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Down and Out in Late Meiji Japan$
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James L. Huffman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780824872915

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824872915.001.0001

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The Slum Setting

The Slum Setting

Moving In and Settling Down

(p.25) Chapter 1 The Slum Setting
Down and Out in Late Meiji Japan

James L. Huffman

University of Hawai'i Press

After a description of a “ typical” hinmin day in Tokyo, the chapter examines the forces that caused Japan’s cities to mushroom and slums to explode numerically after the 1880s, in particular the mass migration of young farm males because of rural economic disasters. The slums (hinminkutsu) and other poverty pockets where they lived are then described, not only as grim and polluted places but as neighborhoods full of energy and variety. In Osaka, the poor lived primarily in the south; in Tokyo, they lived in shitamachi—the northeastern wards such as Asakusa and Fukagawa along the Sumida River. A discussion follows of hinmin living spaces. The greatest numbers lived in cheap, cramped apartments in nagaya or row houses, paying rent by the day; the worst off lived in kichin’yado or flophouses.

Keywords:   Tokyo, Osaka, Hinminkutsu, Shitamachi, Asakusa, Fukagawa

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