4 Tokyo - One of 40 Million


Table of contents:

  • 4.1 Cemeteries
  • 4.2 Construction Workers
  • 4.3 Poor Living
  • 4.4 Elderly
  • 4.5 Going home from work in Ginza
  • 4.6 In the train
  • 4.7 Waiting for something/sitting for no reason




4.1 Cemeteries

The burial of the death became a struggle in the populous city with such a scarce space. Grave plots are hardly affordable for ordinary people. Thats why the city recently got it's very first vertical cemetery tower in a modern temple high rise. The sacred temple grounds can be found in old residential districts as well as between modern skyscrapers. The sound of the cicadas is a constant concomitant of these places.




4.2 Construction workers

The holes appear in the middle of the streets, filled with workers and a warm light. Sometimes a lonely man waves a red light  sober to warn the slight traffic of the construction site. Sometimes there are blinking LED-signs with the depiction of a man waving a red light.




4.3 Poverty and Livability

Poverty is hidden in Tokyo. From "the European perspective" materialistically most people live very humble: small homes, simple food, personal possessions just enough to fill once own four walls (but then piled beneath the ceiling). Considering a relative and local perspective on "poverty": It took me 5 weeks to witness dilapidated residential blocks for the first time. Tokyo has a very big number of working poor and day workers. For many others the regular income is just enough to make a living. 
I saw many homeless men in the evenings. At day they work. They leave their personal belongings neatly packed on rusty trollies on the sides of the streets.
Many internet coffee shops and libraries which are opened 24 h 7 days a week also house many hundred young adults. For those with no, small or instabile income proper housing is oftenly not available. For them the libraries have to fill their needs. There are a couple more facilities that support particular those without much property. Many public lockers and coin based bathrooms, washing machines and dryers can be found in Tokyo, as well as a solid number of public lockers.





4.4 Elderly

Every time I decided not to take the train, I walked through the different residential areas. Then I found myself to be the only "young" person among all these elderly forenoon-ramblers. Like most working people I usually don't go for walks in the morning. But now I am exited to try this somewhere else, too - maybe there are  more fit elderly-forenoon-ramblers, too. Actually I did not have the intention to photograph them but in the end they were on so many pictures...





4.5 Going home from work in Ginza

Karōshi means "death by work". For many western countries this is what Japan stands for. Per day 12 hours in an office; no breaks; 90 overtimes a month; sunday is free and relatively low waged compared to the high living expenses in Tokyo. Coming home – into a tiny apartment – energy for doing something else is rarely available.





4.6 In the train

"Please refrain from talking to the phone" announces a voice in the train. Talking, eating and the sounds of a smartphone are unpleasant for the other passengers. So even during the rush hours, the fully packed trains are quiet: people sleep, read, chat or play games on their smartphones.

Exceptions are the trains on the way and away from Shibuya Station in the evening. Then the young and more western oriented people as well as tourists make up the majority of the passengers.





4.7 Waiting for something/sitting for no reason: