Confessions of the Young Homeless — The Special Circumstances of Living in an Inconvenient and High-Rent Dormitory | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Confessions of the Young Homeless — The Special Circumstances of Living in an Inconvenient and High-Rent Dormitory

Nonfiction writer Kota Ishii takes a close look at the reality of the "young homeless," young people who have lost their homes!

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Simple lodging houses are sometimes subject to on-site inspections by local authorities. Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture (Image: Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture) (Jiji Press)

Dormitory-type simple lodging facilities in entertainment districts. Why do they pay more than the rent of an apartment to live there? Continuing from the previous article [ Why Young People Are Settling in Inconvenient “Dormitories”], we would like to introduce the background that leads to the deep darkness of the city.

First, we would like to introduce the circumstances of the two people who lived in a dormitory in Shinjuku.

0-Unsettled child

Shunsuke Hayami (pseudonym, hereafter the same) came to Tokyo because he could no longer stay in the countryside of Shikoku due to the problems he was causing. At first, he lived in a dormitory of a cabaret club and a brothel while working as a black-clad woman, but he got into financial trouble everywhere he went.

One day, Shunsuke had to quit the restaurant and leave the dormitory because of a work-related problem. At that time, a vendor he met at a pachinko parlor invited him to work as a “hitter. Uchiko” is a job in which one goes to a pachinko parlor and plays pachinko for a fee as a pachinko pro or a cherry pachinko player.

He decided to live as an uchiko, but unlike cabaret clubs and sex clubs, there were no dormitories. There was also no one to act as his guarantor.

Special circumstances that made him live in a dormitory for seven years.

When he discussed this with his contractor, he was told that there was a good dormitory. He told me that there were several other strikers working for the same contractor there, so he could consult with them and even wake them up if they were not good in the mornings.

In fact, there were three other hammers living there who worked for the same contractor. They could talk to each other and help each other out when they were in trouble.

So Shunsuke quit the water business, moved into a dormitory, and became a hitter. His monthly income was 350,000-400,000 yen. Despite all that, he lived in the dormitory for seven years because he felt safe with his friends.

0 Cook

Tadashi Shibasaki became a professional chef after attending a culinary school. However, his love of gambling led him to run up debts of about 8 million yen, which he was forced to collect. He gave up on repaying his debts, ran away at night, and came to Tokyo.

Penniless, he decided to start living homeless in Shinjuku. He laid down on a cardboard box, but the April night was so cold that he could not sleep at all. At dawn, a mysterious “arranger” came and approached the homeless one after another, saying, “I have a good job for you. I’ve got a good job for you, won’t you do it?

Tadashi became scared and decided that homelessness was not for him. He then went for an interview at a privately owned ramen restaurant that was hiring. He put the address of an acquaintance on his resume, but because it was a privately owned store, he was not pestered, and he was hired immediately.

A simple lodging house that is often used by young people (image has been partially processed). (Kyodo News)

For the first month or so, I was paid a daily wage at the ramen store, which I used to pay for lodging at the dormitory. When the money accumulated, he was now paid monthly for his accommodations.

As a former cook, he was highly regarded, and after a few years he rose to the position of hired manager. He also worked as a dishwasher at another restaurant on his days off, and his monthly income was about 300,000 yen.

However, he did not pay back his debts out of that money; rather than pay back the 8 million yen, he decided to keep running away and wait for the statute of limitations to run out on his debts. Therefore, he lived in hiding in a dormitory for about five years.

Looking at it this way, you can see that each of them came to live in the dormitory due to their own special circumstances.

Water companies, pachinko parlors, and security companies often have dormitories to employ people who are in need of a place to live. However, those who cannot get such jobs or need somewhere to hide for some reason may live in dormitories.

Incidentally, not so long ago, simple dormitories in the doyamachi districts such as Osaka’s Airin district (Kamagasaki) and Tokyo’s Yamaya played the role of such places.

The Background of the Choice of Dormitories over Easy Apartments

In recent years, however, the residents here have aged and come to require public assistance and nursing care. As a result, many NPOs have come in to provide livelihood support and care, and the area is now becoming the forefront of welfare for the elderly.

These factors have made the doyagai unapproachable for those in the young to middle age bracket who are willing to work. This is one reason why they are moving to simple lodging facilities such as dormitories.

One question, however, is that even under certain circumstances, it would be easier, both physically and mentally, to rent an apartment once one has gathered a certain amount of money than to pay 80,000 yen a month to live in a dormitory.

For the aforementioned Shunsuke Hayami, with a monthly income of 350,000-400,000 yen, it would be possible to find a decent apartment without a guarantor. For Tadashi Shibasaki, renting an apartment would be much less likely to be found by debt collectors.

But why do these people pay high accommodation fees and suffer the inconvenience of living in a dormitory? In fact, here lies the dreaded “swamp” of dormitories.

Tadashi Shibasaki explains.

The reason why people are stuck in dormitories is partly because of the location. It is located in an entertainment district, so there are a lot of temptations. There are girl bars, pachinko parlors, sex clubs, and izakaya (Japanese style pubs) …….

In my case, the monthly dormitory fee is 80,000 yen, but water and electricity are free, and meals are provided by the restaurant where I work. If you exclude cell phone bills and other expenses, you would have about 200,000 yen at your disposal. This means that the loneliness of living in a dormitory can be made up for by having fun in the entertainment district.

It is amazing to be able to spend 200,000 yen a month for fun, isn’t it? Once you learn that, you will never think of cutting back on living and playing and living a lonely life in an apartment. Even if there are some inconveniences, living in a dormitory is more enjoyable.

People who live in dormitories have little self-discipline to begin with. Once such people live in entertainment districts and have enough money to play, it is natural for them to get stuck in the swamp of their desires.

The same is true for host-dependent prostitutes living in Internet cafes.

The cost of staying in Internet cafes is not cost-effective when compared to the convenience of the cafes. Why, then, do these prostitutes still choose to live in Internet cafes?

Except for those who cannot rent an apartment because of their age or cannot work in a brothel with a dormitory, they are also stuck in the swamp of lust in the entertainment district.

They invest large sums of money to fill the void in their hearts with hostesses. They accept the inconvenience of living in Internet cafes because it has become their reason for living. That is why they cannot get out of the Internet café.

In this way, it may be said that the drifting life in the entertainment district is made up of the desires that the town has.

Whether they are men or women, the castaways come to the entertainment district with some kind of problem. At the root is loneliness. That is why, even if they earn a decent income, they are more likely to fall into the world of desire in order to fill their loneliness than to aspire to a stable life.

In this respect, it can be said that entertainment districts have the power to suck all kinds of things out of weak people.


The series “Young Homeless” is looking for people in their 10s to 40s who have no permanent place to live. We are looking for real-life experiences of people who have lost their housing, either now or in the past, such as people living in cars, Internet cafe refugees, migrant sex workers, day laborers living in dormitories, hotel dwellers, store dwellers, and people living in support facilities, as well as the voices of those who are providing support for these people. Anonymous or other conditions are acceptable, so please contact the author.

Kota Ishii (Author)

Twitter @kotaism


  • Interview and text Kota Ishii

    Born in Tokyo in 1977. Nonfiction writer. He has reported and written about culture, history, and medicine in Japan and abroad. His books include "Absolute Poverty," "The Body," "The House of 'Demons'," "43 Killing Intent," "Let's Talk about Real Poverty," "Social Map of Disparity and Division," and "Reporto: Who Kills the Japanese Language?

  • Photo Kyodo News Agency Jiji Press, Inc.

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