Sunday, December 2, 2007


It's now clear that what I thought was a construction site outside my window is actually some kind of archaeological excavation. As you can see from this photo, they are working slowly and following the peculiar patterns of some former structure. This makes sense, because my area was the administrative center of the city during the Naniwa period.

The standard setup for construction workers here is for a crew to consists of some old guys who watch and some young guys who work. The crew outside my window is no exception. Here's a classic example of these two dudes watching a backhoe fill in a big hole it dug the week before. It's not that clear in the photo but the lower guy is just sitting on the top of the stairs below him.

Actually, since I spend a fair my time watching them while I try to think of sentences, I've gotten pretty familiar with their workday. They do stint of work for an hour or so, and then they take a half an hour break. When it was time to take a break from watching that backhoe, the guy in the white helmet went and took a power nap on top of that that thing that looks an I-beam at the bottom of the scaffolding. (They're actually conveyor belts for moving dirt around. I have no idea why they need to use conveyor belts, but I guess it has to to with the excavations. Last week the belts were set up to drop the dirt from a height into the hole that the backhoe is now filling.)

Here's a foreman at a construction site down by one of the big temples to the south of me in Shintennoji. He's got a special helmet and outfit that distinguishes him from the common riffraff. He seemed pretty stoked about his job and literally just stood there watching and smoking cigarettes while I worked in a cafe across the street. Sometimes pedestrians going by, usually old women, would stop and talk to him about the work. He would point things out to them, take off his helmet and gesture with it and then put it back on.

1 comment:

MindOverMatter said...

This seems like a humane system. In North America, construction workers burn out their bodies sometime in their forties. Then what?
I wonder how long a Japanese worker has to pay his dues before he gets to be a watcher?
Can you tell how old the old guys are?
I'd guess that judging the age of the Japanese is a skill you might not have yet.