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Nagoya 'rubbish house' resident may boast mother of all messes


The Japanese term "gomi yashiki," literally "rubbish house," describes the abodes of people who engage in compulsive hoarding. A "gomi yashiki" can be easily recognized by the disorderly overflow of various items, ranging from rusting scrap metal objects to automobile tires, etc, that fill the yard and in extreme cases overflow onto the street.

In addition to being an eyesore and fire hazard, they generate odor and attract rats, cockroaches and other vermin, frequently eliciting complaints from neighbors.

As Typhoon No. 6 approached the coast of Honshu on May 12, Yukan Fuji (May 15) reported that a "gomi yashiki" in Nagoya made the news, when people in the neighborhood began voicing apprehension.

The 3-story building was virtually buried in clutter, and apparently residents were concerned that torrential rains brought on by the typhoon would result in the trash being washed throughout the neighborhood.

"This much rain is nothing to be concerned over," the building's 59-year-old male inhabitant, who is not named in the article, reassured the reporter. "I'm going to stay here all through the night to keep an eye on things. So everything will be fine. Wet cardboard absorbs water and gets heavier, so somewhat surprisingly, there's no worry the boxes will fly off in the wind."

But what about all those empty cans on your roof?

"Ah, well they already blew away, so no worries," shrugged the man, taking a drag on his cigarette. Strewn at his feet were cooking pots, gas burners and bottles of food seasonings.

The man had cleared away a small space on the sidewalk, just enough to accommodate a futon, where he sleeps. He'd been living out on the street from July of last year.

"Some stuff toppled over and I can't open the door to get in," he explains, admitting he hadn't been inside the house "for about four years."

Some 40 years ago, the man's father, who had operated a lumber materials business on the site, rebuilt it as a house. After the death of his father, his mother inherited the property. The man has not held a job since age 27, and it was around that time that he began hoarding rubbish. Electricity, water and other utilities have long since been cut off; the man goes across the street to a hospital to use the toilet facilities, and obtains his water from a spigot in a nearby park.

"From time to time mom sends me some money, what's left from my father's estate," the man tells Yukan Fuji. "Except for my diabetes, which was diagnosed four years ago, I've been pretty healthy."

Somewhat remarkably, the man attempts to justify his trash collection out of patriotic motives.

"People denounce me, saying 'Rubbish, rubbish,' but these days relations between Japan and China have become worse," the man says. "If a war were to break out, what would Japan do? It would need resources like raw materials, right? In such a situation, this stuff would be useful!"

What the man views as "resources," however, the neighbors see as a nuisance.

"There's a big hornet's nest inside, and you can see them flying in and out," an 80-year old female neighbor muttered, adding, "I wish somebody would do something about it." Another expressed fear over a fire breaking out.

Even worse, the trash spilling onto the sidewalk forces primary school students on their way to school to take a short detour. Finally on May 8, Nagoya City issued a written order demanding that the man remove the trash from the street. On May 11, a truck was dispatched to carry it off, but even when filled to capacity, trash still remained on the street.

"We intend to persist in urging him to clean up his place," said a city worker. "If things don't get better, I'd expect we'll go with an order for removal."

An accompanying sidebar points out that in several of Tokyo's 23 central wards ordinances provide for the forcible removal of the offending clutter, upon which the owner will be billed for the cost, with an upward limit of 1 million yen. In other communities, funds are provided to elicit the owner's cooperation. Yukan Fuji notes that Nagoya, however, has yet to enact any legislation to deal with such problems.

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“People denounce me, saying ‘Rubbish, rubbish,’ but these days relations between Japan and China have become worse,” the man says. “If a war were to break out, what would Japan do? It would need resources like raw materials, right? In such a situation, this stuff would be useful!”

He should enter politics.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

A picture would have been nice.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

The crazy thing for me is that the authorities have allowed this to happen. Rather than helping an unstable guy they reroute the kids path. Ricockulous!

He hasn't been in the building for four years, he uses the toilet at a nearby hospital and no one thought to speak to him, intervene, see if he needed help? Everyone turned a 'harmonious' blind eye to it?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

A picture would have been nice.


Results of a Google image search on the words nagoya and "gomi yashiki" (in Japanese): https://goo.gl/aueBHM

I think most of these are the 3-story building mentioned in this article.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Ive been fascinated by the psychology behind this for a long time now. Pretty much ever since the day my mother in law sent my 3 year old daughter a box of crayons, and when we opened them, some were missing, half were used, and in very childlike writing was my sister in laws name on the front, which would have dated them to around 1978. This was now 2007! She had kept them all these years, and her upstairs is a shrine to the 1970s.

No criticism - just wondering the mentality behind it. Could it be a postwar thing? In my job now, I have needed to do research on postwar Japan and they literally had nothing. One woman (now aged 72) told me growing up they often didnt have enough food to eat, and another said they had land and were quite wealthy, but the government took all their land from them and they were forced to go to Osaka and look for work, which they could never find because everyone else was doing the same thing. Eventually the 12 year old daughter supported the family by tutoring!

Amazing stories, but I wonder if this is where the need to horde everything they have has come from? As for younger people like this guy - maybe growing up in poverty? The fact that he hasnt held a job since age 27 is telling. Like hes opted out of society altogether. Or mental illness?

Im purely speculating, but I find the psychology behind all this really interesting.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Just another example of Japan not really knowing how to handle mental illness.

3 ( +5 / -2 )


Throughout my volunteer work to help people with hoarding problems back in school, I learned that many of them are suffering from some kind of mental illness or on medication.

One lady was an animal hoarder, a brilliant, successful woman in retail business who had 20 plus cats and rabbits all around the house. Despite her career success, she never had a romantic relationship and was always lonely. After long day of work, taking care of more than 20 animals became a burden. The house eventually got messier and more unsanitary with food decays, animal feces, hair, and unfortunately, carcasses. Her entire two-family home turned into a giant animal cage that had never been cleaned and filthy air was giving her a severe asthma.

Another lady was suffering from ADHD and desipite her continuous effort and medication, she cannot remember things she had already shopped, where she placed them, or if she had already used/discard them. So she would buy multiple things multiple times making a mass of things in the house, where she would lose things in the sea of random objects. I would find 12 sets of salt and pepper shakers buried in the kitchen mess and she would say, "I couldn't find them! I was about to buy more today." She had tried memo pads to write down things to remember only to quickly lose the memo pad in 10 minutes in a pile of mess. She bought oriental acupuncture kit to enhance her memory and couldn't find the tool that came with it.

Perhaps this guy in the article had gone through depression after the loss of his parents whose house he has taken over?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

“We intend to persist in urging him to clean up his place,” said a city worker. “If things don’t get better, I’d expect we’ll go with an order for removal.”

You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The guy is committing numerous infractions, first and foremost with the garbage on the street and sidewalks. With the fire hazards and other dangers the building itself and contents (and the guy can't get in!!) present, I think it would be fine for the city to go in and clear it out, demolishing it if necessary, with the guy paying the bill. At the very least, they should try to get permission from the guy to do so and put him up in some temporary shelter as compensation.

As for being the saviour of Japan if war should break out, the guy is a nutbag.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The neighbors show great restraint for not having had him over for tea and sorted the problem with a well-placed match.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Mad as a bag of badgers !

1 ( +4 / -3 )

A picture would have been nice.


This link is even better. This is footage from a Japanese variety show featuring the building and its owner.


1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hide and seek anyone?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I saw this in the news a few days ago and was stunned at the amount of trash he had accumulated. It's a 3-story building, the garbage was spilling out into the streets, and he was basically occupying the sidewalk. The school children had to re-route their way to school. It was simply, literally a big mess.

It's definitely a mental and/or psychological illness of some sort. It's this mentality and feeling of not being able to let go of something and the desire to hold on to anything that one considers "valuable" that's the root of it. Usually it's triggered emotionally and psychologically due to a certain life experience or trauma.

There was a BBC documentary on this a few years back on a hoarder in the UK whose was taken over by rubbish. Social workers investigating had to crawl their way into the house due to the packed stuff that was from floor to ceiling, many of which where newspapers dating back more than 30 years ago. The neighbors were complaining, shouting, berating him, etc. and the guy was just as hostile. Finally, the city did something about it and had a psychologist visit and talk with him. Apparently it was about the time of the death of his mother decades ago when he started to hoard things.

At first, it was to hold on to things as keepsakes to remind him of his mom. Soon, it was anything and everything: newspapers, magazines, bottles, canned goods, etc. The psychologist talked some sense to him and said his mom would not want to see this. She would be happy to see him move on with his life. This somehow got to the guy and woke him up. A few days later, neighbors were shocked to see him out and about dressed neatly and starting to clean up. He was doing this every day by himself until neighbors suddenly jumped in to help and pretty soon many in the neighborhood were helping out. In several days' time the house had been cleared, the trash taken out, and most importantly, built good relations with his neighbors. In the end, things turned out well for everyone. Never underestimate the power of the human spirit.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This seems a common occurrence in Japan, I'm puzzled they dont do anything about it. In the UK if it happens the council gets a court order and clears the place handing the bill to the owner. If they can't pay the bill they have to sell the place http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/4327023/Rubbish-hoarder-ordered-to-pay-38000-clean-up-bill.html

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Is the guy receiving welfare or solely dependent upon his poor mama who sends genkinkakitome or deposits money into his bank account from time to time?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sheesh, and I thought I was sloppy! This guy is the King of Klutter!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why wait for war? That stuff could be useful now. As in, recycle it. Actually, I suspect he's kind of kidding with that rationalization. But still, recycle your junk.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This stuff is insane, what Japan needs is a few useful by-laws & enforce them!

That would CLEAR up the mess long before this insanity we see today!

Its awful how property owners here can just let things literally rot & pile up %$%$^ all over the place, Japan would be a lot cleaner place with a few bits of commonsense but as usual that is often in precious short supply country wide!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Sensato. Thanks for the links! Now I understand why they didn't include a pic!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Wow, I just saw the youtube link. This guy is really far out. Like some of the neighbours in the video said, why is it so hard to at least remove the trash from the sidewalk? Inside of the house is of course his property, but surely he does not have the right to occupy public space with his "treasures"?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

heres a google street view https://www.google.com.au/maps/@35.155881,136.895345,3a,75y,359.89h,110.17t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sfYuGWmQt2phaV5G7uUFJCg!2e0!6m1!1e1

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yea, plastic bags full of "resources" with stench would be very useful in an emergency.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

An accompanying sidebar points out that in several of Tokyo’s 23 central wards ordinances provide for the forcible removal of the offending clutter, upon which the owner will be billed for the cost, with an upward limit of 1 million yen. In other communities, funds are provided to elicit the owner’s cooperation. Yukan Fuji notes that Nagoya, however, has yet to enact any legislation to deal with such problems.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The cost of throwing things away here is so high, he may not be able to afford it even if he could be convinced to part with anything (which I don't see happening) and the town doesn't want to foot the bill, so they've been at an impasse for years. We emptied MIL's kura and garages etc and it cost 30 man to have it hauled away, even after I tossed anything allowed into the regular trash, and it was only a couple of truckloads from a neat house. I can't imagine how much it will cost to dispose of all this man's hoard. Taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the bill, and he's never going to start cleaning it up or stop bringing new things home, a messed up situation for all involved.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Life is Good!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For the curious, here is the gomi yashiki: http://tinyurl.com/nyy423c

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

A guy with a vision. Seriously though, I think his place is in a proper institution, not on the streets sleeping on a three story pile of trash...

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

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