Friday night outside Shinjuku station, I noticed a salary man lying unconscious in a flower bed. The two young women sitting next to him wondered what this foreigner was photographing. I mentioned that in the United States, it’s not safe to be passed out in public, but they laughed and said, “It’s OK.”
I marvel at the safety of Tokyo, the world’s largest city, where it is not uncommon to see well-dressed people passed out from inebriation on sidewalks, train platforms, and occasionally on top of plants. There seems something poetic almost about the juxtaposition of office worker, flower and soil. Like seeing early elementary school children riding the trains alone, seeing adults passed out in public makes me reflect on how rarely we can feel free, unguarded and safe in United States and European cities.
In both cases, Japanese hardly notice that these things are happening. It’s just normal and “OK.”