Lisa, who declined to give her last name, is 18. Her family lived in Fukushima, but couldn’t afford housing after losing their jobs following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Her mother came first to Tokyo to look for work, and Lisa followed. They’ve lived in adjoining booths for 16 months.
In Fukushima, Lisa was a cashier in a convenience store for 650 yen an hour. In the past three months she’s had about 15 job interviews at convenience stores, a supermarket, and a lunch box stand, all which pay about 1,000 yen an hour.
Her mother is an office clerk. Each day at about 9 a.m., Lisa walks to the train station with her. Then she goes to a job interview—if she has one. If not, she stays at the cafe all day trying to get a high school diploma online. The cafe’s near the red-light district, and she’s scared of “dirty old men” who proposition her. “I feel depressed in the booth and sleep a lot,” she says.