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Under the Risen Sun

Niagara Region's Japan Team 2008 exposition of homelessness and the sex industry in Japan.
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Displaced (Red Dress), Japan : © Kyle Jaster 2008

Taken in Yoshiwara, a high class and very private sex district in Tokyo. I was taking a picture of the dark alleyway as a prostitute stepped out into it. Caught off-guard, she tried to return back inside but found she was locked out.

"There are over 30 million VICTIMS of human trafficking and modern day slavery in the world today." - US Trafficking in Persons Report, 2004
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Red Light Night, Japan : © Christine Jennings 2008

While in Shinjuku standing outside the AM/PM, I was able to see many of the girls going to and from work. On many occasions the girls were elegantly dressed with their hair done and in a man's suit jacket or a wrap to stay warm on the cool Japan nights. It would be difficult to stand by and watch them walk by you, understanding the situations at hand. The sex industry we were exposed to is not only international girls but Japanese girls as well. Not to be confused with Geisha, these girls are like their international counterparts. We were informed that the Japanese women in the sex industry were more desired by Japanese clients and made more money than other girls from places like the Philippines and China.
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Geisha, Japan : © Kyle Jaster 2008

The profession of a Geisha is often misinterpreted and confused with that of a prostitute. Geisha are traditional, female Japanese entertainers, whose skills include performing various Japanese arts, such as classical music and dance. Geisha engagements may include flirting with men and playful innuendos; however, clients know that nothing more can be expected.
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Life Just Beyond, Japan : © tasha m g hakeem 2008

At one of the busiest intersections in Shibuya, Tokyo, a homeless woman sleeps alongside some daisies. I wonder how many people stop to smell the flowers, or pause long enough to notice life just beyond.

"To care for anyone else enough to make their problems one's own, is ever the beginning of one's real ethical development." - Felix Adler
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Emperor's Palace, Japan : © Kyle Jaster 2008

Being in Japan, and focusing on injustices, it is still hard to miss the beauty. However, how easily do we miss what is behind it when we're not looking. A lot of people in Japan live by the idea that if they don't see it then it's not there. This is not a realistic way of thinking for this is when people get hurt.
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
This picture was taken at the Emperor's Palace in Tokyo, one of the great beauties of Japan.
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Glamorous Illusions, Japan : © Nathan D Hakeem 2008

This shot was taken of a girl among the back alleys of Kabukicho, which was once one of the most notorious trafficking areas of Japan. Areas like Kabukiko house over 17,500 sex-related businesses across Japan. In contrast to foreign trafficked girls looking to flee from poverty, deceived and forced into the sex industry, many Japanese women willfully enter into this industry simply based on materialistic desires. It is reported that Japanese "soapland" masseuse's can make up to $100,000 per year, enabling her to own status belongings such as another Louis Vuitton bag. Though it's one thing that many of these Japanese woman choose to enter this industry, it's another thing as to whether or not they can just as easily leave, in light of the mafia control.
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Dirty, Dangerous and Deserve to be there, Japan : © Christine Jennings 2008

In Japan the homeless do not beg for money or food. They sit in the street, live in small self-built homes along the river, and still remain respectful to themselves and the space around them. The attitude towards the homeless can be categorized by the 3 D's: dirty, dangerous, and deserve to be there. This is the furthest from the truth, we discovered quite quickly during our homeless feed in Japan. Many are men in their 50's that have a disability or their families have left them. They work very little or not at all because of their health. Like our homeless, they do not deserve to be in their situation and misconceptions of who they are only create distance and ignorance.
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Today's Selection, Japan : © Mary Anne Afable 2008

Japan caters to "snack bars" that provide acquaintance and company for both men and women. These are known as "host" and "hostess" clubs. This image captures a woman in front of a billboard outside one such club, looking at a selection of men available for her possible company.

"Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings." - Helen Keller
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Dusk over Kyoto, Japan : © Nathan D Hakeem 2008

From Kiyomizu temple, dusk is seen setting upon a beautiful and historic Kyoto. There is something majestic of Japan's beauty that reaches far beyond even some of the most impressive architecture and geographic scenery in the world. Rather it is a beauty that speaks of the way the Japanese have preserved, nurtured, and passed on their heritage for generation upon generation. I met a man whose family have been the head shrine masters of a Shinto temple for over 800 years. It is hard to fathom this kind of tradition when the country I'm from isn't even 250 years old. Kyoto alone has been a major city in Japan for over 1200 years.
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Displaced, Japan: © Nathan D Hakeem 2008

A homeless man in Tokyo finds a spot along a busy street to sleep for the night. Contrary to stereotypical homeless in North America, homeless in Japan are not those we would normally consider apathetic, drug addicted, or beggars. Rather the majority of homeless are forced out of their jobs because of age, and in turn out of their homes and lives of their families... a stigma in the workplace, and now a stigma in society. The average age of homeless in Japan is 56 years old, and over fifty percent of these are men who used to work in construction; men who played a key role in helping Japan get back on its feet and flourish after World War 2. Now, at an age considered not of use anymore, these men are losing their jobs with no help or opportunity for other work.
"'I apply for the position many times, but companies never look at my skill but only pay attention to my age.' The number of homeless people in Japan is on the rise, and experts say that ingrained cultural attitudes about age are exacerbating the situation." - "Japan's homeless face ageism", T. Kambayashi
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Hidden Identity, Japan : © tasha m g hakeem 2008

It's rare to see their tattoos - markings that identify them for who they are. Though at this religious festival where men's legs are uncovered and some tattoos peak out along the bottom of their sleeves, the Yakuza are easily seen.

The Yakuza - the Japanese Mafia - control 70% of Japan's Sex Industry.
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Beauty Overshadowed, Japan : © Christine Jennings 2008

Our team was reminded numerous times to look for the beauty in Japan while being exposed to all the darkness that lay underneath it. On our last week in Japan we had the chance to go to Kyoto and visit the Kiyomizu Temple. The word Kiyomizu can be translated as "pure water". Japan is a beautiful and historical place, exemplified by the scenery in many areas including the mountains hidden shyly behind this pagoda (tiered building) and the beautiful architecture silhouetted by the sun.
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Hustler, Japan : © Kyle Jaster 2008

These guys work the streets each night with the sole purpose of trying to recruit beautiful girls to work as "eye candy" in Snack Bars. They are very aggressive in their gestures and body language towards these girls. Staring them up and down provocatively, followed by walking alongside them putting their arms around the girls and pulling them from where ever they were previously headed.
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Not Just a Fashion Statement, Japan : © Mary Anne Afable 2008

This image was captured while waiting on the subway from our trip to one of Tokyo's red light districts. Upon our approach, this woman noticed one of our male team members and briefly took her fur coat off to reveal a red lingerie dress underneath.

"The disturbing tendency to treat prostitution as a business or industry not only contributes to the trade in human beings, but is itself evidence of a growing tendency to detach freedom from the moral law and to reduce the rich mystery of human sexuality to a mere commodity." - Pope John Paul II
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Waiting, Japan : © tasha m g hakeem 2008

At noon each Saturday, Ueno Park sees hundreds of homeless line up for Second Harvest Japan's weekly 'Homeless Feed'. A lot of the volunteers do not go out of their way to engage with the homeless, they go only as far as to dish up their portions. The majority are men, though we saw a couple women. Our interpreter compared how Japanese society views the homeless to how American society viewed AIDS victims in the 1980's ? ignorant. We sat with a few men and listened. One man in particular shared openly about his life. His family no longer has contact with him due to his homeless state.
One moment he had a family, the next moment, he was alone.

"Since when do you have to agree with people to
defend them from injustice?" - Lillian Hellman
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A Look Beyond, Japan : © Mary Anne Afable 2008

This image displays the combination of old Kyoto and new Kyoto City. Looking beyond the beauty from the inside of this temple is the modern city of Kyoto; it's new buildings and structures. The beauty of Japan is in how they keep it's old beauty alive.
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Under the Risen Sun, the invitation 2008