Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Boat Graveyard

In Japan there is a well-known phenomenon called gomiyashiki ("trash mansion"), wherein people (usually elderly people who live alone) are found occupying horribly filthy homes, often piled high with wall-to-wall garbage. This story, however, puts a new twist on that issue:

At the mouth of the Nomikawa River, near Haneda Airport in Tokyo's Ota Ward, city officials are working to clean up a site that was occupied for eight years by an elderly "drifter" (if you'll pardon the pun).

The occupant of the site, described as a man in his 60s, had amassed a fleet of 45 abandoned boats, mooring them all together in the waters north of the airport in what can only be described as a "boat graveyard." When confronted by reporters, the man claimed he was responsible for the boats' repair. He appeared to take offense when the press asked him about his suijou seikatsu ("marine lifestyle").

In addition to the boats, the man had accumulated a large quantity of trash and abandoned materials and used it to fashion a multi-level "home" on the waterside. The man used strategically positioned stepladders to get from boat to boat and from one level of his shelter to another. 30 to 40 dogs, many of whom seem to follow the man wherever he goes, were also discovered living in the shelter.

The video below is in Japanese with no English subtitles, but it gives you a sense of the Herculean task faced by the clean-up crew. They expect to finish the job this Friday, March 21.


carey said...

All done by March 21? Riiiiiight...

Jesse Jace said...

Right at the end of the video, she says the clean-up will cost several tens of millions yen of taxpayer money.