Sanya: One of the Poorest Areas in Tokyo

Text and photos by Paul del Rosario

If you search the web for SANYA, Tokyo, many of the sites that will come up will undoubtedly have some of the following keywords: homeless, yakuza, poor, dirty, stinky, laborer, cheap, riots, killed, Yoshiwara, brothel, etc. I think you get the picture. That’s pretty much how it was back in 2011 when I went there and took this set of photos (I’m just getting around now to putting them on this blog). Although I haven’t been there since, I would imagine that it’s pretty much the same as it was when I visited, and as it has been since the 1950s.

In this set, I purposely did not take photos of the homeless because: 1. I wanted to focus on just Sanya “The Place;” 2. I didn’t want to get my ass kicked by the yakuza (if they happened to be around and in a pissed off mood). However, the situation for the down and out in Sanya should definitely be brought to light.

Land Rover

6 (15)

6 (10)

6 (8)







“Smell piss everywhere in this area.” Quote from the “No Future Tokyo” blog Yup. That’s what it smelled like. The guy who manages this blog has been delivering blankets for the homeless in Sanya since 2005. Well done!

Another set of beautiful photos of Sanya by documentary photographer, Noriko Hayashi.


5 thoughts on “Sanya: One of the Poorest Areas in Tokyo

  1. Glad you mentioned Motoyan (No Future Tokyo). He is probably the most underrated street photographer in Japan right now. I know him well, he’s the real deal and it shows in his photography. He has some real good work from Sanya as well, sure you seen it. 4649

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