The Mystery of Rubbish in Japan….

A bank of Japanese recycling bins of different colours

The above photo is attributed to

Tokyo is the cleanest big city I have ever been to. By far. This may seem obvious, but it is also a conundrum, as it is also the hardest place in the world to find a rubbish bin!!! I have spent hours walking around with my empty Starbucks coffee cup in hand looking for somewhere to (ethically) deposit it. My first time in Japan I was totally bewildered. My kids and I would find ourselves in the middle of Shinjuku, asking ourselves…WHY???? Why is it so difficult to find a bin.

When you do find a bin, it is usually a bank of them, with several different recycling choices. Rubbish disposal, like everything else in Japan, is very efficient. Train stations are usually the best place to find them. I have never found one in a Daimaru or a Takashimaya? Unless there is a cafe within the building.

It took me going back a second time to Japan to realise that there are no random bins around the place, as it is considered pretty rude to walk and eat, and eating on trains (unless it is Shinkansen) is forbidden. When you order take away, even from Starbucks, everything is packaged, in a box or holder then in to a carry bag. This struck me as overkill when I first saw it, but then the expectation is, if you are having takeaway, you are taking it SOMEWHERE to enjoy it. That somewhere is not loitering in the streets or on the train platform.

So, my suggestion is, eat in or don’t reject the carry bag, as you will need it to carry your rubbish around in!!

5 thoughts on “The Mystery of Rubbish in Japan….

  1. It can also be a challenge finding somewhere to enjoy your food! I was once with a group of friends all wanting different foods from one of those food-hall-under-the-shopping-centre type places, and once we left the department store, we were looking for somewhere to sit and eat for at least 10 minutes in the burning Kyoto summer. We ended up sitting under a bridge.

  2. Ahhh I needed this post! So true that bins are so hard to find in Japan. Also I had wondered why I was getting so many strange looks for eating okonomiyaki out of a box while sitting around Osaka… Couldn’t understand why everyone seemed to be staring at me even concerned as they came past. And then I spent 45 minutes trying to find a bin for the rubbish πŸ˜› Luckily there was a street food stall with a bin!

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