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People who live in 'gomi yashiki' shouldn't stow bones

30 Comments

Compulsive hoarding is a form of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). One form this occasionally takes in Japan is the notorious "gomi yashiki" -- literally a "rubbish house." The online version of Spa! magazine delves into this topic, with plenty of revolting photographs.

The right to be slovenly is no longer recognized the way it used to be. Communities have finally begun to take action against public eyesores and health menaces, through recent legislation that requires owners to clean up or face eviction, fines or other penalties.

"In the past, most of our customers had been elderly people, but over the last couple of years we've been getting more requests from young people," says Hisayoshi Joto, operator of a specialty cleaning service called e-hin Seiri.

The word e-hin is a play on words for "ihin" which means articles left behind, such as by deceased persons. "Seiri" means to organize.

"Some of the requests we get are from people before they move their residence, or in some cases before some kind of impending inspection, when they need to get their place cleaned up as quickly as possible. Sometimes we'll go and take a look, and more often than not say, 'Yup, that's a gomi yashiki all right.' Often the person requesting our services has some sort of guilty conscience over the place."

"As a general rule, most of the people we deal are salaried workers," notes Joto. "That said, they don't tend to be vivacious, popular types. I'd say most of them are poor at communicating with other people; when you talk with them they avoid making eye contact."

In other words, gomi yashiki tenants tend to be dysfunctional in their human relationships and withdrawn from social life.

"People who have family members or friends who come calling don't let their homes go to seed like this," points out Joto. "I think perhaps through the tendency for society to safeguard people's privacy, people no longer pitch in and help. It goes without saying that most people don't know their own neighbors any more. So the problem might also be caused by people spending too much of their time logged on to SNSs or in the virtual world, to the point that they disregard their real lives.

"The gomi yashiki has become a problem all around us. The longer people procrastinate in cleaning up, the worse it gets. Their environments become like filthy pigeon coops -- unfit for human habitation."

Among the subjects Spa! interviewed were people who hadn't cleaned their homes for 10 years or longer. And in some cases when the services come cleaning, among the things they find piled amidst the heaps of debris are paper towels, detergent and other cleaning implements, which were purchased but never put to use.

Unfortunately, writes Spa!, good intentions alone won't get a place clean.

Hisashi Sasaki, operator of an Osaka-based gomi yashiki cleanup service called "Mago no Te," tells Spa! readers about the hazards of clutter in a strong Kansai accent.

"The residents of these places can't open their curtains even on sunny days. If they have storm shutters, they always keep them closed too. This is the first thing we check. You can tell how bad it is even from outside. The area outside the front entrance will be filthy, and the rooms inside as well. By peering under the doors we can spot flattened paper trash on the floor. If there's an odor emanating, then the place may be a terminal case. There's a chance we might even tell the resident that there's nothing we can do for him."

And when things do seem hopeless?

"Then for the good of the resident and for other residents nearby, we'll consult with the owner and real estate agent. If they decide to bring in an outfit like ours, you can expect the cleanup to take several days at least."

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

30 Comments
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Don't be a hoarder.... you'll get slashed by your ex-cop neighbour !

2 ( +3 / -1 )

We had several gomi-yashiki in our neighborhood over the years. One did amazing thing with tires and bicycle parts and was almost at the level of modern art. The other was probably infested with vermin and looked like the setting for a Hollywood horror flick. In both cases I felt the owners were making a non-verbal statement, sort of giving the world the finger. But if I were in an apartment I wouldn't want to be living next to one.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Maybe if they'd make it easier to throw stuff in the garbage? I've got a few items I'd like to throw out, but every time they have one of those "everything must go" days, it's usually too far to carry all my junk to. It also doesn't help that if you've got to throw away big stuff, it costs an arm and a leg.

If there were big dumpsters everywhere, then it might be easier.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Gaijin info: Don't you have night time where you live?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Gaijin info: Don't you have night time where you live?

For sodai gomi ? That disappeared years ago in Osaka. My neighbors tried to put stuff (old futons) out in the street 3 a.m. maybe. But the busybodies went to bring that back and pile it just in front of their door ! They can know who since we have spying cameras all over now. That's not as if the place looked clean by any standard.

if you've got to throw away big stuff, it costs an arm and a leg.

Yep, I'd have to pay like 15 man if I put the stickers and pull myself the stuff outside at the time they tell me. At least, 30 man if I ask a company like those advertising in this article. It's insane. I got my washing machine for 5000 yen years ago (recycle shop) and they ask 2000 or 3000 yen to take it away. So all my broken stuff is piled in the trunk room. I will do like everybody else. When I move out, I'll take everything out in the street pretending to wait for the truck's second trip...but I'll disappear, and Osaka-city will clean. We work one month a year just for local taxes, that get us gomi slackers paid like base-ball stars. If they could also take the garbage away...

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Cos, if you ask Osaka city to take away your sodai gomi, the most expensive sticker is 1000 yen. That is for really big things, such as a sofa. They'll take away a lot of things for only 200 yen, like your kotatsu, electric fan, rice cooker, guitar, carpet, etc. No way is it going to cost 150,000 yen to empty your house of your "broken stuff." http://www.city.osaka.lg.jp/kankyo/page/0000008729.html

10 ( +10 / -0 )

No way is it going to cost 150,000 yen to empty your house of your "broken stuff." http://www.city.osaka.lg.jp/kankyo/page/0000008729.html

Cos's collection of Faberge eggs can't be collected by just anyone.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Sure, using the private firms is expensive, but the local council doesn't charge much at all for large gomi pick up.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

the most expensive sticker is 1000 yen

From the link you gave yourself a basic charge (and they add some fees when they do the mitsumori pricing) is 1,780 yen for a washing machine. Pick up your phone and tell them you have a machine to get picked, if you don't believe.

They'll take away a lot of things for only 200 yen

Not a lot, only ONE item. It's well it's well known that we hoarders own thousands of pieces of crap. Most friends that moved out were told over 10 man...and well, they have looked for alternatives.

the local council doesn't charge much at all for large gomi pick up.

If you really have a truckload, I think you can get a bargain with a recycle business. I'll try that. But clearing item by item is a real racket.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Cos (and I can't believe I'm saying this) you do get that it is like this in other countries right?

I find these houses disgusting. So many of them around Japan. One of the first thing I noticed when I moved here is how people let their houses go to junk. Not everyone of course but the number of houses I have seen that are falling down, have garbage all over the place and clearly are trash is beyond belief.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hoarding is a mental disorder. It happens in every country.

These people need some kind of professional support or they will continue to hoard no matter how many times their houses are cleaned.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Indeed, it does happen in other countries but in many western countries, there are residential rules that forbid it from getting to the state that many houses here get to. I always feel sorry for the neighbours. While I know Japan isn't a house "trade up" society, how much does this lower the property value for those unfortunate to live nearby? I certainly wouldn't buy land/a house near any of these folks.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Cos,

dont be a cheapskate! Pay for yr damned sodai gomi, its because of yr type that people dump their stuff in the streets, countryside etc!

For pete sake you buy stuff cheap(which is fine) BUT THAT HAS NO RELATION TO THE COST TO HAVE IT PICKED UP!

I feel for people who have illnesses but loath those who are too cheap to deal with their garbage!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

oh yeah, these people are a problem in society here and they are all around us. Haven't you notice them around you? Sticky odors coming from next door. They don't open up their windows to air out their rooms and their curtains are closed and stale cheap cigarette smoke mixed with bad other stuff permeates through the walls & under doors etc. all around. Really unhealthy stuff.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Never heard of "recycle" shops ? They sometimes even pay you to bring in your stuff ! Even if it's broken, they can use some of the parts. I know because we took a couple of old TVs (no longer working) VCRs (idem) sekiyu stoves, etc., and were even offered a cup of coffee each in exchange !

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Depends upon where one lives I guess. My wife and I did some serious house cleaning and decided to get rid of all the "stuff" that accumulated over the years, we got a truck, and a special permit from the City office and took the stuff to the recycling center ourselves. It cost us, by weight, around 1,500 yen, and we tossed out all sorts of stuff, old tatami mats, an old sofa, a matress, plate glass, a rusted bike, and other stuff.

Call your city office and see if you can do the same. For people who live in places like this I have to say it's an illness that needs medical care too.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

yr type that people dump their stuff in the streets, countryside etc!

I surely rank very low on the list of people you can call filthy around here. Precisely. I never dump in countryside and in the street. I'll let my stuff on a designated gomi pick up place, and that won't change the landscape at all. Now, it's in my trunk room, I'm the only one bothered as I can no longer use it as a cellar for wine, preserves, spare weights. I notice many people really empty their garbage bin in nature whenever they go for a walk, a drive or picnic (hanami, the day after, yuck...). The permanent gomi-darake cutting the cycle lanes, it's about 3 per km in Osaka-city. Not to mention those workshops and mini-factories that operate in town and pile up mountain of stuff (that won't move in years) on the sidewalk, even on the road sometimes.

Cos (and I can't believe I'm saying this) you do get that it is like this in other countries right?

Comparisons bring nothing. The problem is it has become a headache to clean up your pile of stuff here. I've helped a dozen of friends moving out, and oooch... Yes, they were able to pay and to spend hours on the phone dealing with bureaucracy. Many people simply don't have the money. There is a full street with 90% gomi-yashiki nearby, they are all elderly living on minimal nenkin, at best. I've lived in 2 other continents and, nothing like here and well I hope that's not like that in all Japan. I come from French towns where local taxes are 1/3 compared to Osaka . They never let anyone install half their house in the street nor let old cars rot during 5 yrs as it's a custom here. The garbage service is daily. even twice daily in streets with shops ( while in Osaka it's twice a week everywhere, shopping centers need to have their own private service) and you can simply bring your big stuff to recycling center opened 6 days a week (Osaka's is not opened ever, you must apply for pick up, take appointments and pay). They help people cleaning. For old crazies like my grand-dad or even chavs that seem helpless, they send 4 guys and they clean the rats out of his cellar, clear the falling trees in his garden, they clean their hoarded rooms... they don't charge, that's for the sake of the community, common interest that there are no witch houses with jungle around. Also, as the law requires it there, all flat buildings have a garbage storage room with lidded containers, well some hygienic system where residents can put stuff 24/24, and they print boards saying : "don't keep rotten stuff in your kitchen, take it to the container immediately", totally the contrary of my mansion's rule "you must keep all garbage inside your flat, take out only on the morning of gomi day". I am biased if I think it's common sense to make it easy to people to dispose of stuff and that we are walking on the head here ? Because, oh surprise, there are gokiburi all over... and I still don't know what kind of agent orange they spritzed to eradicate them, if next generation has 3 arms, they'll blame Fukushima. Even 10 yrs ago, that was easier to clean your place in Osaka, the sodai gomi day was efficient. Life in Japan is really benri, I don't complain globally... but for stuff like that, it's like a daily crusade. My first New Year here was a huge shock as everybody would take out 10-fold of trash as that's the only day in the year they clean , and they didn't pick up the increasingly fish smelling gomi mountains during over than a week.

Sticky odors coming from next door. They don't open up their windows to air out their rooms and their curtains are closed and stale cheap cigarette smoke mixed

What relation with hoarding ? There are thousands of single guys that do that in their one-room cave, and the place is just empty, they just have, telephone/TV/computer/game, futon, ashtray, 2 changes of clothes, the last 12 empty beer cans.

Hoarding is a mental disorder.

And you're a doctor giving online diagnostic.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Last time we moved we needed a huge truck. How richer would I be if I could still carry it all in a backpack?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GorqroigqM

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Comparisons bring nothing.

And then you go on to compare...

Sorry, but no. You can call someone, you can have someone pick it up, you can drop it off at a recycle center. I've moved countless times in this country and have never had an issue. You make it sound like you have a room of old crap sitting there because you're too cheap to pay the price to remove it. Indeed, it could be made easier but it isn't. If you don't want to pay the price to get rid of it, don't buy it in the first place.

What I wish this country would do would be have community green bins and a decent recycle program. Burnable and unburnable is just wrong - more so when they just burn it all together anyway.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So the problem might also be caused by people spending too much of their time logged on to SNSs or in the virtual world, to the point that they disregard their real lives.

May be? People have died of extensive videogame playing, it's already happening and it'll only get worse. Eventually humanity's social skills will drop to zero and we'll all breed in-vitro 'cos we won't even know of any other alternative that's comfortable.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsive_hoarding

Oops, according to wikipedia, I could become one of them. I can find 4 out of the 6 items on the first list in my house. Old magazines, things for crafts, clothes that I might wear some day and those freebies...!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Probably the "cleanest" countries in Europe - at least that I know of (alphabetical order) are Denmark, France and Switzerland. The other Scandinavian countries are also very clean, in fact, I read an article recently about Sweden having to "import" garbage because they burn it for... energy ! but don't have enough garbage left to burn ! Maybe Japan could try the same thing and get electricity from burning garbage ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Unfortunately there is no cure for hoarding just treatment which is life long although some people do succeed in overcoming it. Hoarding can be genetic or caused by a traumatic situation therefore therapy in combination with medication can help to get it in control and improve their quality of life as long as they continue to maintain it. A good support system with long encouragement is beneficial to keep it under control. However their is so much of it that is still unknown. I sympathize with any person affected by this type of challenging disorder.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"old cars rot during 5 yrs as it's a custom here..." There are mountains of rotting cars in some places of Japan, and in Alaska, too. People stop "seeing" their own gomi after they see it everyday for years...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I'm not a hoarder, but I think we all have just too much stuff, and finding space to store it all in a Japanese house or apartment is a challenge. Living a simpler life is the answer for most of us.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Gaijin info: Don't you have night time where you live?

yea, but I'm usually passed out by then..

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"old cars rot during 5 yrs as it's a custom here..."

Depends where you live. You can get money for junking old cars here and the process is rather simple too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

TS, I thought the Wikipedia lists had a huge difference between 1 and 2, where 1 describes leaving junk mail around, and 2 talks about not being able to sleep in beds in the home...

Here's the diagnostic Clutter Scale Photos-

http://www.science.smith.edu/departments/PSYCH/rfrost/Hoarding_Images.htm

0 ( +0 / -0 )

tmarie wrote: Indeed, it does happen in other countries but in many western countries, there are residential rules that forbid it from getting to the state that many houses here get to. I always feel sorry for the neighbours.

Perhaps you've been too long gone. I suggest you learn a little more about many other western countries, cuz it happens quite often, right out in the open. See if you can download "Buried Alive", which is a weekly show that goes through the lives of hoarders and tries to provide some help with the cleaning of their homes and their emotional lives. It is a really tragic thing. I almost cry watching it, and then promptly round up a bag of garbage to toss out.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Same thing all over the World. I live in Mexico city an traveled to several countries

including Japan an USA. Same, same thing. I thik that behavior is inherent to all Mankind

.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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