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Town fuming over Murakami portrayal of citizens as litterbugs

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For Chrissakes people, it's called fiction! Artistic license! And in any event, the fact that you admit to cleaning up the litter from roads only underscores that Murakami wasn't wrong!

18 ( +24 / -6 )

OK. I'll post now that a butt load of smokers flip cigarettes out the window here in Okinawa when done.

While your stopped at any signal that has a median, look and see what I'm talking about. If the median has any kind of greenery, you will also see drink cans.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

I'm willing to bet that despite the story being fiction, the part about throwing cigarettes out the window is factually correct, and hopefully these 'fuming' citizens will take it upon themselves to either stop doing it themselves or try to stop others doing it. I see people here throw cigarettes out the window quite often, and have nearly been hit by one on a couple of occasions while riding my bike.

0 ( +10 / -10 )

The town doth protest too much, methinks.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

Yeah and most of that in Okinawa is from Americans. Most key word most okinawans have those high speed ashtrays in their cars and a litter bag or container in their car

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Not just Nakatonbetsu but how would you feel if your town was vilified even if a novella?

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

One sentence is hardly "vilified".

10 ( +13 / -3 )

"In early spring, the town people gather of their own will in a clean-up operation to collect litter on roads"

Instead of tidying up once a year and relying on volunteers, why not have a system of public trash bins, as is commonly found in other developed countries if you're so sensitive to this issue.

Anyway, your comment indicates that your roads ARE blighted by litter. LOL.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

It's true! I was at a parking area near Nemuro, Eastern Hokkaido, and some guy threw the wrapper from his sandwich out his car window. I walked over to pick it up and return it to him, but he had already sped away...

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I hope that Murakami stands his ground and tells the city off. What, is a fictional character not even allowed the free speech of having a opinion, expressed tentatively in an offhand remark?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Throwing cigarette butts is the least of the problem. I've seen larger things being discarded. Yes, you do get a lot of litterbugs in Japan as in many other places - not so unique.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

My pet peeve has always been cigarette butts, often still lit, being thrown out of car windows. Not only is it unsightly but it is quite dangerous for people (like me) riding scooters (or bicycles) next to these morons. As others have said, my first reaction was also : since you do have "cleaning-up teams", you obviously need them (as do many other places in Japan).

6 ( +9 / -3 )

a fictional character thinks to himself, "probably x is caused by y".

Ew! Oh! What villany! The editors should be executed!

I imagine the town is happy for the shout-out and the council protested as a joke. (At least I'd hope so, because it would be too ridiculous if true.)

7 ( +8 / -1 )

For Chrissakes people, it's called fiction!

Exactly. Nothing to discuss.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

When she flips a lit cigarette out of the driver’s window, the actor thinks to himself: “Probably this is something everyone in Nakatonbetsu commonly does.”

All the passage shows is a stereotype from the character using "probably". Who cares? The town should be happy to get a little bit of exposure.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

This happens all over Japan. Smokers are pitiful addicts that care nothing where they dispose of their used drugs after it has been smoked. Just walk around any train station anywhere in this country and look at the streets. Beaches are littered by smokers everywhere in all of Japan.

Smoking needs to be heavily taxed and regulated as the poison it is.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

It is never a town where people litter with cigarettes everyday

Maybe not 'everyday', but someone is doing some litter there as the next quote clearly shows.

“In early spring, the town people gather of their own will in a clean-up operation to collect litter on roads,” Takai said.

So, that means there is litter to pick up, right?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Why does anyone even read this guys books? Not interesting at all! It's like anything japanese people flock to these days. Why?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

If they gather a huge effort and people to get together and clean cigarette butt and trash on the road.........

How did this litter magically appear? If the citizens did not do it, and were super-clean.... Lol.... Then no effort would be needed...

Get it together guys.... Hopefully the next book that comes out will talk about your town's improvement. :)

2 ( +4 / -2 )

"Nakatonbetsu, a real-life mountain town whose population has dwindled to 1,900 from a peak of 7,600 in 1950.But members of the eight-strong town assembly were not amused "

Pretty funny. At least it gave the 8 civic leaders something to do. Probably the biggest thing to happen in town since ......last year's spring clean up of litter on the roads - which presumable was thrown out of cars by those darned out-of-towners.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Whether this book is fictional or not, there is a huge problem with littering in japan. I can't count the amount of times I've seen some twit stop at the traffic lights and empty his ashtray out the window onto the road. Then, there are those who just throw the fired chicken rappers on the ground and anything else they don't want just gets tossed. And, let's not forget to mention the ever-present piles of discarded cigarette butts at entrances to stations. I could go on to include spitting. What's with that? There are great globs of goop spat out everywhere. When I first came to japan my ex-wife commented that Korea smells like kimchi and she asked me what I thought japan smelled like. My answer was, "Japan smells like garbage!" Possibly, that is part of the reason she is my ex-wife. :D

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I think people are missing the point of the annual town cleanup. We are talking about a village basically. I doubt they have the budget for street sweepers and the like that big cities have. Probably this clean up is a town tradition, much like the spring cleaning that most of us do in our own homes and yards. I fail to see why the fact that this town cleans up once a year is being used by some posters as evidence that they are dirty. It just doesn't make sense. Furthermore, surely not all litter created is a result of residents. Tourists (and there are a lot of tourists in Hokkaido) tend to litter. Maybe Murakami littered when he went there to research his novella.

Instead of tidying up once a year and relying on volunteers, why not have a system of public trash bins, as is commonly found in other developed countries if you're so sensitive to this issue.

Its irritating as hell that there are no public garbage cans most places in Japan. Those who were familiar with Japan pre- AUM Shinrykyo know that this was not always the case. Prior to 1995 and that terrible March day, there were plenty of waste bins around town, even in public parks. Immediately after that day the trash cans began to disappear from the streets.

I'm not sure if the level of paranoia is so high that municipal governments honestly think removing garbage cans will thwart the next guy who wants to commit mass murder, or if they cynically took advantage of the crimes perpetrated by AUM to slash their public trash collection costs, knowing they had a built in excuse ready for anyone who called up to complain.

Its outrageous the amount of taxes I pay in order to carry an empty soda can around for an hour until I chance upon a garbage can. Used to be able to find them right inside the doors of many big shops/department stores, but even those have mostly disappeared.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

See how deep the rightists are entrenched over here..... The good news is that there is already a German translation out "Die Pilgerjahre des farblosen Herrn Tazaki" Good luck Mr. Murakami also for the Sunday Tokyo elections.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

How long before Abe or some old git at NHK calls Murakami a "traitor" for damaging Japan's image, followed by bullets in the mail from the sound-truck brigade?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

It depicts fictionalised conversations between a widowed middle-aged actor and his 24-year-old chauffeuse who hails from Nakatonbetsu

Sounds like quite a good premise!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

See how deep the rightists are entrenched over here

bullets in the mail from the sound-truck brigade

Huh? Where is there anything like that mentioned in this article? Maybe you guys are on the wrong thread? Or are you such frothing liberals that when a village oyaji says “we want to know why the name of a real town had to be used like that,” you see it as a right wing attack? Sheesh, such paranoia.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@hidingout

It wasn't me who used the expression "right wing", but to answer your question, people who get all upset about what they perceive as slights to their town or their country or their flag do tend to be chauvinistic right-wingers, yes.

And, given some of the stories coming out of this country recently, I really wouldn't be all that surprised to see Murakami vilified by the right at some point over this. Not paranoia, just experience and an awareness of the current zeitgeist.....

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Elsewhere, Tokyo is fuming about its continued depiction as being a place that gets destroyed by a giant monster reptile, claims that image is hurting tourism. In international news today, the city of Verona, Italy insists that it does not drive teenage lovers to suicide, as local businesses cite this reputation as damaging their Valentine's Day merchandise sales.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@lucabrasi

Thanks for trying to pull these comments out of the garbage. This is all about the writer Murakami. Here is an interview with the guy from January at his residence. Its not in English but these days Google will do the job, I guess. http://www.zeit.de/2014/03/haruki-murakami/komplettansicht

Thanks to Japantoday and AFP for their reporting

0 ( +2 / -2 )

CrazyJoe: "Not just Nakatonbetsu but how would you feel if your town was vilified even if a novella?"

No one is 'vilifying' anyone. This is just one of those cases where people are offended by being shown the truth by someone else. They're just embarrassed that such an international voice didn't praise and promote their town but showed it as a town like any other, here or elsewhere, and in this town, as with many other towns in this nation, people toss stuff out the window (and hence you need a local community clean-up every now and again... or wait... are they not picking up litter?).

The people who usually get the most defensive are those who are or know that others around them are guilty, and they feel ashamed to the point where they cannot blame themselves but have to fob it off on those who point it out.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Wow. Open your eyes Namatonbetsu! If anything he is doing the town a favor by mentioning it at all. Its really the oversensitive national babysitter government that is hurting small towns. Im pretty sure that Murakamis mention will be a LOT more profitable than Yurukyara or any other government sponsored revitalization program in the area.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Throwing trash out of windows.. happens all over Japan.

A few years ago I was walking home to my condo with my wife and two kids when I saw a young guy illegally parked on the side walk and having his lunch that he bought from the convini He opened his car door and threw his trash on the side walk, right in front of us. Being my neighborhood, I was very pissed and promptly threw his trash back in his car He was irate and wanted to yell at me, but he had an American dog ( corn dog) stuffed in his face and couldn't talk. This all happened not more than 30 meters from the convini's trash barrel.

What is worse is ... in Osaka the taxi drivers who piss on the side of the street. These drivers know the streets like the back of their hand... but don't know where there are any public toilets!!!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

but to answer your question, people who get all upset about what they perceive as slights to their town or their country or their flag do tend to be chauvinistic right-wingers, yes.

That actually doesn't answer any question I asked. The man in the article asked a simple question "why use the name of a real town". You have no evidence whatsoever for your baseless claims that he (or anyone on the town council for that matter) is a "chauvinistic right-winger".

I really wouldn't be all that surprised to see Murakami vilified by the right at some point over this.

By smokers, or litterbugs maybe, but why would the "right" want to take him to task for this?

Thanks for trying to pull these comments out of the garbage.

Where you sent them by interjecting your thoughts on "rightists".

This is all about the writer Murakami.

Really? I thought it was about a small town in Hokkaido that he chose to slag off for some unknown reason.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I ride a motorcycle a lot, in and around Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures. People throwing cigarette butts out of their cars is all too common, and extra irritating if the still-burning butt flies into you. Whenever I can, I grab the thrown butt and return it to the thoughtless driver through his window. I have yet to see one (out of a dozen or more), who didn't have an ashtray in the car.

I'm a smoker, too, but I use the ashtray when driving my car, and refrain from smoking when riding the bike. I always dispose of my ashes and butts properly, and expect other smokers to do so, too. If anything, inconsiderate ash/butt disposal angers me more than it does my non-smoking friends.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

hidingout: ". The man in the article asked a simple question "why use the name of a real town"

Why not use the name of a real town? Who would believe any writing about a novel with the characters based in Tokyo if they did not use the name of real districts? I bet if he had said the town was made of rainbows and sunshine and that all the people were great they would be dancing with delight he used their name.

"Really? I thought it was about a small town in Hokkaido that he chose to slag off for some unknown reason."

And there you have tossed your argument out the window with this idea that he was intentionally 'slagging off' some town. How did he slag them off? Buy saying people toss cigarettes out the window? That's probably the only non-fictional part of the fictional novella.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Substitute the one town's name with "Japan" and it would also be accurate. Litterbugs EVERYWHERE if you'll be honest.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Summer job one year - working for a road contracting firm that had a highway maintenance contract. Worst part? walking alongside the road on the grass verge collecting trash when there was nothing else to do.. Even if you can see it as you zoom by, trust me it's there and in huge amounts. After Butts the Cigarette packets are probably the most common, then soda cans, snack packets, and especially just out of towns with a KFC/Mac - huge amounts of that trash - the whole bag or just the soda cup/ burger box. The absolute worst though and there were plenty - disposable diapers. Charming, absolutely charming. Hubcaps, used " prophylactics" a wallet - you'd be surprised at what you found on the side of the road.

It only takes 1 in a 100 to be a pig, and if a 10000 cars go past a day , it soon adds up

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Isn't there a longstanding piece of common-sense wisdom that states that just because an author puts something incorrect in the mouth of a fictional character, that doesn't necessarily believe that the author himself believes it?

Shouldn't the people of Nakatonbetsu keep this in mind?.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

So everyone agrees, %100 of the population in Nakatonbetsu smokes. Yea that's what I thought. I feel for the town, the implications made came out of nowhere, and bash any reputation the town has.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Alex: "So everyone agrees, %100 of the population in Nakatonbetsu smokes."

Who said that, Alex, besides you? If he had said the town was a bastion of kindness would that mean every single individual was kind and no one unkind? Get real. No one is bashing anyone save in the minds of the insecure who take a fictional story personally.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If no one in the town litters, then why do the good citizens need to meet every spring to clean up the litter?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Haha this is hilarious, should have just changed the towns name to Japan, there isn't a single town in the country that doesn't have a litter problem & that's because..............drum roll..............MANY Japanese treat there country like a giant garbage bin, THATS why!

Out where I am you commonly see tvs microwaves, nicely tied off combini bags (soon to be opened by crows) ALL OVER THE PLACE

Its a nation wide problem/bad habit!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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