Another plague of Japan: litter

I wish this was a rare sight

As much as I love living in Japan, there are certain things which bug me at times- an example of this would be the cultural expectation to drink. An example of this would be the expression お神酒上がらぬ神は無い- which means even the gods drink sake (and thus you should too).

However, one of the more insidious plagues is the abundance of litter in Japan- which is a rather un-Japanese thing considering that there is a nationwide recycling and garbage disposal program.

The disposal program, looking at Iga specifically, was started in 1996 and the articles in the local paper explained how to separate garbage and what will be done with the garbage. To be put simply, in Iga, garbage is separated into burnable, non-burnable, paper and cardboard items, plastic waste, and pet-bottles and cans.

This is something even I understand. Additionally, if you refuse to take part, you may be fined- along with the shame aspect. But somehow, even with the amount of resources Japan has invested into recycling and waste management, litter is still an issue.

During my journey “the long walk”, and photographed above, litter was unfortunately a common site even in the most remote of locations. The discover of this, encouraged me to look into this further and I have since discovered that litter is not just common in remote areas but in built up cities as well.

While walking through Iga, cigarette ends are common along with plastic bottles, cans and other recyclable materials. The same can be said about Nabari, Tsu, Nagoya, Osaka etc but with one difference: high traffic areas such as tourist areas are extremely clean and without litter.

It seems as if Japan likes to give the appearance of being clean in small villages and around people’s homes, but a bit further afield, such as in the middle of the country or in non-popular areas in cities, less emphasis is given on its’ importance and thus its’ much more common to see.

Is this something you have experienced while visiting or living in Japan?

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.

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