[Hpn] Re: Fwd:

Tent City tentcitypdx@yahoo.com
Thu, 22 Aug 2002 11:28:39 -0700 (PDT)

Nice report, Lee, great work and I forward it along
Ital ("pure") to our brothers and sisters in the
tentcities up and down the West Coast and to
Tabirounen in Osaka and to Tent City in Toronto,
Ontario, as well.

I note that you say, perhaps elsewhere, that "street
sleepers" was the preferred Japanese term to our term
"houseless" here in Portland and point out that in New
Delhi when I lived there the term was "street

I'd also like to comment on the state of manners here
inna 'merika and say that I've noticed that in older
cultures like Europe and Asia where the demography is
denser than here and where "rugged individualism"
isn't the dominant ideology, the art of living
together seems to be more highly developed. 

Look forward to Monday when I can post a lot of the
Japanese photos and material on our Web site!

Jah guide and protect.

--- LKLarson1@aol.com wrote:

> ATTACHMENT part 2 message/rfc822 
> Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2002 11:09:58 GMT
> To: LKlarson1@aol.com
> CC: 
> Subject: 
> From: rayna07r@juno.com
> Hey Lee, 
>   i was thrilled to get your “report,” it’s the
> first comparative evaluation ive seen yet on
> homeless populations in the us and japan(besides the
> one in my head) and i believe youre right on with a
> lot of (dare i say all) your interpretive free
> thinking. the inexplicable degree to which homeless
> persons are marginalized and criminalized through
> “vagrancy” laws in particular and legal, political,
> and social policies as a whole in amerika never
> ceases to astound me- case in point, im still trying
> to get my head around the no “leaning against walls”
> and “hugging each other” thing going on in
> Portland(if you have the time, id really appreciate
> a bit summary)
>  so i will pass this letter on to folks here in
> Tokyo, nojiren and others…if youre planning to post
> this i do have a couple corrections(i know we rushed
> through the whole affair, so there no real need to
> sweat the details-i can just tend to be a stickler
> at times) 
> 1-  Ryosampaku is LOCATED at the center of Miyashita
> park and as far as its meaning, uh, i dunno. Its
> based on some sorta robin hood story that took place
> in a mountain called ryousan (and paku means, uh,
> “villa” loosely translated) but maybe im wrong,
> never was all that good at cultural history.  
> Miyashita houses the 80 or so tents but in
> ryousampaku proper there are about only 15.
> 2-  Yamamotosan was the informative guide and,
> furthermore, HES the one fluent in Japanese(not moi)
> whereas im simply his right hand man
> You guys really got your work cut out for you(i was,
> yes, once again reminded just how much so through
> your letter)…im looking forward to my first amerikan
> community study on my next return to portland…say
> hey to linda and all the folks fer me!!…rayna
> August17, 2002
> Dear Villagers,
>     I had a most enjoyable and enlightening trip to
> Japan which included visiting five homeless camps
> (four organized) in Tokyo and Osaka, and observing
> several others from a distance in Kyoto and
> Hiroshima (small in number).   I’m including most of
> the photos—not entirely great photos—but some good
> memories.   If I can find my notes, I do have names
> for some of them, Jack—but here they are in the
> meantime—everyone in Japan will be looking to find
> themselves!  The photos are:
>     a)  My visit to Ougimachi Park Tent Village in
> Osaka (August 6th)—having about 30-50 tents.
>     b)  My visit, the same day, to Nagai Park Tent
> Village in Osaka, now down to about 15-20 tents.
>     c)  My visit to two tent villages in Tokyo, the
> first of which is located at Shibuya Miyashita Park
> and the village there was called Ryosampaku which
> means “center of the park.”  It had about 100 people
> and 75-100 tents.  We then went to another tent
> village called “Yoyogi Park” (which was at this
> park) which has about 300 tents.  It is a large park
> and is very popular with the young people on the
> weekends (and summer holidays, like when we were
> there—street bands, many vendors along the
> sidewalks, lots of life and activity nearby the park
> or along side the park).  
>     My guide for Osaka was a long time supporter
> called Tabirounan and another supporter who served
> as the translator at Ougimachi and I have mislaid
> his name right now.   There are only two organized
> tent cities in Osaka, but many many small scattered
> tent groups in various parks there, mostly
> unorganized and without formal methods of
> communicating with one another (although I’m sure
> they do communicate).  Both Ougimachi and Nagai have
> separate supporter groups that assist these tent
> communities.
>     My guide in Tokyo was Rayna Rusenko, an American
> working in Tokyo who is fluent in Japanese and a
> member of Nojiren, which is a sort of private name
> for what really is the “Shibuya Free Association for
> the Right to Housing and Well-Being of the
> Homeless”.  Initially, from the use of Nojiren I had
> thought it a person’s name and, indeed, some
> articles appear to be written by “Nojiren”. 
>     The situations in Osaka and Tokyo seem to be
> quite different.   First of all, let me mention that
> my impressions of homelessness in Japan may be very
> inaccurate, obtained from some web sites and
> information that I read while there and from talking
> with the supporters and homeless.  Sometimes there
> were challenges involved with the translations and I
> have lost or mislaid a whole bunch of my notes, so
> everything I am writing here is from memory.   So,
> am apologizing in advance for inaccuracies.
>     From an article in late July in the “Japan
> Times”, it said there were (only) some 20,000
> homeless in Japan (and I read other “official”
> figures that state there are 30,000 homeless), with
> most of the homeless located in Tokyo and Osaka,
> which the article said had some 8,000 homeless. 
> This article mentioned that each governmental unit
> (prefectures) are responsible for their homeless
> policies (shelters, payments to homeless, etc.) and
> that such policies vary considerably, being far more
> “generous” in the Tokyo area and being more
> restrictive in the area with the greatest number of
> homeless—Osaka.  Tokyo has some 25 million people in
> the area and about 13 million in the city proper.  I
> believe Osaka, the second largest city, has about
> nine million in the area.  If you go strictly by the
> “city” definition, then Tokyo has about 13 million,
> and Yokohama, at the foot of Tokyo Bay, is next in
> population at around 4 million or so (normally it is
> clumped in with Tokyo, and Osaka then is the third
> largest city with only about three million proper! 
> I suppose statistics do with homeless populations
> much as they do with cities’ population numbers—that
> it depends on what is included and a little of what
> you’re trying to illustrate.  
>     The same article mentioned that there was some
> limited financial support for homeless individuals,
> which seemed to be in the range of about $300 per
> month (quite a bit higher in Tokyo) but that
> depended on the local governmental policies and that
> the payments were limited in the time frame you
> could get the payments.  As more shelters are being
> built (especially in Osaka), I was told that such
> payments are being eliminated entirely.  
>     Yet, the homeless supporters in Osaka said there
> are about 20,000 homeless alone in Osaka, so my
> guess is that the governmental and “official”
> figures are way, way low.   Homelessness is growing
> rapidly in Japan, especially since the country is
> still in the midst of a 13 year recession, and
> companies are increasingly adopting what I think of
> as American techniques—layoffs, especially with
> their more costly “senior” employees.  It used to
> be, of course, that you had a strong loyalty between
> a company and its employees—sort of like a family,
> really—and lifetime employment.   This has changed. 
> Further, the family dynamics are changing which is
> creating all sorts of new stress in this society—an
> epidemic of sorts.   So, the US (and other
> countries) is succeeding in exporting its business
> philosophy and some of its values or lack thereof,
> no doubt increased by the WTO accords.   Bottom
> line—the homeless situation is rapidly becoming
> worse in Japan. 
>     The official average age of homeless people is
> about age 50 there and these people have little
> likelihood of regaining any permanent
> employment—there are not the jobs and training for
> new jobs is inadequate, which leaves these people
> homeless or showing up for “day labor” situations.
> These people are shamed, for they have the work
> ethic, want to work and now are in a homeless
> situation, so they stay somewhat out of sight and
> try not to be highly visible.  Yet, as here, in my
> opinion, the reasons for homelessness are often
> structural and not the particular individual’s
> “fault”, but rather are the “system’s.”  And, given
> the changes in the family, I would expect in the
> future that more youth there will fall into homeless
> situations.
>     In spite of the growing homeless numbers and
> situation in Japan, it is very obvious that
> homelessness is far more severe and cruel in the
> United States, with an estimate of around 1,000,000
> homeless (the lowest figure I’ve ever read is some
> 300,000) and possibly several million more “on the
> fringe” in a country of around 300 million people,
> compared to Japan’s 125 million people and the
> governmental claims of only some 20,000 homeless.   
>     Even Mother Teresa noted, when she visited New
> York City, that she had never seen greater suffering
> than there, which is amazing considering the
> conditions in Calcutta and Bombay.   We have a sort
> of go-it-alone culture and homelessness involves
> shame in a country that has a strong work ethic and
> an emphasis on materialism in all aspects of living,
> so homeless conditions (given our lack of a sense of
> “community”) results in far more misery and
> challenges here than in other countries where there
> might even be worse conditions, but where there is
> greater support from one homeless person to another
> or 
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"No one should question the faith of others, for no human being can judge the ways of God."

                             H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I

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