Romancing the sponge

The atomization of society has inevitably led to more and more elderly people living alone and, consequently, dying alone, too. In 2006 in Tokyo, 357 old people died in public housing units without anyone knowing until days or even weeks after they passed. One of the biggest “danchi” (apartment house complexes) in Tokyo is the Toyama Danchi, located about 10 minutes from Takadanobaba station in the center of the city. This particular complex is for low-income people, which means a fair number of older people live there. At present, almost 52% of the residents are over 65. This is not accidental, however. It has been very carefully planned. Read More

Where they go to die

Several weeks ago in Shibukawa, a town about 100 kilometers north of Tokyo, ten bedridden residents of a private nursing home died in a fire that was probably caused by a cigarette. The idea that one of the elderly men who lived in the facility was smoking proved to be less of a media scandal than the social circumstances surrounding the facility and how these particular people ended up there. Though it’s no secret that older people basically go to nursing homes to die, in this case they just did it a little sooner. Read More