Living in the Dodgy Part of Japan for 1 Month

While Japan is widely regarded as a safe country, it does have it’s fair few blemishes like every country does. And the largest blemish to Japan, is the region of Osaka known as ‘Shin-Sekai’, a fair amount of crime, public intoxication, prostitution, indecent exposure are just some of the common things that you can expect in this area.The area stretches from south of Tsutentaku Tower, about 1km away from the tower, and most prominent between Shin-Imamiya Station and Tennoji Station. Recently, myself and a small team of our staff had rented an apartment in the area.

Normally, when we are going on long term missions across Japan, we typically look for areas that are nearby train stations for easy access around the city, and normally, we have a panel of people that approve our long term accommodation before we make our move. Unfortunately this time, there was a mix up in the booking of the apartment and we ended up on the wrong side of town from where we wanted, in the really sketchy part, which was extremely concerning because we had about half a million yen worth of camera equipment and laptops with us. While we made it out with everything intact, we did have some interesting experiences that we wanted to share with everyone.

 

Starting with the Good...

  1. The Cost of living was significantly lower. As bad as it sounds, myself and my team did reap the benefits of having a lower living costs because the area was quite deprived financially, which brought down the overall living costs and we were able to eat out at restaurants for quite a bit cheaper than other places we have stayed for work trips.
  2. It was convenient. Cheap and convenient, 2 minutes away from the nearest train station. 

3. Police presence. While the streets were rough at times, there was quite often police always on patrol, and with a police box around the corner, police were very fast to respond to any call outs in the area – while they were a lot in the month, problems were solved very quickly and we certainly felt at peace. 

 

And on to the bad...

  1. A lot of homeless people. Yeah, if I had to make a rough estimate on home many homeless people were in the neighborhood, it would probably be reaching close to 200 individuals, which was very sad to see, especially around the time the soup kitchen had opened and you could see everyone queuing up for dinner. 
  2. A lot of drunk people. Almost every single vending machine on the  side roads was an alcoholic vending machine, selling drinks for as low as 100 yen. Which means that a lot of the locals got drunk, and they got drunk very quickly.

3. Felt Threatened occasionally. I remember one day, we had to do our laundry, and the apartment didn’t come with a laundry machine. So, we headed down to the local laundromat, you know, early morningish to get it done. But along the way, we got quite a lot of intimidating looks from the drunk locals, and there were a couple faces which certainly weren’t friendly, and we felt like a couple people could easily instigate a fight. 

4. People were way too noisy. The vending machine next to us opened at 4:45am, and with paper thin Japanese walls, you bet your money we were awake with the homeless people who were smashed before the sun was even up, which screwed up our sleeping patterns for a couple weeks. It was however very quiet on days with rain, many people grabbed hot drinks out of the non-alcoholic vending machines to warm them up, which allowed us to sleep into to about 8-9pm depending on the work schedule. 

And the funny...

So, our apartment had a security camera with a view of the door and the road, and I must say, that camera caught some of the greatest things I’ve ever seen – words can’t do it justice. 

  1. A One Man Band. It was 9:30 on a Tuesday, we just about to head off to meet an important client of ours, when suddenly we were distracted by music coming by streets. Initially we ignored it, but then it kept getting loud, so we turned on the camera and as we turned it on, some dude was

just jamming on his one man band. We all just looked at each other is disbelief as the man walked past on the street. I think the most shocking thing about it, was how good the music actually was, because normally one man bands are just conglomerates of different sounds and they sound horrible, but not this time. This dude was killing it!

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