San'ya Blues: Laboring Life in Contemporary Tokyo

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Cornell University Press, Aug 1, 1998 - History - 262 pages
2 Reviews
Over the years, Edward Fowler, an American academic, became a familiar presence in San'ya, a run-down neighborhood in northeastern Tokyo. The city's largest day-labor market, notorious for its population of casual laborers, drunks, gamblers, and vagrants, has been home for more than half a century to anywhere from five to fifteen thousand men who cluster in the mornings at a crossroads called Namidabashi (Bridge of Tears) in hopes of getting work. The day-labor market, along with gambling and prostitution, is run by Japan's organized crime syndicates, the yakuza. Working as a day laborer himself, Fowler kept a diary of his experiences. He also talked with day laborers and local merchants, union leaders and bureaucrats, gangsters and missionaries. The resulting oral histories, juxtaposed with Fowler's narrative and diary entries, bring to life a community on the margins of contemporary Japan.Located near a former outcaste neighborhood, on what was once a public execution ground, San'ya shows a hidden face of Japan and contradicts the common assumption of economic and social homogeneity. Fowler argues that differences in ethnicity and class, normally suppressed in mainstream Japanese society, are conspicuous in San'ya and similar communities. San'ya's largely middle-aged, male day-laborer population contains many individuals displaced by Japan's economic success, including migrants from village communities, castoffs from restructuring industries, and foreign workers from Korea and China. The neighborhood and its inhabitants serve as an economic buffer zone—they are the last to feel the effects of a boom and the first to feel a recession. They come alive in this book, telling urgent stories that personify such abstractions as the costs of modernization and the meaning of physical labor in postindustrial society.
  

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Review: San'ya Blues: Laboring Life in Contemporary Tokyo

User Review  - Bahia - Goodreads

This book is an ethnographic study of a particular region of Tokyo where day laborers live and search for work, usually living hand-to-mouth. While this book doesn't have a narrative flow, it captures ... Read full review

Review: San'ya Blues: Laboring Life in Contemporary Tokyo

User Review  - Sven Waldmann - Goodreads

A well-researched, yet very personal insight into the world of the people behind Japan's economic growth, the day-labourers in the quarter of Sanya. This book seems to have been out for some years ... Read full review

Contents

Prefectures of Japan
7
Sanya and environs
18
The Sanya doyagai 22
43
LIVES
53
WORK
175
EPILOGUE
225
Memory as Oral History
231
Glossary
239
Suggested Readings
245
Index of Pseudonyms
261
Copyright

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