We can’t understand Japanese policy about rubbish. In a country of cleanliness, hygiene and separated collection of rubbish, there are hardly any rubbish bins to be found in public areas. You are expected to take your rubbish home with you. When we leave the town parks, playgrounds, the beautiful picnic places and even the camping sites, we take our rubbish with us from them all, sometimes for half a day. During a cycling holiday, when you have no home, ‘taking it with you’ can be a problem but luckily there is always the Convenience Store which does have a rubbish bin. But that is really the only way we can get rid of our rubbish.
Secretly leaving it behind is not our style, and even if it does appear to be a Japanese habit, we don’t conform. I even get a bit angry about it. This is another incidence of Japanese inconsistency: on the whole, the country is very clean, but we often see rubbish lying in the middle of nature, sometimes burnt.
We could, of course, take the rules literally and come home with kilos of rubbish. But I’m sure this would not be welcomed at Schiphol.
Well... in this way our cycle bags are soon full of rubbish
This ‘rubbish-behaviour’ can be explained. There is a great difference in Japan between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. In short: ‘outside’ is strange and doesn’t interest the Japanese very much, but ‘inside’ is intimate, cosy and safe and demands another method. Everyone is responsible for ‘inside’, no-one for ‘outside’. This applies not only to the place where you work, an organisation or club of which you are a member, but also literally for ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. The amount of rubbish we saw ‘out of doors’ was striking – in nature, on the roads, in public transport ... all this is ‘outside’ and is treated as such...
In spite of this, there are plenty of local government warnings of fines: (click on the photos to enlarge)