|RANT 'N' RAVE
The Big Tokyo Trash Mystery
by Francois Amoretti
Tokyo. Where else in the world can you
find a city that is so clean and that at the same time has so few trash cans? It doesn't
Say you go to the convenience store to buy an obento. After consuming your meal
you end up with the following trash inventory: One plastic shopping bag, one plastic top
and one bottom tray to the obento, two chopsticks, one paper wrapping for the chopsticks,
one toothpick and its paper wrapper, that funny green, serrated plastic stuff that
separates certain foods and looks like grass, one foil cup for the oshinko
(pickled radish), one wet towelette and its plastic outer wrapper and one receipt. That's
13 items and that's a lot of trash for one trip to the combini.
Now go looking for a trash can. You will not find one. You may find a standing ash can for
cigarette butts (it will be full and smoking like an incense burner on steroids), or even
some of those recycling bins that have specifically shaped entry holes, but of course you
would never put unauthorized trash in there-would you?
So let's review. Tokyo. Lots of trash. No trash cans. No litter on the streets.
In order to solve this mystery, I did some checking around. Based on my exhaustive
investigative efforts leaving no stone unturned, I was finally able to determine where all
the trash goes. And if you are one of the thousands of bicyclists in Tokyo who park their
bicycles on the Tokyo sidewalks (illegally - receiving threatening yellow tags attached to
your handlebars) during the day I am here to stand up and say "thank you." For
it seems that all of Tokyo's mystery trash is ending up in your bicycle baskets. So next
time you are in need of a trash can, just head for the nearest unaccompanied bicycle and
deposit your gomi freely and unashamedly where it belongs - in the black mesh basket on
the front of the handlebars.
In a way, it seems all too fair. There's a shortage of legal areas to park bicycles. So,
riders break the rules by parking their bicycles in unauthorized areas. Instead of getting
a fine or getting their bicycles impounded, they earn the right to park by being punished
with the duty of busing Tokyo's trash out of the city. Something tells me an office full
of city planners spent some serious time figuring out this scheme.
The Tokyo trash mystery is solved. Now you know.
Many thanks to sleuth Craig Briggs for this Rant.