How Tokyo handles the homeless?

How many homeless there are in Tokyo is impossible to say, but there are a lot. Not as many as some cities, of course, but probably more than many people would imagine. Quite a few more in fact.

Those in the know also say the numbers are rising, although such suggestions are unnecessary, as even a cursory glance around many of the capital’s parks and open spaces confirm this to be the case. Where there was once solitary, makeshift accommodation, has now turned into what would best be described as encampments, and the sight of those on the streets appears to have become more damaged — not to mention desperate.

But just like many things in Tokyo, instead of being dealt with or even debated, it’s almost deftly ignored.

Tokyo homeless


  1. says

    They really turn their backs on that homeless person. When I first visited Japan you could find these blue tents in the parks or playgrounds, or cardboard boxes under the underpasses, but are the homeless people forced to sleep on the pavement these days? Things have gotten grim!

    • says

      Some, yes, although it’s still mostly boxes and ‘tents’ in parks and the like. But these days there are noticeably more of them.

      • Ali Payton says

        Is it safe to walk in the parks – do you consider that these people are a threat as I do see that you mention and increased ‘desperation’?

  2. says

    If we do not acknowledge the problem, it doesn’t exit; if we address it, we are forced to take responsibility for failure. “And so it goes…”

  3. winnie says

    This picture is making me sad. I saw quite a few time under the staircase of the overhead bridge too.
    Honestly speaking, I am lost on what I can do. Unable to help them too. I feel quite depressed or even useless.
    I am not being fake but just want to share my feelings about these situations.

    • says

      I know exactly how you feel Winnie. Buying the Big Issue and the like obviously helps, but it doesn’t in any way begin to solve the problem.

  4. Nora says

    I also heard that if you’re homeless, you can just live in the cybercafes scattered around town, is this true?

    • says

      You can stay in those places, but they still cost money. Internet cafes are often said to be popular places for the working poor — another group that gets very little coverage in Japan.

      • Nora says

        More reasons for each of us to count our blessings rather than whine about non significant things. By the way, I love all your pictures and one day I hope I’d get to go there and experience things myself! Cheers!

        • says

          It does. Certainly puts things into perspective, that’s for sure.

          And thank you very much! I hope you manage to get here in the not too distant future. You’ll have a great time when you do.

  5. D says

    I found it interesting that I saw more homeless people in a few weeks in Tokyo than in most of a year in Osaka.

    • says

      That is interesting. Not spent much time in Osaka, but for some reason I assumed the problem would be just the same — possibly even worse.

    • says

      At this time of year in Tokyo, the sun offers some very welcome warmth. He’s presumably just making the most of it.

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