Oversize trash dumping in Tokyo

Friday, December 14, 2012
ゴミ捨て放題 東京

Throwing away large items of trash in Japan can be time-consuming and expensive. Getting rid of that old fridge, mattress, TV or bicycle involves having to ring up a sodai-gomi (oversized trash) collection company who will come with a small pick-up truck and relieve you of it for a fee of about 3,000 yen.

An illegal trash dump in Tokyo.

Making the call, arranging a time, having to be there at that time, and having to pay are too much for a lot of people, who therefore illegally make use of empty, hidden-away spaces in the neighborhood where the unwanted item can be surreptitiously dumped for free under cover of darkness.

Such a spot exists beside one of the bridges over a river in suburban Tokyo. There is a small mountain of trashed bicycles, with a few fridges, washing machines and dryers standing about, a spring mattress or two added to the mix, as well as miscellaneous household fittings and items of furniture.

I idly check the trove of trash out when I cross the bridge and have noted that things dumped there sometimes disappear. For example, I am sure that for the past couple of weeks there had been two mattresses, but when I went back to take the photos featured here, there was only one. Also, it is impossible that the electrical household appliances could have all landed on their bases (and they could only have been thrown down there as there is no ordinary vehicular access). This suggests (a) that there is some scavenging going on, and (b) that someone makes an effort to keep it from looking too, too messy.

One of Tokyo's illegal neighborhood trash dumps.

This no-man's lands in the Tokyo landscape can only be seen by craning over and looking down - not something the casual passer by would think of doing, so seems to be a case of out of sight out of mind.

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