Community Japanby Fernando Vieira
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ABOUT THE ART
Kamagasaki has been a place name since 1922. An accurate count of occupants has never been produced, even in the national census, due to the large population of day laborers who lack permanent addresses. Daily life in Kamagasaki in the 1950s was photographed by Seiryū Inoue, who won the 1961 Newcomer's Prize awarded by the Japan Photography Critics` Society for "One Hundred Faces of Kamagasaki". It has the largest day laborer concentration in the country. 30,000 people are estimated to live in every 2,000 meter radius in this area, part of which has been in slum-like conditions until as recently as 2012, containing run-down housing structures and untidy streets.
The area surrounding Kamagasaki is upscale, clean and attracts tourists with popular sightseeing spots including the Tsutenkaku, Shinsekai, and Nipponbashi. However, in Kamagasaki, homeless people can often be seen sleeping in the streets throughout the day, and doya (ドヤ?) hotels (cheap temporary rooms intended for day laborers) abound in the area. These hotels have recently become popular amongst backpackers from outside Japan due to their cheap price and close location to rail transportation.
Non-profit and religious organizations frequently give out food rations, creating long lines of people in public parks. Property values in Kamagasaki are noticeably lower than those of surrounding areas.
Many Bōryokudan offices are located in Kamagasaki, and drug and weapons trafficking is thought to occur daily. Illegal gambling stores are often in business in broad daylight. A seemingly endless line of illegally parked cars extends along the national highway just across from the Nishinari police station. The police do not bother issuing tickets knowing that the fines will never be paid.
The city government of Osaka does not allow the name "Kamagasaki" to appear on official maps and discourages the use of the name in the media. A film set in the neighborhood by director Shingo Ota which was partially financed by the city, called "Fragile", was pulled from the 2013-2014 Osaka Asian Film Festival after Ota refused to cut scenes from the film that identified the location of the community and referenced certain aspects of its culture.