Sunday, June 27, 2004

Sewers and trash

It's getting hotter and hotter every day, and this will continue now through July and August. I don't know how I'm going to manage. It will really be a test of my stamina and endurance.

The sewers are getting pretty stinky now with the heat. If the breeze comes from the "right" direction it can be pretty awful! It's only happened in certain areas as I've walked, and especially around sewer vaults. Remember, Tokyo is quite old, and the infrastructure is pretty rustic. For example, the sewer and water pipes are not completely underground. Well, they are in a way, but it's hard to explain. The sidewalks are lined on one side (toward the houses) with a long row of large, concrete tiles with "hand grips" on two sides. Those tiles cover the sewer/water system, and workers can get easy access to them if there are problems.

It's quite amazing how little garbage people put out for pickup. Nobody uses large trash cans like at home. They just use plastic trash bags (like kitchen trash bags or smaller) and it's usually full of empty beer cans.

Anyway, I'm amazed at how little trash people have, especially considering all the extra packaging everything seems to come in! The trash is picked up often, though. Where I live, it's picked up four times a week. I guess it has to be often if people don't have trash cans. Today when I walked to work someone had set out several white plastic bags that were filled with really nice-looking blankets and other linens! I so wanted to stop and rummage through them (I know, I'm sounding more like a bag lady everyday) but if you had seen them, you might have wanted them too! They were really beautiful! I couldn't imagine why anyone would throw such nice things away. I mean, at least give them to needy people! (Despite Japan's attempts to convince the world that there are no poor people in Japan, I actually saw a couple of young women sleeping on blankets in front of the supermarket near work. Now, either they were anxious to get in as soon as the store opened in the morning, or they were street people. There was something on the news a couple of days ago about a new law being passed to provide some housing for street people, so I know they're here.)

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