More Expensive Than an Average Apartment — Why Young People Are Settling in Inconvenient Dormitories? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

More Expensive Than an Average Apartment — Why Young People Are Settling in Inconvenient Dormitories?

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

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Simple lodging houses are often used by young people. (Image is an image and has been partially processed. (Kyodo News)

The sign of the simple lodging facility is labeled “capsule hotel. Inside, however, it is not a capsule hotel as generally recognized by the public.

Four bunk beds are lined up in a windowless room about 10 tatami mats in size. Each bed is separated by a thin curtain, but there is only a 50-centimeter gap between the bed next to it and the one next to it, so any small noise can be heard.

This dormitory-style accommodation can accommodate up to 110 people, but many “permanent residents” rent beds on a month-to-month basis and live there for years. About 20% of them live there for several months or longer.

There are several such dormitory-style lodging facilities in the downtown areas of cities such as Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. Prices vary by area and facility, but range from 2,000 to 3,500 yen per night, or 50,000 to 90,000 yen for a one-month contract.

There is no set terminology for these simple lodging facilities, with each facility displaying a sign that reads “guesthouse,” “shared house,” “capsule hotel,” “hotel,” “lodging,” and so on.

The series “Young Homeless” describes the lives of young men and women adrift in Japan, and these simple dormitory-style accommodations have also become one of their permanent homes.

Why do they settle down in inconvenient and expensive dormitory-style accommodations when rent for an inexpensive apartment can be as low as 40,000 yen in Tokyo? Behind this lies a deep urban darkness.

Why is it convenient to pay monthly instead of daily?

At a dormitory called “A” in downtown Shinjuku, Tokyo, there were always around 30 permanent residents. Many of them, as I will describe later, started out as homeless and eventually settled there.

Accommodation costs 2,500 yen per night, or 80,000 yen per month. Simple calculations show that paying by the day is cheaper.

However, with the daily rate, you have to vacate your bed each day with your luggage, but with the monthly rate, you can use the same bed and put your luggage in a locker. The monthly rate is more convenient for permanent residents.

Almost all the residents are men. I say “almost” because some of them are hostesses of “transsexual bars” or men who work as “uri-zen” in the town.

In many cases, stores in the general water business and sex industry have their own dormitories. However, some transsexual establishments and those offering special prostitution services do not have dormitories, and those who work in such establishments sometimes use them as places to stay.

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

There are several simple lodging facilities in the city, including Internet cafes. But why do people still choose dormitories?

Nobu Ayabe (pseudonym), who has been living in a dormitory for more than 10 years, says, “Internet cafes are not the best choice for prostitutes.

Internet cafes have an image of being for young girls who are prostitutes. They are connected through the Internet, so they don’t mind spending hours in a closed room.

In contrast, the people in dormitory-type lodgings are men in their late 20s or older, basically people who work during the day. Many of them are analog. Then, living in a rest room, or in the bathroom, where you can see other people’s faces, makes you feel less lonely. We don’t get along with each other, but we do at least exchange greetings in the break room.”

The main reasons for choosing a dormitory are the following advantages.

1、Bathrooms are available.

2、resident registration is available.

3、It is not conspicuous even if it is dirty.

Let’s look at them in order.

First, let’s talk about the public baths. Internet cafes have shower rooms but no bathtubs. On the other hand, some dormitories are equipped with large baths, so those who prefer to soak in hot water prefer this type of accommodation.

Second, you can put down your address. An address is indispensable for getting a decent job.

Recently, it has become possible to register as a resident even in Internet cafes. However, if a search is conducted, it will become obvious that you are living in an Internet cafe, and this may hinder your chances of being hired.

On the other hand, a dormitory is less likely to cause problems than an Internet café, because you can put your address there, and even if it is searched, it will come up as a “guesthouse” or “shared house.

What is the occupation of a permanent resident: ……

The third is the ease of living for manual laborers. They have to come and go in their dirty work clothes and are likely to be looked down upon in Internet cafes. On the other hand, many men and not a few manual laborers live in dormitories, so they do not have to worry about it.

What kind of work do the people who live in dormitories do? Ayabe, the previous owner of the company, had this to say: “People are working in precarious jobs,” he said.

Many of them have precarious jobs,” said Ayabe. They include civil engineering workers, pachinko players, part-timers at restaurants and stores, cleaners, and line-up clerks. They have to pay 80,000 yen a month for lodging, so they have jobs that pay reasonably well, but they work for companies that don’t have dormitories, or they have to move from one place to another for some reason. So, even if you get to know each other well, it is taboo to have deep conversations. It’s polite not to go into it, because we both know we have dark pasts.

Many of the people living in the dormitories are working two jobs at the same time. This is due to the hours of operation of the dormitories.

Unlike private rooms in Internet cafes, dormitories are cleaned and beds made every day; for A, cleaning hours are from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. During this time, guests can leave their luggage in lockers, but they must stay out.

The problem is on vacation. Trying to pass the time for more than 7 hours in the downtown area would cost a lot of money. So many of the permanent residents do simple part-time jobs to pass the time. For example, those who normally do manual labor may take a part-time job handing out tissues or driving an advertising car for a water business during the cleaning time on their days off.

But if they work that much, their monthly income would be more than 300,000 yen. So why do they continue to live in dormitories instead of renting apartments?

In fact, there is a big dark side to their situation. They are unable to escape from the swamp of temptation and desire that is the entertainment district because of their particular circumstances.

In the second part, “Confessions of Young People Living in Dormitories,” we will introduce the special circumstances that led them to live in dormitories and the sinful desires they have sunk into the entertainment district.

Part 2 [Confessions of Young People: Special Circumstances of Living in Dormitories

  • 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 Jiji Press

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