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Monday, July 21

Japanese Peculiarities #5

There are no trash cans in this country! Try and find one. I dare you.

For a country that is all about the recycling (go to the ‘way back’ posts and see my third or fourth blog entry), they sure do not give many opportunities for you to recycle. Outside of your own home, that is. With vending machines at least three deep on each corner and conbinis on every other corner, there is certainly some waste product being produced while the 127,433,494 people on this island (according to a 2007 census) are out and about. Sure, there are the occasional vending machines that have a hole in them… meant for only putting in PET recyclable bottles. But what about the plastic wrapper from the sandwich you bought at the shop down the street? Even the sandwich shop doesn’t offer a trashcan at its store front to get rid of it. No where, will you find a hole for this type of trash. So what are you to do with it? You are supposed to put it in the plastic bag you carry around in your handbag or man purse and throw it out in the proper recycling bin when you get home. Do you know how smelly this will make your purse on hot days like those endured through July and August? On rare occasions, you might get lucky enough to be at the train platform and find a series of trashcans for you to sort your trash into, but seriously… that is rare. And the problem with those is that often the directions of what recyclable goes into what hole are written in Japanese characters unreadable to the untrained eye. So unless you are lucky (or unlucky enough) to come by a smelly and full trashcan, you have no idea which hole to throw which type of trash in.

I simply don't understand what the big deal with trash cans is. Is it an eye sore thing, maybe? A friend once said that the trashcans were removed years ago when there were some scares with bombs being placed in trashcans, but I find that explanation hard to take. When is the last time you heard of a trashcan bomb in Japan? Okay, maybe that is the point… but you know what I mean.

Yet despite my frustration with the inability to toss my trash, you won’t find nary a stray wrapper or bottle anywhere. It wouldn’t be polite to just toss it out into the street or leave it sitting on top of the corner newspaper box. It’s much better to let your sticky, stinky trash leak out of the plastic bag you carry in your handbag and get all over your favorite Shiseido pressed powder compact and MAC lipgloss.

Sometimes, I just don’t get you Japan.

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