While filmed at Tokyo’s Shinjiku station, by Berlin-based Hungarian photographer Adam Magyar, at a glacial frame rate, the scene captured here would differ little from any other train station in the world, during the peak hour commute.
Watch closely though, you will see some movement among the seemingly stationery people.
Employees of a company who have effectively been laid off, or made redundant, but remain on the payroll, can, assuming no one else is in fact aware of their status, carry on – in a manner of speaking – as if nothing has happened.
Shusaku Tani is employed at the Sony plant here, but he doesn’t really work. For more than two years, he has come to a small room, taken a seat and then passed the time reading newspapers, browsing the Web and poring over engineering textbooks from his college days. He files a report on his activities at the end of each day. Sony, Mr. Tani’s employer of 32 years, consigned him to this room because they can’t get rid of him. Sony had eliminated his position at the Sony Sendai Technology Center, which in better times produced magnetic tapes for videos and cassettes. But Mr. Tani, 51, refused to take an early retirement offer from Sony in late 2010 – his prerogative under Japanese labor law.
Unlike internet cafes I’m familiar with, those in Japan are clearly a little different… where computers are housed in small, individual, cubicles with their own doors, and customers even have access to communal showers and toilets.
I’d really have no problem staying in a capsule hotel if I were visiting Japan, in-fact a stay of at least one night should be on any visitors to-do, or bucket list. After all, you only go around once.
Of course the capsule experience is a little different from conventional hotels, in more ways than one… needless to say such confined rooms do not have their own bathroom, so you’ll be sharing communal facilities with other guests, and this means it will be necessary to observe a certain etiquette:
Many capsule hotels put a lot of effort into their bathing facilities, giving guests a sentou or communal bathing experience. So, yes, you’ll be bathing with strangers. Capsule hotels are segregated by gender, so if you are a man, you’ll be bathing with men. Likewise, females bathe with females. A note on bathing in Japan: Wash your body and hair before you get in the bath. There will be a washing area with faucets. Also, if you have tattoos, you will either need to cover them with bandages or not take a bath. Tattoos are typically prohibited due to their organized crime connotations in Japan.
Unless you live in Japan, you may not have encountered a removal service as attentive as that offered by Japanese home moving companies. I expect you’d pay a premium for such treatment, but it would surely reduce – considerably – the stress and hassles associated with moving.
Both Kawakami and Hatsumi are united on one point. Neither will appoint anyone to take over as the next ninja grandmaster. “In the age of civil wars or during the Edo period, ninjas’ abilities to spy and kill, or mix medicine may have been useful,” Kawakami says. “But we now have guns, the internet and much better medicines, so the art of ninjutsu has no place in the modern age.” As a result, he has decided not to take a protege. He simply teaches ninja history part-time at Mie University.
We woke on Saturday morning to the news of the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Despite the shocking and senseless scale of this tragedy, I fear we are not going to stop being told that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”.
What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world’s least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller? In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally. Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds are illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining the few that are allowed. Even the country’s infamous, mafia-like Yakuza tend to forgo guns; the few exceptions tend to become big national news stories.
Perhaps the first thing travellers to Japan need to understand, Japanese street address convention… certainly a little different from what we’re used to in this part of the world.
See: in (most of) Japan, streets don’t have names! Blocks have numbers! Streets are just the empty space in-between blocks. Duh! And the buildings on the block are numbered in order of age. The first building built there is #1. The second is #2, even if it’s on the opposite side.