Here
and
Now

kuchikomi

Life is a Big Issue

19 Comments

His dream is to save enough money to rent an apartment. He is 64 years old. It looks like he’s going to make it.

Kazumasa Ikeda hawks a monthly magazine called The Big Issue Japan. It’s a spin-off of a magazine launched in London in 1991 as a means of giving employment to homeless people. All its street vendors are homeless. After acquiring the requisite certification from the board, a vendor is assigned a street corner and given 10 issues free of charge. The selling price is 300 yen per issue. The vendor who sells out thus earns 3,000 yen. Subsequently, the vendor pays 140 yen per issue and pockets 160 yen.

Each issue profiles a vendor. Ikeda is featured in the January edition. His sales territory is in Nanba, central Osaka. There he stands, his red cap and sandwich board clearly identifying his merchandise. He’s a hearty talker, a ready conversationalist, on easy speaking terms with just about everybody who comes along.

“It’s nice being here,” he says, “with all these people passing by, from high school kids to old people, and not only Japanese -- foreign tourists too. Just before there was this British tourist who came over to ask directions. The Big Issue started in England, so he bought a copy. That gave me a good feeling. Then a high school kid came up and bought one. I said to him, ‘Are you sure you’ll have enough money to get home?’ He laughed. ‘Of course!’ he said. ‘Don’t worry!’”

If ever a man loves his work, Ikeda seems to. He starts his day with a broom, giving his stretch of sidewalk a good sweep. “I do it three times a day. When your workplace is clean,” he explains, “it puts you in the mood to work.” And if he knows the area so well, it’s because he has prepared himself to answer anyone in need of directions.

He’s been selling The Big Issue since 2005. Before that he collected aluminum cans for recycling. Selling magazines is chancier -- some days you sell lots, other days hardly any -- but also more of a challenge, and Ikeda, on that day in September 2005 when he happened to hear of the magazine, was in the mood to rise to a challenge.

He was born in Hokkaido, the second of seven children. He graduated from junior high school in Tohoku and went to Tokyo in search of work. He worked at factories and construction sites. His income was adequate until the economy crashed in the 1990s. Suddenly jobs were scarce. Ten years ago his money ran out. He could no longer pay rent. He took to the streets.

“I should have saved,” he reflects ruefully, “instead of drinking and gambling.” But he’s not the type to dwell on regrets. “My goal,” he says, “is to save enough to rent an apartment and once more have a castle of my own. Then I hope to get a regular job -- anything at all.”

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
Login to comment

"I should have saved," he reflects ruefully, “instead of drinking and gambling."

And there you have it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“I should have saved,” he reflects ruefully, “instead of drinking and gambling.”

wonder how much he could have saved.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Drinking and Gambling. That is it in a nutshell. Well, I wish him all the best. If he can ignore those two bad callings, then maybe he might have a great future once again!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And there you have it

and you love it. feels good to be better than someone else eh?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

and you love it. feels good to be better than someone else eh?

Just noting the rare acceptance of personal responsibility from those whose poor life choices put themselves in such a situation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Is only gambling, or only drinking okay? I hope so or I'm screwed!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“My goal,” he says, “is to save enough to rent an apartment and once more have a castle of my own.

Sharp learning curve ahead.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If this man was able to go back in time and even change just one moment of one day, then this column would not be here. He had his moments drinking and gambling and to tell you the truth, I am glad he did. Life is fleeting. It can be gone in a nano-second. I am happy to think about my life every night before sleeping. I do not know if another day will come, and whether crap weather or a wonderful day ahead when I wake up is there, each and everyone is precious. I commend this man. I just hope he hasn`t lost out on some fun drinking and gambling and then get an apartment and fall over and die. He would have missed so much.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This sort of news must be a welcome 'zairyo' for Shiuu to get back on on this column....ne!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"And there you have it." Again the rightious indignation of the blinkered self satisfied. Shiuu completely misses the point. This guys aware of his problem is and doing whatever's within his power to pull himself back from the brink. Good on him!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

seems most (well everyone except the usual culprit in need of a self congratulatory gloat) have sympathy and encouragement for the man. I hope he gets his wish. oh, to be perfect and immune from hardships and the fickle wind of fate...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Drinking and gambling - he must have squandered the rest.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I try to buy a Big Issue whenever I see these men/women selling them. But I am a bit disappointed that the one or two articles in each issue that were written in English has been discontinued.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ok all you perfect saints and model citizens without fault, the stones are to your left. One each only please...

People are not perfect. Got it?!? People make bad choices, they screw up, they miss opportunities, they take the wrong path and sometimes it costs them heavily.

But every single human being looking for a second chance deserves one. And every one of them willing to work to rebuild a better life deserves our respect and encouragement.

It is too bad we live in a world where anyone ever has to be homeless. And someone who took a wrong turn cannot be given a hand of support to to get on a better path.

Morality teaches us to help the weak. A lesson fogotten by too many modern human beings who are too greedy, self centered and apathetic to care about others. Instead they pick up that stone and start throwing it.

Better hope if you fall off your perfect little pedistal that people are more charitable to you than you are to the weak today.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here's our man:

http://www.bigissue.jp/vendor/vendor110.html

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I like this guy's attitude. You'd be hard pressed to find a homeless person in Australia accepting the fact THEY had screwed up, and that it wasn't everyone else in society's fault. Good luck to him, if I see him I'll pick up a copy of The Big Issue.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Drinking and gambling - he must have squandered the rest.

What about the birds and fast cars?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

His savings lasted him almost ~10yrs. That's very good -most people don't have that much.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why do people give him hassle. Maybe he is a nutcase like me and needs help which is not beasily available in Japan.

Lay off him, get off your high horses and think , if it was one of your family and friends how would you feel?

Well done to him!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites