30 September 2005

Ahh, Tokyo!

I came here to see more of the world, to immerse myself in a completely new and different (to me) culture; to fly by the seat of my pants (so to speak); to see what opportunities arise from packing up all that is familiar and dear to me; to meet exotic and foreign men (or as it turns out, foreign correspondents); to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone; to enhance the self-reliance of which I am so proud.

Tonight I am at home sorting garbage. GARBAGE IS A VERY SERIOUS BUSINESS IN JAPAN! I guess it has to be in a country with a population of 128 million, about the size of Victoria, and with a penchant for packing everything in layers and layers of plastic, then paper bags, then another plastic carry-bag.

There are no wheelie-bins here. You simply put your GARBAGE into special plastic bags that you buy at convenience stores* and place them at The Designated Area on The Appointed Day at The Appointed Time. Kind men in wonderful costumes then come with a miniature truck to haul the GARBAGE away.

* Convenience stores rock and will be the subject of a future blog. Oh yes people, the adventures just never stop.

Wednesday & Saturday – Flammables
Monday – Non-flammables (Not to be confused with inflammables as this would cause the complete breakdown of society as we know it.)
Friday – Recyclables
Monday – Bottles and Cans

So now you’re thinking (apart from this girl has no life), what’s Monday’s caper when recyclables are collected on Fridays? I’m glad you asked although I DON’T KNOW EITHER. I should know as I have a 70 PAGE booklet telling me what is appropriate for each collection.

Even though it’s in Japanese, there are some wonderful cartoon drawings that have entertained me no end some evenings, as I still don’t have a television, DVD, computer, furniture, or the before-mentioned life. OK, basically all I have are a mattress, a frying pan and my new phone with GPS, so at least I can’t get lost in The Den as I navigate my way around the mountains of rubbish that have piled up as I keep missing The Appointed Day at The Appointed Time.

Walking through the front door this evening, cockroaches scattered as I clambered over Japan’s second highest mountain. The stench was overwhelming and rivalled the stink in the tram this morning. I vowed to do something about it. I sorted out the piles of paper that litter the room. Somehow, I have managed to hold onto a lot of paperwork, which is rather pointless as I can't read it. I rip plastic windows from envelopes for the non-flammable bag, and throw the shredded remains into the flammable bag as paper is not recycled here, it is burned. I also know that if my GARBAGE is not sorted correctly, it will be returned to me and I can’t take this risk as there’s no space left in The Den for more. It’s a tip already.

45 minutes later…
I am hot and flustered but damn it, the GARBAGE is under control. I burn Nag Champa and my all-time favourite, Precious Chandan (gifts from Sinny), to hide the lingering odour.

The collection won’t be for another couple of days, but now all the GARBAGE is safely packed away in the cupboard under the sink.

Note to self: don’t forget GARBAGE safely packed away in the cupboard under the sink.

ps I sincerely apologise for the EXCESSIVE use of capital letters. It seemed somehow appropriate.

pps Maybe overusing the upper-case is a sign of culture shock. What are the 12 steps for culture shock? Oh hang on, I’m confusing that with something else.

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