Abandoned bicycles dumped in Tokyo pond

By Casey Baseel

One of the odder problems you run into living in Japan is how to throw large things away. Say you’ve just bought a new bicycle, for example. In many countries you could find a charity to donate it to, or perhaps a relative or friend of a friend who’s just starting college or a career.

Japan’s predominantly middle-class society and general dislike of used durable goods means you’re unlikely to find someone willing to take your old bike off your hands, though. Trash collectors won’t haul off something that big unless you shell out an additional fee, either. In some cases, people will simply abandon their bike somewhere, such as a back alley or deserted parking lot.

Or, apparently, in a lake in one of Tokyo’s most beloved parks.

Located in the fashionable Tokyo suburb of Kichijoji, Inokashira Park has been an oasis in Japan’s biggest city for close to 100 years. A shrine, small zoo, and even restaurants can be found inside the park, which is also one of the capital’s prime cherry blossom viewing spots. The main attraction, though, is Inokashira Pond, which visitors flock to despite the persistent rumor that any couple going for a ride in one of the rental row or paddle boats is doomed to break up.

However, Kichijojij is also a popular entertainment district, which in Japan means lots of drinking. Inokashira Park sees no small number of inebriated youths and students, who, while not necessarily dangerous, don’t always display the best judgment.

Starting on Jan 18, the Parks Department began draining Inokashira Pond as part of an effort to remove harmful non-native fish, such as bluegill, that have been introduced to the body of water. After three days of drainage, the waterline had receded enough that the technicians in charge of the project began to notice something unexpected: dozens of discarded bicycles protruding from the lowered lake.

In just a single day, more than 50 twisted, rusted, abandoned bicycles were pulled from the pond, with some saying that a scooter and even a mid-sized motorcycle were recovered as well. Administrators estimated that the lake could still be concealing around 150 more bicycles.

Officials said they never imagined to find such a concentration of illegal dumping, adding that five bicycles were found in each of the three most used spots. The development seems to have caught the Parks Department off guard, with one spokesperson lamenting that the project’s budget was not drawn up with such extensive garbage disposal costs in mind.

Source: Imoto ha Vipper

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That is disrespectful of nature, society and your personal upbringing. I use to get bikes then fix them up into new condition and become Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and even the Tooth Fairy once and not charge one bit for all I wanted to see was the smile on a child's face.

Many years later I had a woman, whom I did not know, come up to me and hug and kiss me then said thank you for my bicycle years back, now that can make an old man cry which it did.

15 ( +18 / -3 )

This is news? Must be a slow-news day!

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

At least they haven't found any bodies... yet.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

This kind of discovery and the idea of deep connection of Japanese people to nature is a bit of dissonance--just one more paradox that makes up the character of Japan. Look what is perpetrated on the slopes of sacred Mt. Fuji. And yes, Fukuppy, that is news.

It makes you wonder as you wash your bottles and faithfully recycle your paper. What is the point?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Bear27.. I hear you but unfortunently in Japan if it's not a bike you bought and registered you may spend some time at a police box labeled a thief until the matter is cleared. I gave a bicycle to my neighbor and about a year later the police came knocking on my door at midnight, yes midnight, to confirm his story was true. BTW, it was a patrol car and three bicycle police.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

deep connection of Japanese people to nature

As long as it can be concreted over, like the stream running east from Inogashira's pond.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The main problem is that Japan requires that people pay for the disposal of large items. You have to look up how much the cost is to dispose of a certain item, then find out when items of that type will be picked up, or call to set up a pickup day. For many people it is simply too much trouble, and they dump bikes, appliances, or furniture in parks or alleyways. The cost of cleaning up the mess then becomes higher.

In parts of America, cities have fought the problem of illegal dumping by simply having a "bulk garbage" pickup day every other month. You can toss out any large items, and there is no cost for the disposal. This has gone a long way to reducing pollution in parks and forests, ponds, etc.

4 ( +8 / -3 )

Same in Holland when they clean the canals in Amsterdam, lot's of bicycles and now and then a car pulled out.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

In the old town, there's residential sanitation where residents can just bring over their large trash to the dump at no charge.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

In my area, the garbage truck picks up bicycles for free. Sick and tired of people dumping them in the parking space of our apartment, so I printed out some labels, stuck them on the saddles, and had the truck pick them up (all seven), one every fortnight. My partner said I'd get into trouble if someone saw me, but I said scr*w it, these bicycles have been gathering dust for three years, with flat tyres and rusting frames, and are taking up space. I couldn't get rid of the last one as the idiot owner had chained it to the metal fence. Now, people use it to hang their umbrellas on.

Since bicycles are registered, the owners should be contacted and fined if they don't deal with it themselves.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

---The main problem is that Japan requires that people pay for the disposal of large items. .....-----

Wish that more people would remember that just because things are done in a certain way in Tokyo or wherever, it doesn't necessarily mean that is how it is done in "Japan". (It certainly isn't only Japanese people who fail to recognize the diversity that exists!) I live in a fairly large city and we have free pickup of large items once a month.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Reminds me of the scene from 千と千尋の神隠し where she pulls out a bicycle and scums from the river god. It was a very accurate depiction of rivers that turned into a dumping ground.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Problem is, Japan and especially Tokyo and other big cities, are not "bicycle friendly" anyway... With the recent article on "trains" being so handy, maybe they should be used more often ? Denmark is far smaller than Japan but they have special "bicycle roads" everywhere and some very "fancy" bicycles ! Some with a two-wheel "carriage" (for a baby/child) behind !

5 ( +6 / -1 )

It's certainly sad and disappointing that people have such little disregard for the environment. However, I think that the government is certainly causing the problem more than it's helping. The "big trash" removal fee is a ridiculous idea and makes life that much more difficult for everyone. I image that it hurts the economy ("Should we buy a new sofa? Well, I'd like to, but not only do we have to buy a new one, but then we'd have to pay to get rid of the old one..."), it hurts the environment (in situations like this one), and generally encourages people to ignore the laws when handy ponds and parks are available. Yes, disposing of trash in a metropolis with so many people is difficult and costly for the sanitation departments, but certainly the current system is not the answer.

0 ( +3 / -2 )

A lot of the dumped bicycles appear to be those that were 'borrowed' from outside the local railway station by people coming back from a night on the town. When they get home, they dump them in a nearby park, etc.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

This is news?

Yes, bad news and sad news. People trashing public places should be important news for anyone that cares about living in a kinder society.

4 ( +4 / -1 )

In some cases, people will simply abandon their bike somewhere, such as a back alley or deserted parking lot.

Hellokitty123, I agree.

When I was a high school student, my bicycle was stolen. It was later found by the police in a "deserted parking lot". I was lucky. Many of the "abandoned" bikes are actually stolen.

It is rumored that the waste collectors abandon bikes in the pond after receiving disposition fees from the former owners.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Wait until somebody thinks about dropping a tank full of pig leavings :).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Sounds like an archeological dig. Would be interesting to see what turns up.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Hmm. I have a bike I've been meaning to get rid of...

2 ( +2 / -1 )

What ia the problem of paying 500 yes to dispose an item you bought and use YOURSELF. People shall be responsible for what they buy.

5 ( +4 / -0 )

Good story Bear27840.

Gotta teach that to the young generation.

Kids have way too much fancy toys nowadays.

3 ( +3 / -0 )


0 ( +0 / -0 )

Say you’ve just bought a new bicycle, for example. In many countries you could find a charity to donate it to,

Why would you donate the new bicycle you just bought?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

zichiJan. 27, 2014 - 03:48PM JST

There should be a recycling cost included in the initial price of the bicycle which should go to those NPO's recycling them.

Well, but the NPOs and the waste collectors are the prime suspect of the dumping.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Trying to find non-native, (or maybe foreign), fish? What about non-native bicycles? Before worrying about non-native fish, which is a natural animal still, worry about man-made pollution instead. As long as it brings beauty, I have no problem with foreign fish. So, stop the discrimination against them.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

zichiJan. 27, 2014 - 03:48PM JST

There are more than 200 million bicycles in the country, more than one for every single person.

Where did you get that number? Japanese government study shows the number of bicycles was 67 million as of 2008, which is about 55% of the population.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

something obviously needs to change.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What a waste of bicycles! Japan should be sending them to poorer countries, like Cambodia, Nepal etc...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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