’t think it solves the problem much. This country, actually people are not supportive for people with infant or child. Childrens are treasure of nation but for most of Japanese, childrens are parents belongings.
I posted about it on my weblog before, I think I can still say same thing. Please read the extended post if you are interested.

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