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Why are there so few benches and garbage bins in public places in Japanese cities?

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I believe it has to do with the concept of wabisabi and appreciating beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete."

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Don't know about benches, but remember there were many more garbage bins prior to the Aum attacks.

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Yeh I,ve been here for so long in Japan and I still can,t work it out Almost every park,beach ,river,temple,shrine virtually has no garbage bins perhaps it,s an understanding of some sort between the people of Japan and Japan.. I asked my wife who is Japanese and she couldn,t give me an answer...

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If it wasn't uncomfortable, inconvenient, nonsensical, and/or intensely annoying, people would stay too long...

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Yes, I think the garbage bins were removed after the 1995 Aum gas attacks. Also, there may be a line of thought that people are supposed to dispose of their garbage at home.

As for benches, I think their absence is a step to preventing homeless people from occupying them for hours on end.

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Isn't it obvious? If there were bins somebody would have to empty them after all the inconsiderate souls fill them with their household rubbish. And, benches: There are a few at Funabashi station, which support a small population of homeless people, who leave their garbage laying around everywhere and stink up the place by pissing where ever they like. Therefor, the answer this question is: It's a cultural thing, or lack of it!

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Benches

Everyone is too busy to sit down and take a break.

Garbage bins

With a conbini on every corner, who needs a public garbage bin? Just throw your garbage away at the conbini when no-one is looking. That's what everyone else does.

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My ward has few garbage bins out, even in the park when you enter there is a big banner telling you to take your garbage home. Used to be differrent a few years back.

There are plenty of benches in the park but they got "arm-rests" so you can sit but not lie down.

Besides having to empty the public rubbish bins, you will also need people that will sort the garbage for actual disposal/recycling, etc. Granted might be an opportunity to reduce unemployment rate but most likely those jobs will go to the "Silver Force"(ie Pensioners).

Another reason why my ward got rid of rubbish bins in the Park was vandalism(some guys thought it was funny to start fires inside them) and some criminal elements also used them.

But the sarin attack seems to be a major reason.

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In my city most public rubbish bins were gradually removed from more than 10 years ago.

A uni professor friend who consults for the city and prefecture on environmental matters told me they were sick of people dumping rubbish around the bins. I can recall overflowing cesspools in the central park. attracting crows, pigeons, stray cats & dogs.

They are rare now but near my house is a cemetery which provides rubbish recepticles for old graveside flowers, offerings etc. And without fail it regularly gets topped up with heaps of "other" rubbish. They can't close it down because it's a service to the cemetery visitors.

I'm still amazed at how much illegal rubbish dumping/throwing out on the streets,parks etc happens here.

And park benches. Actually in my city over the last decade, benches and resting places have become more common. Same friend said it's part of the user friendly streetscape plans now being implemented. Could do with more but it's happening.

So I guess every place makes decisions on local needs and reqirements.

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Disillusioned nailed it. I am often in Osaka, Kobe, Tokyo.... I would say Osaka wins the litter award but nothing compared to the amount of rubbish in some parts of Asia. As for Japan, these new generations just chuck their coffee cans, butts and ramen cups where pleased so it might be time to have the bins everywhere now (pigs will fly) Benches?... I rarely see people on them unless they are sleeping or passed out drunk. Japan is still far by the cleanest in Asia... even Singapore has a problem with giant public bins with ashtrays on top and butts drooling over the sides. That said Japan is the recycle bin champs of the world. Good on them.

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Well, if they decided to hire rubbish collectors instead of wasting money on so many ways (tooo many to count) we wouldnt have over filled bins etc. For example, in CAnada the bins never get over flowed!!

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I'm still amazed at how much illegal rubbish dumping/throwing out on the streets,parks etc happens here.

You forgot to mention the beaches. Head up to Ibaraki for an inspiring encounter with some old farmer burning his old lounge suite and plastic chairs on the beach. Many times we have approached them and we always get the same answer, "I'm a farmer! I can do what I like!" The beaches are disgustingly littered with all kinds of trash, both domestic and industrial. Never walk barefoot on a Japanese beach! Oh, and there are NO bins either.

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The park next to where I live has garbage strewn across it everyday. It seems as though someone is paid (not sure if he is paid or is just a thoughtful guy)to walk around with a pair of those tongs and pick it up. Hmm. I think it would be easier and cost less to have a couple of garbage cans. I often see kids playing with the garbage. Kind of sad. Dont really understand the logic of no garbage cans. It is like they are encouraging people to litter. Were any of the sarin gas packages actually in garbage cans? Didnt think so. As for benches, I am starting to see more of them.

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For example, in CAnada the bins never get over flowed!!

Canada doesn't have anywhere near the population density of Japan. It doesn't make for a valid comparison. Until the selfish minority can see fit to follow the rules of society (i.e., separate their home trash and put it out on the specified day), there will be no increase in public trash bins. Fuchu City in Tokyo recently eliminated their communal trash bins as there was so much wrong trash and trash brought in by people in neighboring communities who wanted to put out the trash any way they wanted. The current trend is for fewer bins. Encourage your neighbors to follow the rules and maybe someday we will have public trash bins again.

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Start throwing trash down on the ground everywhere and watch the garbage cans return.

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Not sure how many people here are taking advantage of the different campaings their wards offer.

Must be 5yrs back now that we took advantage and a bought a composter(outdoor one for Balcony) and claimed about 50% of the purchase price back from the ward. Reduced our "Nama gomi" to next to nothing, as it did a reduction of 90% most shredders only achieve one down to 30%. We could even sell the compost back to the ward on certain dates.

My ward already reduced "non-burnable" rubbish pickups from 4 to 2 a months and they have an ongoing campaign to reduce "burnable rubbish"(which includes plastics, etc for us).

This all of course ties in with reduced rubbish bins and fewer combini now put bins out as they end up paying for garbage removal that is NOT theirs.

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AUM shinrikyo was a convenient excuse to remove garbage bins and the expense of emptying them. There are few benches because they don't want to give homeless people even that comfort, those that there are have bars on them to make it impossible to sleep.

However there is no shortage of money to put iron bars all over the paths to obstruct people's movement, or numerous signs telling people what not to do. Entering any public park means negotiating an obstacle course, walking any path means avoiding pointless barriers every 10 yards.

I am convinced the general pessimism and lack of energy in Japan at the moment is a result of, or at least compounded by, this subliminal negativity and obstruction to free movement.

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When I used to ask my students why there are no garbage cans, they would say, "9/11." But I know there were no garbage cans before that. I think they just wanted to blame America. I'm pretty sure the real excuse was the sarin gas attack. At least the majority of convenience stores have them, although the one nearest to my house usually has the hole covered up and a sign saying we can't throw anything in there.

As for benches ... I have no idea. But I do know that any time I see a place that has a lot of benches or places to sit, it is COMPLETELY FULL. Those old ladies with the little walker+seat things have the right idea.

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for too many Japanese their country is their garbage can so they just toss, I get particularly pissed when I see 20-30 of the same cans at an intersection where some jerk tosses to every time they pass.

The cities have learned that the J-pop just dont have enough manners to derserve public bins & the same cities have trouble figuring out if they have them that they have to be emptied or they fill up & over flow..........lot of daft folks around we see the results everyday unfortunately

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Again, litter the streets with enough trash and the garbage cans will magically return.

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The Canada example isn't applicable because Canada has relatively simple and comprehensive garbage disposal system. Japans is complex, and often too bothersome for the average Tanaka. Hence the throw it out wherever you can attitude. I'm appalled by how much garbage I see on the side of the road!

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blue monday. interesting point about money being available for all those aluminum barriers. but as i said, my city seems to be getting better for benches.

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Japan needs people to be working or commenting on JT not sitting round on park benches. Agree that rubbish bins went out after the AUM sarin gas attacks

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and the amount of garbage produced by convenience stores, they darn well better have garbage and recycling bins out front. most everything i see on the roadside is from a conbini!

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I will just continue to litter until the city "gets it" and starts taking care of its trash problem - and this means joining the civilized world (which Japan credits itself for being a part of) and installing a reasonable amount of trash bins around town like every other modern metropolis, and prosecuting those who illegally dump trash where it doesn't belong.

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I think the message is kind of obvious: take your litter home with you and don't daudle in public areas. Anyway, it's just part of japan's idiosyncratic waste and space management. Why worry?

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I will also continue to litter the streets like there is no tomorrow until the city finally wakes up and installs trash cans. City officials can learn the hard way.

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The message they will take home is not to put out more trash cans, but that foreigners are inconsiderate jerks who can't obey the local customs ;)

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The message they will take home is not to put out more trash cans, but that foreigners are inconsiderate jerks who can't obey the local customs ;)

Yeah, they just love to blame foreigners for everything don't they. Even when they can't determine who is to blame.

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Just like in England and the USA, there are afraid of bombs being planted in the garbage cans.

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Yeah, they just love to blame foreigners for everything don't they. Even when they can't determine who is to blame.

The idiot who illegally dumps his trash on the street because he can't be inconvenienced to properly dispose of it is to blame. Pure and simple. For someone who calls himself a lawyer (bengoshi), you have a poor sense of what is legal and not.

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Lawyer or not, I couldn't care less whether such behavior is illegal. I'll pollute the place into a rat's nest until the city eventually wakes up and returns the trash bins.

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Which of course they won't no matter how much you personally litter. ;)

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smartacus us right, they were removed after the Aum sarin attacks, as a response to their home-grown terrorists... they also welded many drains and manhole covers shut.

But most Japanese seem oblivious to proper garbage disposal, other than their own compulsory 'gomi' collection at their home; as evidenced by the trash on beaches, parks, tourist spots, by the sides of the road, in fact anywhere they go...

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I don't know about other parts of Japan, but where I live we have to buy "special" government garbage bags to put our trash in. They won't collect it if it is in a normal garbage bag.

If there were public garbage bins in the park I'm pretty sure all the cheap folk would take their garbage to the park so they wouldn't have to pay for the special bags. You'd be surprised how far some people will go to save a few yen.

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Same where I live need to buy green rubbish bags, Yellow bags are for businesses and cost more.

Granted some rubbish can be thrown away in any old bags. And agee with papasmurfinjapan about folks trying to save a few bucks.

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during the APEC (asia-pacific economic cooperation) 2010 Summit, the trash cans will be removed from all JR, subway & private railway stations. so start planning ahead!!!

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We have garbage container inspectors in most public locations. That could mean someone could take advantage of that. But they cannot be blamed for trying. I like the more benches and container idea.

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the majority of beenches at the park are totally occupied by the homeless.

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It is a shame that there arent more of both but littering is hardly the solution. Write to city officials explaining where good locations for both would be. You probably will get a better response than acting like an irresponsible litterbug. Also, by being a foreigner in Japan you are easy to spot and if you litter it reflects not only on your lack of character but also on all foreigners in Japan.

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Garbage was traditionally handled by the untouchable "burakumin" caste group. Today's municipal workers refuse to stoop to such duties they see as below them.

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All joking and foolish talk aside, littering is certainly not the answer. As there should be more garbage bins in Tokyo, I agree that we should write to city officials. If enough of us make an effort to send letters requesting garbage bins, maybe they will eventually listen.

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Of what I know from a relative who lived here in the 1960's, there were many more benches in the bug cities, but after the student protests of said period, the government removed them as a way of discouraging young people from gathering. Don't know if this is the whole truth, but that's the way he saw it.

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oops, "big" cities, not bug

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Again, litter the streets with enough trash and the garbage cans will magically return.

sigh...

So, there is no garbage bins and some people just throw their own garbage away on the street? I teach my kids to bring their garbage home if they cannot find a garbage can in the park or wherever they go.

Garbage bins were everywhere (parks, stations, streets, etc) before 1995 (sarin gas attack) and after 9/11 (2001), garbage bins were removed from bullet trains and etc as well for security reasons.

I usually have a plastic bag in my purse so that when I have garbage, I put it in the plastic bag and then bring it home to throw away. It is not a problem once you get used to it (and I am used to it).

JeffLee-

Garbage was traditionally handled by the untouchable "burakumin" caste group. Today's municipal workers refuse to stoop to such duties they see as below them.

um, that isn't the reason why there are not many garbage bins on the street.

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Or we could take another approach> since there are few garbage bins, and no place to throw away that empty styrofoam cup from Starbucks, don't buy it in the first place. Any small litter can be brought home and disposed of there.

Some people here say they will continue to litter until the city "gets it". How about adjusting your own consumption patterns? Or maybe you're from the United "I have a right to litter whereever I please!" Kingdom?

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There is a lack of benches in places where they are needed, and there benches that are in places where they are not. They could build more with the bumps on them to keep homeless away. The core of the problem is that in most cases there is poor city planning and money wasted. Even if they do build more benches, someone always wants a kickback.

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Compared ton where? Go to London and there are no garbage bins (a legacy of the IRA bombing campaign).

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Anyone who was here in the 80s would know that littering was much more of a problem back then compared to now. Cigarette butts, gum, cans, bits of paper ... it's actually gotten a lot better. Just take your own garbage home and dispose of it in an orderly way. Is that so hard for "civilized" people to do?

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The lack of rubbish bins is great, because everyone have to handle their own litter and take it home, also in countries which have public bins often get smelly allies, flies and all sorts of bloody things dumped everywhere. Regarding the benches, I believe the lack of them is to promote consumption at cafes such as Tully's, Starbucks ,etc... it's hard to find a place outdoors to eat your home made sandwich-obento or to have a chat with a friend while enjoying the weather.

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Kazuhide Otani would probaby say, "We Japanese are not so razy as to sit around on benches when we go to the park, we walk around and get exercise.

And we prefer to have our parks free of unsightly garbage bins that terrorist could put bombs in.

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bicultural-

I agree.. littering used to be more of a problem back then.. streets are cleaner nowadays because most people take their garbage home and it has become a habit for many people.

Yup, take your own garbage home, is actually a basic manner here, and it isn't hard to do.

When kids go on a field trip and etc, each of the kids bring a plastic bag with them to bring back their own garbage home..

When going out, just have a plastic bag with you!! I have no problem with no garbage bins on the street -- when in a restaurant, there are garbage bins, when in a store, there are garbage bins.. so.. no problem :)

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I wonder about this too. Benches I don't care about but garbage bins, please!! We need more of them! It's a hassle to carry home all of the unnecessary garbage that Japan gives us. Everything is overwrapped here.

Like all of the Japanese people around me, I just use the PET bottle dispensers as a garbage can for other waste when there is no garbage can. When it's between that and taking it home, which might not be for hours, that will always win. Please put out real garbage cans, Japan!

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If the people want more benches or garbage cans outside, they should demand it. If they dont it wont happen. Very simple.

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I often think that benches are a mark of civilisation, allowing you to sit down, reflect, relax or just watch the world go by. Occasionally you can meet someone and have a chance encounter learning something new.

Japan is a poorer country for not having any benches.

I'm glad the Japan Times and now the Japan Today have started featuring articles about this; even though it will have no effect.

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Also, there are a lot of totally useless underemployed men who always stand around telling you where it's safe to walk etc. in Japan. They're a blemish on normal society.

These men could be put to better use by collecting rubbish, or cleaning the beaches. I would rather pay my exorbitant taxes on this, than getting irritated like crazy cause some moron told me not to walk in a certain area.

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When we generate garbage, it is ours. We should take responsibility for it by taking it home and disposing of it in our own garbage cans. Why ask the city to pay for our trash? Is it so hard for someone to take home an empty can of coffee, or a used paper bag?

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They didn't all disappear after the sarin gas attacks--my city had plenty of trash cans out in parks and public places until 4 or 5 years ago, about the same time they raised the prices on city trash bags. Surprise, surprise, people preferred to throw their household garbage in the park bins rather than buy the more expensive trash bags, so they removed the bins. Now people dump their trash wherever they think they can get away with it--I've been walking along the harbor and seen people pull up and through bags of trash into the sea.

Lately the new thing is dumping TVs, since it's so expensive to get rid of an old TV these days. On my way to work I pass about a dozen old TVs that people have just left by the roadside in the last few months. It's ridiculous.

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Throw, not through

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TheBigRiceBowl, the problem for most people isn't that it's hard to take the item home, but that it's expensive to throw it away when you get it there. By not taking it home to begin with, they have passed on the responsibility of paying for its disposal.

I just wish that municipal authorities would realize the connection between ever stricter garbage policies and increased litter and illegal dumping. If you change a certain type of pickup from twice a month to once a month, it won't make people throw out less trash, since the amount of trash they are producing won't change, unless Japanese manufacturers start using less packaging for their products. All that will happen is that people will start getting more creative about how to get rid of that trash, which means dumping it somewhere.

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I've asked the same question myself after I've visited Tokyo recently. There are no bins around, so I got use to finish my drink at the vending machine and throw it there as most of them have those recycle bins next to it.

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Worst place has to be Kyoto.No bins anywhere.I have a few ideas. Japan seems good at creating meaningless jobs to keep the older people in work (library parking officers etc etc) and the street cleaners may be another example.In general the Japanese are good at carrying their trash and taking it home or dumping it at the konbini.In Kyoto I noticed that even the convenience stores didn't have garbage bins.No garbage anywhere but a real nuisance when you have a baby and a pram and have to carry around rubbish too. As for benches..space is a premium.If you wanna sit and relax you have to buy a coffee and invigorate the economy.

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People here do not care about broader populace so bins just get abused to throw away household rubbish. so taken away. Don't blame AUM - if they were to blame they would have closed down the Metro.

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Like everything in Japan, Most people don't care about anything outside of their house of their car, and that is reflected in the amount of tax payer money that goes towards keeping towns clean and convenient. As long as people can get to work on time, they don't complain. Rubbish bins and benches are just the tip of the ice berg. Low taxes = no rubbish bins and weeds on the footpath all year.

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The right-wingers think that bins and benches just bring about trash which calls them to pay money to have the stuff and (homeless) people removed. Solve the problem by removing all benches and bins in the country. Then the other problem is solved! So simple!!! So political too!

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Also, there are a lot of totally useless underemployed men who always stand around telling you where it's safe to walk etc. in Japan. They're a blemish on normal society.

Hey Richard III, can't wait until you are underemployed. Like you are above being....downsized? What is the ole Bible verse (there for the grace of God go I).

If you are not careful, you might be reincarnated either as a underemployed or unemployed guy or as a bench.

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We're usually not too far away from a convenience store and they actually are required to have garbage bins provided as a public service according to what I heard.

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to make it easier for the police. less loitering and there are less garbage bins ever since the Aum attack

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very generally oc

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The Japan tImes had a one page article on this...Essentially it boils down to traffic laws and the role police, cities and local wards have.

Police see the role of roads and paths as a place for traffic to move. Benches have the opposite effect. Additionally, safety guidelines means many places are too narrow to include benches.

The good news is that in Tokyo, more and more businesses are developing sitting areas as they found it attracted crowds who then buy stuff as they hang around all day....so as usual, business, not gov will lead the way in delivering what people want...

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um, that isn't the reason why there are not many garbage bins on the street.

Um, yes it is. Garbage bins require regular collection and disposal. Who's going to do it? Traditionally, it's been the job of the burakumin. Nowadays, it has to be done by regular municipal employees (not the garbage collectors), who are resistant to the idea for the cultural reasons. This being Japan, no one confronts the issue, so the result is to do nothing....hence no litter bins.

As for pre 1995, I don't remember many bins then. Beaches, parks were strewn with litter due to the absence, and I remember regularly having to carry garbage home. The Shinkansen and other other landmark sites were different, but 99% of the locations had no bins.

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I have wondered this very same thing myself...

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I definitely used to see more garbage cans before the sarin attacks. There also used to be more benches in the 80s before the homeless population started to increase dramatically.

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Tokyo sucks right now. Not a garbage can in sight. Darned conference. I walked around with a pocket full of litter yesterday and nowhere to empty my ashtray.

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I've never seen any benches or bins in 25 years here. The sarin thing started it and there's none of either since. Also to discourage homeless who both sleep on benches and root through garbage bins.

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from what i understand, the cities & towns can't afford the garbage pickup . or so they say .1 of their cutbacks.

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because the local lazy garbage men would have to empty them and collect the garbage the dirty homeless scavengers left behind.

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wow... old post

I found this site: http://www.thejapanrants.com/blog/tokyo-garbage-cans/ which listed a LOT of different ideas some of them were really good and it gave me a much clearer view

still annoying as hell though lol

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I have lived all over the world. And i think Japan THINKS they don't need trash bins "because" their people are "civilized" Of course, it s not the case As most Japanese have no sense for aestheticism or responsibility they just litter The country is poor, so they cannot afford trash bins and servicing them

Japan is just a very poor country

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