home Latest News SUMIMASEN (Excuse me), WHERE’S THE RUBBISH BIN?



There were so many vending machines in Kyoto and Osaka (and all over Japan, I suppose) but rubbish bins were nowhere to be found!

I came to this realisation when I wanted to throw the wrapper to an ice-cream that I bought from a vending machine just outside the train station while we were in Kyoto.

We looked everywhere for rubbish bins, but they’re nowhere to be found!

“There’s no rubbish bins in Jalan!”

Initially I thought I was making up a lousy unintelligent hypothesis, but as we walk around in search for dustbins, we were amusingly dissapointed not to find one!

Another thing hit me soon after: The streets and pavements were clean!

Now this became a little puzzling to me, but after some reasoning, it did made sense. It is because: since there were no rubbish bins, disposing rubbish became a hassle! (The Japanese don’t consume food while walking, they simply eat while standing at the food vendor and pass back to rubbish to the vendor). It is therefore EASIER not produce rubbish in the first place!

This is an absolute contrast to what’s been going on in our place: the more rubbish bins there are, the dirtier the place becomes!

Having bins at every corners almost encourages people to fill them up.

In Japan, not having bins forces people to keep hold of their rubbish until they find a bin, or better still – not to produce any!

While doing a little research on the internet, I found a related article at the World Economic Forum’s website.

Apparently the Japanese were not really brought up to be really obsessed with cleanliness. Rather, at some point in their nation’s history, they’ve had problems with not having enough landfills to accommodate the amount of rubbish produced due to rapid industrialisation after the war. The Japanese Government then introduced a series of waste management law in the 1990s to curb the issue.

My mind still however believed that there’s more than that. It could be some pre-existing cultural beliefs that help support this new attitude towards rubbish (the word Kaizen did cross my mind, but I think that’s for a different purpose).

On a positive note, 1990’s weren’t really far away. It proved that new positive behaviours can be adopted, provided that there’s a real issue that is shared by everyone and proper enforcements by the government.

On our street level (pun intended) maybe we can begin with taking away the rubbish bins first and see what happens!

Media Unit

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