Vernicious Knids

Random musings and snapshots about life, love, travel and everything in between...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Nothing but trash...

With over 12 million people – and approximately 50 million crows – living in Tokyo; disposal of waste is big business. Japan being an ordered and harmonious society has a large number of rules to follow regarding correct disposal of garbage. For the newbie, this is one of the most challenging aspects of settling in. You start to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about rubbish and what to do with it. You eat a banana and immediately wonder if the peel is considered burnable or non-burnable. Chocolate bar wrapper – where should it go? Unfashionable clothing – keep it or throw it…which day can I throw it out? Luckily, all Ward Offices produce a colourful “How to Separate and Put Out Household Rubbish for Collection” poster to display on your fridge. There are numerous cute diagrams and pictures detailing when, where and how to trash your garbage.

This morning I went to take the recycling out for collection – a giant bag of PET bottles, glass bottles, cans, boxes and newspapers. It was quite chilly out so I hurried to the collection point. I began to divide the items up and put them in their correct places. It’s tedious but easy enough to do…the boxes are open so you can clearly see where to put the various items. An obaa-san (older woman) suddenly came up to me and grabbed the bag from my hand. Most amusingly she also took the Perrier bottle and Becks can I’d already put down back into the bag. "Dame, dame" (bad, bad) she said. She then put the Perrier bottle and Becks can into exactly the same boxes I had! She was talking constantly in Japanese while sorting – basically explaining to me where to put everything! I waited patiently till she had finished, she looked at me and I said “Daijoubu desu ka? Honto ni sumimasen” (Is it okay now? I'm sorry to have troubled you) with a bow. She looked more closely at me and said “Nihongo wa jouzu desu ne” (you speak good Japanese) and smiled at me. Walking back home I started laughing…she thinks my Japanese is great but I’m unable to recycle correctly?! From now on I’ll just have to put my recycling out at night time when there’s no one around.

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  • At 2:49 am, Anonymous ohio steph said…

    Is this for real? Glad I can toss my trash in the can any old time here in Ohio. Good luck with the stealth trash runs.

  • At 1:11 pm, Blogger verniciousknids said…

    This story is 100% true ohio steph! Back in Oz we have giant wheelie bins - I really miss them sometimes!

    Thanks for visiting.


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