For hundreds of years people have come to Sanya in search of labouring jobs, shelter and a sense of belonging – but the area is changing fast, and its residents are struggling to adapt
At first sight, Sanya looks much like any other Tokyo suburb: well-appointed homes, supermarkets and fast-food restaurants. In the distance, soaring above the rooftops and mesh of overhead power lines is the unmistakable shape of the Tokyo Skytree.
But its proximity to the ultra-modern landmark is deceptive. Older men in well-worn tracksuits, baseball caps and plastic slippers clutch cans of early-afternoon chu-hi alcopops, and dozens of no-frills hostels advertise rooms with easily the lowest rates in the city – clues to Sanya’s status as a Tokyo neighbourhood like no other, but one that is struggling to adapt to irresistible change.
You won’t find Sanya on any modern maps. In 1966, the government ordered the name Sanya to be expunged from official recordsContinue reading...