It’s been a long time since I virtually traveled to Japan last time. There is a glimpse of longing feeling towards that country of monsters (according to Kamen Rider, Ultraman, and Power Ranger). Then I unintentionally found a topic which I think it might be very interesting to share at this blog. It is about a city that is not listed on the map of Japan.
When I found that topic, my wild imagination flew to the manga Eden no Ori (Cage of Eden), which tells about an island filled with various prehistoric animals.
That island was so mysterious it was not even listed on the world map. And at the ending it turns out that the island was intentionally kept secret for some reason (I can’t mention it as it would be a spoiler).
The problem is, the island on Eden no Ori is a secluded island. Considering that Japan has been known as a very advanced city, is it true that there is a city in Japan that is not listed on the map?
And, voila! Yes, there is indeed a city in Japan which is intentionally not listed on Japan map. It is Kamagasaki, a city within a city whose existence is not acclaimed by the Japanese government. It is even got covered up. Are you curious about what is Kamagasaki like?
A Brief About Kamagasaki
Why did I write Kamagasaki as a city within a city? That is because Kamagasaki is indeed not a real city. This place is an area which is actually a part of Nishininari at Osaka, precisely it is in the areas of Nishinari-ku Taishi, Haginochaya, Sanno, North Hanazono, and Tengachaya. The name of Kamagasaki has existed since 1922, but the official name of this place is Airin-chiku (used since 1966). The area is about 1-2 square kilometers wide.
What Is Kamagasaki Like?
On the contrary with the image of Japan as a modern country, and especially the image of Osaka as one of the biggest cities in Japan, Kamagasaki is the biggest slum area in Japan. Because it is considered to not meet the Japanese’s standard of living, the government considered that Kamagasaki doesn’t exist.
Even the government of Osaka doesn’t allow the name of Kamagasaki to show up on its official map. It is also been recorded that the government tried many times to limit the mentioning of Kamagasaki name in various media (including taking back the movie titled “Fragile” from Osaka Asian Film Festival as the movie portrayed the Kamagasaki area).
Due to that, the name of Kamagasaki only exists from ear to ear and the population number remains unknown. But some people predicted there are about 30,000 people live in Kamagasaki.
What Are There in Kamagasaki?
For now, the population at Kamagasaki is dominated by the joblesses, part-timers, and labours. Plenty of them came to this place after getting fired by the company they worked for, just to runaway from the truth of life. Some even ran away to avoid the law penalty.
So don’t get surprised if the images of homeless people (most of them are senior citizens) sleep on the street side is being the normal images to find in Kamagasaki, inclusing the images of homeless queueing to get free foods from non-profit organizations.
Other images commonly found in Kamagasaki is the numerous amount of cheap hotel known as “doya”. Same applies with cheap bar, and people gathering on the park to watch TV together.Nonetheless, you can still find some schools at Kamagasaki such as Junior High School and Theology school. There are also some other buildings such as Nishinari Labor Hello Work, Airin Labor and Welfare Center, and Nishinari Citizen Center.
Kamagasaki also has several holidays, such as Kamagasaki May Day (May 1st), Kamagasaki Summer Festival (August 13rd-15th), Come Here Festival, various concerts, and so on. The point is, although Kamagasaki is not a normal imaginable place from Japan, either it is not a favorite tourism destination even for the locals, this place is pretty interesting to know for those who wanna know about the real Japan.
Is Kamagasaki Dangerous?
Actually, that depends on how you define dangerous. There were indeed several crimes ever recorded, including the rebels against local police officers. Kamagasaki also becomes the place for yakuza members to gather. There are also many yakuzas whose basecamp is in this area (it is said that there are about 90 yakuza offices here).
Not to mention that the alcohol consumpsion is very high here. And since most pupils are man, there are barely spaces left for women at this place (unless you have some “business affair” in Kamagasaki). No wonder if any females would feel uncomfortable to be at this area.Even so, Kamagasaki people are actually very friendly, have strong friendship bond, and are also educated. At least they are literate. Mostly, their routinity starts with reading newspaper. As most of them are the victims of economical crisis, many of Kamagasaki people have wide view about politic and economical affairs. Wider than office workers in general that they could be an interesting friend to share your thoughs. So in the end, there are also people who prefer the word “unique” to explain about Kamagasaki after getting socialized directly with the locals.
Why Would I Share About Kamagasaki?
There is a reason why I am interested to write about Kamagasaki. I simply want to inform that even a country as modern as Japan is not a perfect country. So don’t look upon other countries too much and resent your own country. Because other countries are not always as good as it may seem. So it is better to focus on building your own country, am I correct?
Oh and if you are interested to see Kamagasaki, this place could be reached by Shin-Imamiya Station (Nankai Main Line, Koya Line, Osaka Loop Line), Imaike Station (Hankai Line), Dobutsuen-mae Station (Midosuji Line, Sakaisuji Line). I hope the information is useful.
* All pictures were taken through creative commons. There are no editting from the original pictures. Name credits are based on the username on flickr/wikimedia.
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