I Hate You Japan

Your trash situation stinks.

Here's why:

1. Your public trash cans are few and far between. Parks, malls, sidewalks, bus stops, streets, shopping centers — very rarely will there be a bin or dumpster to pitch anything. Needless to say I walk around with my trash in my purse more than I'd like to admit.
2. You obsessively over-package everything. Each piece of fruit has not only its own styrofoam jacket for padding, it might also sit in a waxed paper tray then be wrapped in saran wrap or sit in a clear plastic container. And inside of a box or bag, every cookie or cracker or dried fig or chocolate covered almond is often wrapped in plastic ... individually. WTF!

3. Your residential trash removal system is draconian. I have to buy expensive, special yellow bags in which to put burnables, meaning anything other than recyclables. I have a mere three hours (5am-8am ... really?) in which I must deposit the bag in the small cage down my street, twice a week.

4. You have no donation bins. I asked around and people looked at me like no one wants your gross old clothes and said they just throw theirs away because, duh? doesn't everyone? We're supposed to pitch clothes, shoes and any other cast-offs into the burnable trash. People here really like to buy everything brand new so second-hand and thrift stores are very selective about what they take AND you have to stand in line just to get 15 cents for anything. Not happening. Besides, it's difficult for me to hang around for too long in a store called "Hard Off" thankyouverymuch.
5. Your recycling system is a thing of nightmares. Mostly because I have to do all the work. Milk cartons have to be rinsed, cut, flattened and dropped off at the grocery store in a special bin. Clear plastic (sushi) containers, styrofoam trays, and bottle caps each have their own bins there too. All the bins are always overflowing. Glass bottles are placed in small crates left out on our street the night before pick up, which occurs every other week during another early three hour window of time, but on a different day than the burnable trash. Paper is flattened into no more than 24" square and bound with paper string. Plastic bottles go in an even more expensive special clear plastic bag and are also picked up every other week during yet another short window of time. Same goes for aluminum cans, and if you have old batteries, they go in a smaller special clear plastic bag inside the bag with the cans. Aerosol cans, which must be punctured before recycling, go with the glass. Yes, punctured. Yard waste must be sorted and bound according to thickness and type, then placed in larger special plastic bags; it's only picked up once a month. Pet waste is to be flushed down the toilet. Kitchen organic waste is left draining in the sink until it's dry at which point it's put in another plastic bag and added to burnable trash.

So. If you actually got through all that, imagine how I feel. It's practically a full-time job. To make matters worse, recycling days switch around sometimes based on holidays, sometimes not. I learned all of this the hard way. When I get it wrong, the neighborhood association ladies come round to let me know. It's a good thing they're so polite or I'd bitch slap them.

Unsurprisingly, litter in Japan is a big problem for all the reasons listed above. It seems I'm not the only one who feels the system is utterly retarded. Beaches in particular are literally dumping grounds. So much that I simply do not go there. Don't believe me? Here's a photo of the beach near my house.
This goes for miles in both directions. Imagine my surprise and horror. It's disgusting and sad as fuck. Broken glass is all over the place. So no, I won't be walking my dogs out there. EVER.
Here's some rusted out hi-fi equipment (probably Sony) next to a fire pit. That seems safe. Toxic? Nah!
This is a pachinko slot machine on one of the coastal walking trails. Quaint, no?
I call this "Still Life with Ski Boot"
And this was dumped under the bridge near my house where I DO walk my dogs. It wasn't the first TV I've seen out there.
Took this photo on our walk three days ago.

Yeah ... I used to really care about the environment. Like, a lot. But I no longer give a fuck thanks to Japan.

Now that you're depressed and probably feeling suicidal (sorry!) I promise that my next post will be about the nice side of Japan. Trust me, it does exist.


  1. W.H.O.A. There just aren't adequate words to describe those rubbish piles (though when I first saw the slot machine, all I could think of was that scene in Office Space where they kicked the crap out of the copy machine.) ;) Hard to believe a country so advanced on the tech front is so lame on recycling and makes it so incredibly difficult. What's up with that?

    Can't wait for the next installment. So looking forward to seeing the pretty side of Japan especially after seeing those beach scenes. You're right not to take the dogs anyway near there! P.S. Love the tag name (I hate you Japan). Miss you! :)

    1. LOVE that scene in Office Space! Yeah, Japan doesn't appear to be open to new or different recycling systems, at least not where I live where they're either turning a blind eye to the issue or simply don't have the funds to deal with it. It's been eye-opening in so many ways living over here – I need to be better about taking the bad with the good!