Homelessness stares us all in the face. Mass layoffs proceed apace, and economists see no end in sight. Who is immune? No one. So be prepared, says Weekly Playboy (Feb 2). Practice. Hone your rough-living skills. Once you get into it, you might find, as two of the magazine’s reporters do, that homelessness has its fun side.
Few men would seem more ill-equipped for unsheltered living than “Dayama” and “Oi,” both self-confessed couch potatoes who at first are not pleased with their assignment. The assignment is, quite simply, to throw themselves into homelessness and discover first hand what it’s like. They accept -- perhaps because homelessness with a job beats homelessness without one.
Where to begin? At a dry riverbed, suggests one of several mentors, recalling tales of a once favored venue for that sort of life. Unfortunately, modern housing and vegetable gardens crowd in upon Tokyo’s rivers, leaving little space for the uprooted. Try the grounds of a Shinto shrine, suggests someone. As long as you stay away from the torii gate, the guards will leave you alone, and the fact that there are guards present might even be an advantage, if one’s security is threatened.
That point settled, the preparations turn to clothing. The first necessity, says a one-time mercenary with extensive camping experience, is a woolen hat -- “because even a young person whose head is exposed to the cold could develop a cerebral hemorrhage. As for underwear,” he warns, “don’t pile it on -- it’s unsanitary.”
He suggests a sleeping bag of the type used by NATO troops. These will keep you warm even in temperatures of minus 10 Celsius. But surely, intervenes Weekly Playboy, they would cost rather more than your average laid-off temp worker could afford? Not so, the ex-mercenary assures. You can get one for 1,280 yen at one of the big discount stores. Discount shopping is a key to successful homelessness. Other bargains include a mini cook stove at 3,800 yen, a warmth-preserving mat for 1,260 yen, a 6-mat-size blue vinyl sheet for 980 yen. And the cardboard and old newspapers that afford that precious feeling of enclosure are, to borrow Weekly Playboy’s English, “priceless.”
Thus equipped, Dayama and Oi proceed to a shrine near the magazine’s office. “Over here!” shouts Oi. He’s found the perfect spot -- a natural bed of rotted leaves and soft earth. “I could sleep here even without a sleeping bag!”
Dayama, meanwhile, has set up his own sleeping quarters, with which he seems well satisfied. “Sleeping bag plus cardbard plus blue sheet -- just see how roomy it is!” Oi has settled down to some cooking. What’s he making? “Ramen. They told me I should live off bentos the convenience stores throw away because they’re past their sell-by dates. I figured that’d be overdoing it a bit, so I’m cooking up this ramen to trade with some of the veteran homeless for drinks and cigarettes.”
Weekly Playboy doesn’t tell us how long the experiment lasts, but Oi and Dayama seem fast learners. They’ll do fine.© Japan Today