Hidden in this cardboard box is one of many
homeless persons taking shelter at the gates of subway stations in Tokyo, long after the lights go out and tourists return to their hotels. Looking for warmth, provided by the warm air which still leaks from the closed entrance to the underground systems.
It was a cold, rainy night. I missed the last train back to my stay in the suburbs, and so I strolled down the surprisingly empty streets of this megalopolis. With all the noise and flashy-colorful commercial banners turned off, it looked like a totally different place. It was unbelievable.
Then, as I lost my way, I started noticing people, mostly men, sitting in the corners of the streets. In front of a building's ventilation system, under an arch, in gangways. Covered in cardboards, plastic bags and newspapers to stay warm. Dozens of them.
Shooting photos of poor people is not my favorite part of photography. I felt bad, walking past those people with a 600$-camera in my hands, snapping pictures of their misery without giving them anything in return. Not a very proud moment. But I really wanted to show this to somebody, especially to those who only see shiny lights and smiling faces when thinking of Japan.
Next time I visit this country (I wish to stay for a couple months), I'd like to join one of the NGOs that organize shelter and food for homeless people. To do something
. Naive, maybe.
--more Tokyo Stories: