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Kyoto merchants want city to install more trash cans to fight litter in historic neighborhood

58 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

From its picturesque riverside area and iconic bamboo forest to art galleries and garden restaurants, there’s a lot to see in Kyoto’s Arashiyama neighborhood. One thing you won’t see very much of there, though, is public trash cans.

That’s not an entirely unique situation. Travelers to Japan often remark on how few and far between trash cans are, even in heavily touristed areas. However, the Arashiyama Hoshokai, a local promotion and preservation organization whose members include local merchants, says it wants more trash cans installed to help combat a rise in littering.

Trash cans used to be more plentiful in Arashiyama, but that didn’t always translate into clean streets. In the video below, some of the neighborhood’s previous city-installed streetside garbage receptacles can be seen. The cans are overflowing, with domes of trash sticking up above the rim formed by people continuing to pile up garbage even after the cans are at capacity. Because the piles aren’t very steady, they’d eventually topple or get blown over by the wind, causing trash to spill onto the sidewalk and into the street.

Because of this, says Kazuma Tadano from the Kyoto municipal government’s Town Beautification Promotion Division, Arashiyama locals requested that many trash cans be removed from the area, with the intended hoped-for effect of communicating to tourists that they were expected to take any trash they might generate back to their hotel or home.

However, with Arashiyama on its way back to the 8 million visitors it received annually prior to the pandemic, the issue of how to handle trash is once again demanding attention. Even if most visitors are conscientious about hanging on to their trash until they can find a place to properly dispose of it, with so many visitors coming to the neighborhood, even a small percentage of them littering/precariously piling trash means a lot of garbage on the ground. It’s getting to be an especially big problem now that the summer travel season is here. At the point in the video cued below, the same bank of trash cans in Arashiyama’s bamboo groove is shown at 9 a.m. on the left, and at 3 p.m. the same day on the right, with the containers completely full and trash on the ground in front of them in the afternoon.

With scenes like this becoming increasingly common, Junji Makino, head of Arashiyama Hoshokai, says “In the end, we really do need public trash cans,” and “To start with, we’d like [the city government] to reinstall trash cans in the places where we previously had them.”

Makino acknowledges that the presence of trash cans can lead to more trash on the streets, as people try to stack or cram items on/in to a can that’s already full. He makes special mention of half-eaten snacks from streetside vendors, and in the video you can see visitors eating ice cream, pickles, and other refreshing treats. Still, the current small number of trash cans simply isn’t enough, and increasing their number will help lessen the amount of trash on the street, Makino and Arashiyama Hoshokai feel.

Screen-Shot-2023-07-11-at-10.34.48.png
Image: Pakutaso

“Lessen” is an important distinction to make here, though, as even with more trash cans, it’s probably not going to be unusual to find many that are already full. Part of what makes Arashiyama so appealing to visitors is that it’s one of the less developed parts of Kyoto, but preserving that charming old-school atmosphere likely means that the city would be reluctant to have large fleets of noisy garbage trucks driving around the neighborhood’s narrow streets to make multiple trash pickups every day, to say nothing of the additional budget burden. So keping Arashiyama clean is probably going to take extra efforts on both sides: more trash cans from the city government, and tourists also being prepared and committed to take what trash they can back with them.

If you want to help do your part as a visitor, there are two simple things you can do. Should you happen to buy food or a drink from a street vendor, if you enjoy it nearby (as opposed to walking far away while eating/drinking it), you can usually ask the vendor to throw the plate/bowl/skewer/cup/etc. way for you with the phrase “Kore wo sutete moraemasu ka?” (“Can you throw this away for me?”). The other thing to do is in the morning, before leaving your hotel and coming to Arashiyama, make sure you’ve got a plastic bag or two inside your backpack/shoulder bag/purse. That way if you do have trash but can’t find a sufficiently empty trash can, you can stick it in the bad and take it back with you, and help leave Arashiyama looking as beautiful when you leave as it did when you arrived.

Source: YouTube/FNNプライムオンライン

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© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

58 Comments
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Here's an idea, let the merchant associations put the trash cans out, and pay for the upkeep and maintenance, and more importantly the removal of the garbage, on a daily basis, if not more frequently.

It's their businesses that create the garbage, it's them that should be responsible for cleaning it up!

23 ( +29 / -6 )

In other cities, trash and toilet can just part of city's facilities but in Japan they want to give those burden to combini. So what the government really doing?

8 ( +23 / -15 )

This whole country needs rubbish bins. It’s ridiculous!

17 ( +30 / -13 )

I’m not keen on Kyoto and become less keen all the time, the City Hall are idiots making it an unfriendly place.

Glad I reside in Osaka, never moan about rubbish here, don’t have to even split the rubbish, Chuck it all in together and put in communal bin whenever you want. Just like the 80’s fantastic, proper retro innit.

-10 ( +12 / -22 )

Let’s invite millions of guests to our country but not provide basic services because of some incident 20 years ago

20 ( +29 / -9 )

It's ridiculous to expect people to walk around with trash in their hands. Shops and cities should provide trashcans, you like the visitors keep coming and spend their dough? Provide basic sanitary services. Having said that, stations and major shopping streets should have them too

11 ( +22 / -11 )

I see many signs here in Japan that reads: Take your trash home. Heh, heh...

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

I always take my trash home. Except for the art museums after about 50 Kyoto visits we won't be making any more.

12 ( +19 / -7 )

I always think that the “take your trash home with you” comes from a time long ago when cities were smaller, and there were no fast food outlets or convenience stores. It’s very easy to see that Japanese would continue to recite this throughout the generations, as reciting old sayings is what they like to do.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Japanese create more single use plastic garbage than any other country. Little wonder the beaches, towns and cities like Kyoto are strewn with litter, no bins.

-9 ( +13 / -22 )

If I visit a restaurant in Japan am I expected to clean my plates after use?

No

So,why should over wrapped shop bought items in Japan be any different?

Stop the litter by reducing it at source

Also, there are other ways to help the revenue producing tourists reduce their litter

Much litter here is from plastic water bottles so why don’t local authorities provide water fountains in heavily touristed areas?

-5 ( +13 / -18 )

It has always been a question to me as to why there are almost no publish trash cans in Japan despite being an ultra-clean country (speaking for someone coming from a developing country). I know that it is expected for people to carry their trash with them and dispose of them at home. But this will not be applicable for everybody. I agree with @Yubaru, those businesses should chip in and fund the trash maintenance themselves since those come from their businesses. That trash has to go somewhere and you can't expect all tourists to have the same manners as the locals, there will be outliers.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Travelers to Japan often remark on how few and far between trash cans are, even in heavily touristed areas. 

Thanks to Asahara Shoko.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Japan is clean but thanks to local governments getting rid of many public smoking areas, now people just smoke on the streets and toss them on the streets. Streets everywhere in Japan are littered with cigarette butts. How about killing two birds with one stone and do what Singapore does? Have trash cans on every street corner and have ashtrays on top of said trash cans? Also increase the price of cigarettes to 1,600 a pack. That might encourage a lot of people to kick the habit.

-6 ( +8 / -14 )

Gaijinjland

Japan is clean but thanks to local governments getting rid of many public smoking areas, now people just smoke on the streets and toss them on the streets. Streets everywhere in Japan are littered with cigarette butts. How about killing two birds with one stone and do what Singapore does? Have trash cans on every street corner and have ashtrays on top of said trash cans? Also increase the price of cigarettes to 1,600 a pack. That might encourage a lot of people to kick the habit.

Where I live there are no cigarette butts on the streets. So not every street. They end up in the river, then the sea, and in the fish.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

So they are happy to sell you 500 yen mochi on a stick or supersized 650 yen bubble tea but won't help you dispose of the inevitable trash.

Most famiresu, McDs, KFC etc have a piece of paper on the toilet wall signed at regular intervals by the staff member cleaning them. If they can do that, I'm sure Kyoto could stop a few garbage cans overflowing if it wanted to. Perhaps the mochi on a stick etc people could do it on a rota.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

This Kyoto people just like complaining...

First there were too many tourists.

Then during Covidz they complained about the lack of tourists.

Recently they complained about the bus being too crowded and wanting to have more expensive bus fare for non-residents.

Now this...

Next article will be about tourists snoring too loudly so they want to build hotels outside of the city...

-3 ( +11 / -14 )

Japanese love to claim suffering and be victims. Kyoto people can now claim they are victims of tourism; victims of the attractiveness of their own city. This re-affirms their belief in the specialness of their home and also reinforces victimhood and gets it acknowledged by others, which is vitally important: "Poor Kyoto people."

-8 ( +12 / -20 )

When out-and-about, (on vacation or not) I generate no trash. I might buy a pet bottle of something on the street. Which is disposed properly of at the next opportune. That's it. Any wasted generated is nearly always done on site. Or in case of picnics, with my partner, is taken home.

Overflowing garbage cans are a health risk and an eyesore

7 ( +15 / -8 )

As noted above by other posters, garbage can availability was night and day from before and after the Aum attacks. I remember never even thinking about the lack of garbage cans before 1995.

The reason those trash cans in the video were so overflowing is that there aren't enough. Get it? It's like having only one restroom in an area - everyone is going to use it and the line will be backed up a mile. Just put A LOT more trash cans out. People will use them and they're their to keep your city beautiful, Kyoto.

Many train stations in Osaka have also reduced or gotten rid of their garbage cans so you can't throw away your garbage there anymore either after hitting up those tourists spots, especially if you're traveling and don't have a home to take it home to.

I'm so glad my hometown back in the States with miles of beaches have dozens and dozens of garbage cans which keeps most garbage off the ground. The local govt. there seems to have common sense. They don't mind paying for it since the massive number of tourists bring in a hell of a lot of extra money. Listening Kyoto? In fact, all of Japan should go back to pre-'95 levels. Aum type incidents aren't regulary happening so it's not necessary to take away a basic sanitary service.

0 ( +10 / -10 )

Overflowing garbage cans are a health risk and an eyesore

its easy just put out more bins and empty them more frequently, its very easy to

do which many other countries have no problem with

1 ( +7 / -6 )

First start by requiring vending/coke machines to include garbage bins alongside the recycling bins. Second, compel convenience stores to put the recycle/rubbish bins back outside for easy access to the public.

The fact is most of the plastic waste originates from these places, with convenience stores being the worst. It is about time they are accountable for the amount of waste they contribute to the environment.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I would donate to this. I live in a very beautiful place, but city folk just throw their rubbish in my trees. Not so many combini, so throw it in the bush. I’m getting sick of cleaning their mess.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

The city has many levers it can pull. Like a 10 yen return on cans, glass and plastic bottles. Banning plastic bags at point of sale. local business garage removal tax.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Kyoto has a growing problem with rude, uneducated, primitive tourists from all over the world.

Among other new rules to protect public areas and temples from mass tourism , alcohol drinking should become illegal and a fine should be paid for braking public littering and drinking.

Near temples, shrines and all world-heritage areas, “keep quiet “….or SSHHHH signs must be put up in English, Chinese, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

When I was a kid in the 80s, there were garbage cans everywhere, at least in my neighborhood Shinjuku. What happened to all of them? There are a few remaining, but just a few.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

kurisupisu

If I visit a restaurant in Japan am I expected to clean my plates after use?

> No

You are charged for services provided. In some restaurants, you are required to clear your table.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Nope, then they'll be complaining they're there, and have to pay people to go empty them.

That's not going to happen.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Isn't providing trash bins a government service that Japanese taxes pay for?

Please start in Tokyo with bins throughout the heavily touristed Asakusa area.

Then, everywhere else. Aum is far gone history, so this excuse should no longer be allowed.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Trash cans are not the responsibility of the central government. Write to your own local government about the issue.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

It's also very nice not seeing overflowing trash bins everywhere.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

From what some of you wrote, Japan is inundated by obnoxious tourists. As a soon-to-return tourist, I find that comment obnoxious. But then, I studied the culture and had good Japanese friends before my first visit which was just in time to witness first-hand the March 2011 tsunami. I don't recall any of the Japanese people I helped after that disaster, or a few serious earthquakes in 2015 referring to my assistance as obnoxious.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

TrevorPeace

just ignore the obnoxious comments by foreigners. Enjoy your trip after a long silence.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Why does Japan always have to overthink and complicate something that should be so simple? No other country I know of has such issues with trash cans because they have council employees who regularly empty them. And in heavily frequented tourist areas there are just MORE of them. Japanese local governments: comprende?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

leo T

TrevorPeace

> Maybe you are 1 of the 10% that know how to behave, if that's you.

> Thank you

Do you follow the tens of millions of foreign tourists? 80% of Kyoto tourists are domestic.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

So crazy! what other developed country doesn’t have any trash cans for people to use?

They can spend money of highways to nowhere but putting a few bins around and servicing them is like some kind of sacrilege…don’t get it!

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

Hmmm maybe the could hire people to pick up the trash or better yet since AI and robotics are evolving at a fast pace they could get a smart robot to keep the area clean.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

leo T

I am talking about foreign tourists, local tourist behave.

how do you know that? Do you follow people around? Which city are you talking about?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

leo TToday 08:45 pm JST

I am talking about foreign tourists, local tourist behave.

LOL...are you talking about the same local people who leave my street covered in cigarette buts and conbini trash daily??

Trash is a real problem...but tourists (and locals) will act responsibly if they have a place to dispose of it, rather than steak dinners tax money should be spent on bins and regular collection.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Yet, the whole country is clean. Perhaps, What Japan needs is foreigners to respect and obey Japanese rules and manners.  Is that to much to ask?

Well, that's not true. There are smokers everywhere in Japan and they rarely fail to litter. The canals around my neighborhood are full of plastic bottles and garbage. But anyway, Japan needs tourists more than tourists need Japan at this point. And Kyoto, which was a bankrupt city last time I checked, even more so. But Kyoto is not very friendly compared to other destinations.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

The J authorities unwillingness to deal with the garbage problem is an open invitation and opportunity for civic minded foreigners to step into the breach by emulating those jet-setting locals who can always be relied on, especially when the world’s attention is upon them, to organize foreign stadium clean ups. At least they wouldn’t be depriving anybody of work, unlike the aforementioned.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I know, just “Don’t GO There”.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Trash cans no matter how artistically designed, can in time become dirty eye-sores. And when there is a long strike of garbage men, Kyoto the beautiful ancient city will begin to stink.

The best solution is to give free attracive personal trash bags to visitors so they can carry out their personal trash when they leave.

Isn't that a great idea to suggest?

So Kyoto get going!

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

And when the strike of garbage men continues, beautiful historic Kyoto will become a stinky city. And when the strike of garbage men continues longer, the beautiful ancient city of Kyoto will become the stinkiest city in Japan. And when there is no end of the strike in sight, the beaitiful historic ancient city of Kyoto will become the stinkiest city in the world!

And who knows tourists may continue to come ? But bringing along gas masks in their luggage? Because Kyoto is such a beautiful, ancient city!

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Stephen ChinToday 02:46 am JST

Trash cans no matter how artistically designed, can in time become dirty eye-sores. And when there is a long strike of garbage men, Kyoto the beautiful ancient city will begin to stink.

I don't think the land of exposed power lines has much to worry about with trash cans. You'd be surprised how nice they can look when they are emptied regularly!

The best solution is to give free attracive personal trash bags to visitors so they can carry out their personal trash when they leave.

And I'm not sure what kind of message that sends to tourists that "we have no garbage cans here" because "we don't know".

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Honest to Pete, Japan needs bins EVERYWHERE. It's absolute madness to want or have to throw something away only to not find a bin in sight. They also need to do away with their absurd and ridiculously convoluted trash collection system and allow residents to throw trash away daily. Ever wonder why some buildings and areas have a pest and infestation problem? Because they keep bags of trash festering in their flat until whatever specified day they can throw it out. Absolute bonkers.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

wallaceJuly 13  02:41 pm JST

kurisupisu

If I visit a restaurant in Japan am I expected to clean my plates after use? No*

You are charged for services provided. In some restaurants, you are required to clear your table.

Really? What restaurant requires you to clear your table and what's the penalty for not doing so?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Stephen ChinToday  03:09 am JST

And when the strike of garbage men continues, beautiful historic Kyoto will become a stinky city. And when the strike of garbage men continues longer, the beautiful ancient city of Kyoto will become the stinkiest city in Japan. And when there is no end of the strike in sight, the beaitiful historic ancient city of Kyoto will become the stinkiest city in the world!

And who knows tourists may continue to come ? But bringing along gas masks in their luggage? Because Kyoto is such a beautiful, ancient city!

Garbage collectors in Rome have gone on strike numerous times over the years, to the effect that uncollected rubbish has attracted wild boars and yet "in 2022, there were 5,821,362 international tourist arrivals in Rome, an incredible 500% increase from 2021."

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am lucky to be living in a very old English village which dates back to 1082. There is a country manor house which goes back to the 1630's and an old church which was built towards the end of the 12th century. For the most part it is a nice place, but has been recently had a new influx of people, a lot of who are young (which surprises me) they, however, are not as respectful of the village as the older residents. We have a large green space in front of our house but sadly it is always got loads of rubbish on it. We all know who put it there but nothing is done, well there is one thing I would do, and that is to return it to them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There used to be trash baskets everywhere, but they stopped it because of the dangers of "terrorism." I think they were worried that someone might lace them with Sarin!? Garbage collection is an essential for any kind of life.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Because of sarin gas attacks in 1995 from Aum Shinrikyo cult,

trash bins were removed in densely populated areas.

Guilty members of that Japanese terrorist cult have since been tried, convicted, and executed,

but still, bins have not been fully returned.

People pay a hefty amount in city taxes.

Return the bins, and upkeep.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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