Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Holy Moly, Batman...It must be gomi day!!

Yes, my friends, after the long holiday during which the gomi (trash) was NOT picked up...the city of Nagasaki is looking quite...not so pretty.

This morning, the 'gomi station' near the community center where I had class, was literally piled high. "What a great thing to post about," thought I...and I proceeded to take a few pictures making the three little ladies walking past me smile...I'm pretty sure that one laughed.

I could just imagine the conversation they were having:

A: "Was that incredibly beautiful foreign woman taking pictures of the trash?"
B: "I think so....I wonder why she was doing that."

C: "Well...I read somewhere that foreigners actually like trash and they sometimes dig in it to find things."

B: "Do you think she's going to dig in our trash?"

A: "Maybe we should go back and keep an eye on her."

C: "No, we can't...we'll be late to the grocery store and all the eggs will be gone."

Here in Japan, we take our gomi quite seriously. Well...think about it...the country of Japan has a population of about 128 million living in a space that is slightly smaller than California!! California, by the way, has a population of approx. 37 million...and....just to make this more interesting...the population of the United States is about 301 million!!

Yes...gomi is an issue that we are dealing with...we have to.

When my mom came to visit a few years ago, she made the comment that you needed a lot of patience to figure out our gomi system. In my hometown, all the trash goes into one bag...and the trash man comes to pick it up. If you want to, you can don't have to, but you do have that option.

Here? We have no options.

In our part of town, we have 4 different gomi bags....other places have 5!! for burnable trash..nama gomi (raw trash)...paper (but not newspapers for they have their own day and pick up!!), food scraps, etc.

Yellow...plastic bags and containers and styrofoam. Here is where you put the labels and lids to PET bottles...yes, we take them off!! for glass bottles, cans and PET bottles with the labels taken off and disposed of in the correct bag. for all other non-burnable stuff...things that don't fit any other category. If you have broken glass or pottery, for example, you put it here. One day, I found a toaster oven wrapped up in a blue bag...if you are a "dumpster diver", these are the bags you want to look in!!

When I first came to Japan, we didn't do this...or if we did, I was naive and unknowingly playing the "Gaijin card" (foreigner card). Ask any foreigner who has lived here for any amount of time about gomi and I would almost lay money that they have a story...we all do.

For example, my friend of mine lived in an area where the "gomi police" was a little old lady who would watch to make sure that you didn't put the trash out before you were supposed to. We all have specific days (ours here is: Monday--burnable, Thursday--burnable and all other trash) and my friend was leaving very early on gomi day for a short holiday. To save time in the morning, she put her trash out the night before. But...when she went to leave her apartment the next morning....she found her trash bag...sitting in front of her door. One important rule of that neighborhood: Never put your trash out the night before.

Many times I have driven by gomi stations and have seen groups of people going through the trash bags to make sure that no one put something where it is not supposed to go. A few weeks ago, on a Thursday, I came home to find one bag of trash sitting all by its lonesome where the gomi station is. Curious....I walked over to see what the deal was and found that it was OUR bag (the Corona bottles were a dead giveaway!!). Looking more closely into the bag, I could see that someone had not taken the labels or the lids off the bottles of coffee that he drank. was the walk of shame as I carried the bag back up our stairs. Thank God we live close and I didn't have to walk far!!

(Another look at the gomi pile this morning!!)

Tomorrow is our gomi day...and because someone didn't wake up in time and get the gomi out on the last day before the holiday, we have our own small mountain of bags that need to be taken out to the gomi station. It's going to take a few trips.

Okay...okay....It was me! I woke up late! Sheesh! It's not like I didn't take off a freaking label or anything like that!!!

I gotta get to's going to be a long day early day, actually, as tomorrow is the first day back to school!! Poor Issei is NOT thrilled....he's more upset that I found out that he out and out lied to me about how much homework he actually had during the winter holiday. The boy is in trouble BIG TIME!!! I foresee the Nintendo DS being gone for a very. long. time. Oh yeah...Momma was NOT a happy camper.


Ms. Lea 李女士 said...

Wow! Your gomi sounds like a second job!! I learn so much from your Blog! BTW, Love the new header on your Blog! Year of the OX!

Nancy said...

LOL, who would have thought trash would be such a pile of confusion!

I love the new blog look =)

Moxy Jane said...

This was a great read! I especially loved the imagined conversation between the ladies passing by;-)

We used to have to sort out all of recycling trash but Austin finally issued huge blue bins that we can now dump all plastics #1-7,paper, glass, and aluminum trash! Hurrah! I hope this encourages more people to recycle and lessen our landfill impact.

(I, too, LURVE the new blog look!)

JO said... I sit surrounded by mess....with 5 garbage bags ready to be taken out. And I think - thank freaking Gomi that I don't have to participate in THAT song and dance. Our trash would NEVER go out!

Thanks for the laugh!

phd in yogurtry said...

In gomi awe, here. Our city just changed from keeping glass and paper separate .. we can now dump ALL recyclables into one giant bin. It's nice to have one thing in life get easier.

ladycheetah said...

Ahhh, the joys of gomi sorting. I do not miss that! When I first moved back to the US, for awhile I was still rinsing out plastic containers before throwing them out!

Ginaagain said...

Wow, you make our trash look easy... We have a huge bin for paper and plastics, a tiny bin for glass, a medium bin for garbage, an optional huge bin for yard waste, and *coming soon* a small bin for compostable food scraps and then they will downsize our garbage bin. We don't have to recycle but we get charged an extra $5 for every bag of garbage that doesn't fit in the can (garbage only.. there's no limit on recycles) and the can is pretty small. I'm jealous of your frequent pick up but seeing the mounds of garbage I now understand why.

For some reason my guests tend to leave trash sitting on the counter for me to sort...

Mr Farty said...

Yup, we do that in Scotchland too - newspapers; cardboard; glass and tins together; plastics bottles sans tops, with all labels removed and all rinsed out. Plus we take old computer parts, carpets and paraphernalia to the recycling centre. How we still manage to fill the "other" rubbish bin every week is beyond me. Not trying hard enough?

Mrs. G. said...

Holy Hell. I thought Seattle was bad. You can be fined if you mess up the system here.

I like your new header.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Between the gomi situation and no dryer, I'd be agitating for a few years stateside!

3rdEyeMuse said...

you make lessons sooooo entertaining and interesting. :) thanks.

smalltownmom said...

Cultural differences are so interesting! We have it easy here, garbage wise.

Janet said...

SO many people on base complained about having to do their trash this way...I was like...hey, it's how it's done here, just do it and quite complaining! Sheesh! And actually, it's a fantastic idea :-)