It's hard to find public trash cans in Tokyo

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Hello BBS! New commenter here. My first comment: during my trip to Japan (10 years ago now… ugh) my experience was that 7-11 convenience stores, which are all over the place, were the best places to get rid of litter, including ashtrays for cigarette butts. The bins were usually outside by the door.

I was generally very impressed with how clean everywhere was (Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima) and how every morning, at around 7 am, business owners as well as residents were out either picking up trash or scrubbing sidewalks with soapy water. Enough to make me want to move there and kiss the selfish, lazy, sloppy and irresponsible USA good bye. I feel that way even more strongly now…


Welcome to the Boingz, comrade.


That’s not a tourist, that’s John Grant!

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Knapsack. Say it a few times. Knapsack. You’ll start to fall in love with that word.


One of the most annoying things about visiting Japanese cities in the Fall or Spring (when my allergies to pollen are at their worst).

Japanese bathrooms however are a mixed bag depending on how far you are from a major city.

There’s a pun here somewhere:

tip verb
[ I or T, usually + adv/prep ] uk (us dump) to get rid of rubbish by putting it in a place where it should not be:
A lot of waste is being tipped into the sea.
The sign by the side of the road said “No tipping”.


For all the packaging they have, trash doesn’t seem to exist there. It’s possibly a time-space warp.

I recently witnessed a couple new Japanese students trying to decipher the unlabeled bins in the food court at the university I work at. I was tempted to try to tell them that all bins lead to the landfill.


I don’t speak Japanese, so I just interpreted the lack of public trash bins to mean “stick your trash in your backpack and throw it away when you return to your lodging.”
It’s similar to how I interpreted the easy accessibility of clean restrooms to mean “don’t urinate in the alleyway.”
Then there were the routine English instructions located all over the subway system which I took to mean “You should have some idea how this works and where you’re going.”
It’s difficult being an English speaker in Japan. Just not as difficult as being an English speaker in America.


Fanny Pack


I asked my Japanese teacher when I lived in Tokyo in 2005. She said once there were public bins and they vanished some time after the Tokyo Subway Sarin attack in the 90s.


Welcome Motoguzzi.

I’m a Tokyo resident since 1991. Yes, we used to have trash bins here and there but they disappeared in 1995 after the sarin attacks.

The convenience stores have mostly moved their bins indoors, since you were here, to stop people from bring garbage from elsewhere. They are usually near the doors, but where the clerks could see you. You can also usually find garbage cans just inside the entrance of super markets, in fast food places. They are meant for things you bought there. People generally don’t eat on the go or open purchases until they get home, so don’t produce so much trash on the go. What you do end up with, you pocket until you get home. Festivals and hanami parties are an exception, when some parks put out large waste collection areas - things usually get messy.


Lived in Japan for three years and a lot of other stuff that goes with that.

Yeah, I agree with the first commenter in that コンビニ (convenience stores, like 7-11, Lawson, which are everywhere) are best places to get rid of public trash.

There really aren’t many public garbage cans in Japan generally speaking because the idea is mostly you have the sense to take your garbage back to wherever you live and dispose of it there.

Which leads to an endless stream of middle-aged women going through your garbage once a week making sure you threw things out in the right one of five separate piles of garbage, and often leads to unpleasant knocks on your door as a stranger proceeds to tell you how to sort your garbage, and furthermore makes the assumption that because you are a foreigner you can’t somehow functionally throw away garbage correctly.

Certain things about living there were a pain in the ass. I don’t miss strangers going through my garbage to berate me at all


It was not due the sarin attacks, they had started to go before that—even the ones in suburban parks are no longer there. The problem was that people used to throw their domestic trash away in them and so they were removed to ‘cut down on the amount of garbage’. This is particularly true now that you have to pay to have your trash collected.


@ RandomDude
If you often got unpleasant knocks on your door, then it would appear that “the assumption that because you are a foreigner you can’t somehow functionally throw away garbage correctly” would appear to be not far from the mark.


Actually, I did not.

What I did get is old women constantly asking me if I was the one who threw out item “X”, because a Japanese person would know better and I lived in an apartment block where there were many foreigners.

I don’t like people nosing through my trash or the idea that’s acceptable regardless of culture. Its really fucking rude to go through another person’s garbage because you feel you have the right to. Its invasive no matter who you are in either country. Plenty of native Japanese find it just as annoying when some retiree who designates themself block captain goes around doing this.


You can actually find trash cans but the one (and only) time i went to Japan i found the trash cans typically at parks, nature/hiking trails, etc. Occasionally it was still possible to find them in other spots, by train stations, bathrooms and other similar types of hubs but honestly i just mentally prepared myself for not having access to a trash can and i stashed everything in my backpack. I typically don’t snack, drink soda, etc so i don’t make a lot trash when i’m out and a about so it was never much of a concern when i visited the country :slight_smile:

That poor Argentinian guy looked like he was going to collapse from anxiety. Good on him for mustering the fortitude, though.

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Do people smoke while walking on the sidewalk? If so, do they carry their cigarette butts home with them?

Yes, they have pocket ash trays to extinguish and then carry home the cigarette butts.
I wish people did that in the US.