On my way through Osaka Castle park, I passed many tents, where homeless people had set up little homes for themselves. One tent home, was actually quite nice, the tenant himself sitting out on his homemade porch, reading a magazine and eating some noodles, all the while looking quite content. His home, right on the water of the moat surrounding the castle, had view that couldn’t be beat. With the rapidly rising costs of real estate in Japan, I’m sure he could have charged a bundle for his waterfront property. 

Of course, setting up a home on the grounds of a national monument would never fly in America. I had heard that the Japanese government tried to kick out the homeless out of these parks and monuments but the homeless had quite a resolve. They would pack up and leave, only to relocate to another park or even come back. So if it wasn’t one set of bums, it was the other. I suppose the term would be “bum circulation”. 

Some of the bums however, do not have nice tents like these ones in Osaka castle park. The ones I have passed in the subway sometimes sleep in long cardboard boxes or on top of newspapers. Many times, they are dressed in business attire, looking as though they were just taking a short nap before heading to work. 

Many of the homeless had once been salary men, working for various companies and making a lot of money. In the 90’s, Japan’s economy dipped slightly, resulting in many people losing their jobs due to budget cuts. With the shame of losing one’s job, one could not return home to the family. Many of these people chose to be homeless instead. With the choice between getting a low skilled job and becoming homeless, many of these people chose the homeless route because they refused to go from working for a company and making lots of money to cleaning the subway station toilets. Today, many of them pick up cans for a living, turning just enough profit to get by; just enough to buy a couple of bowls of noodles a day. 

Sometimes I wonder if these people ever even want to go back to real society. The bum with his waterfront property looked pretty content. 
 


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