I am sure you will find disposing of your rubbish, or gomi, in Japan a more complicated affair than in your home country. It will initially seem complicated and confusing but it is worth getting it right! If you live in a big apartment block in a city there may not be specific rubbish collection days or neighbours checking your rubbish. However, if you are not blessed with anonymity and you don’t put the correct sort of rubbish in the correctly coloured bag you may find that the rubbish “police” will invite themselves around for tea… or you may simply find it dumped outside your apartment for you to deal with again!
Rubbish disposal varies so greatly from town to town that it’s impossible to come up with one document here that correctly will tell you what to do with yours. The best person for you to talk about this with will be your predecessor. After all, they’ve been here for at least a year! In case they cannot provide you with the info you need, speak to your supervisor. In theory, they are going to be from your area and can contact a land lord/town hall/ gomi department and find out the information for your area for you.
You will probably be given 2 different charts which are produced by your village/town/city office. One will tell you which days your designated area has collections on. These will be split into burnable, unburnable, and recycling days. The second chart will give you the definitions of what is and is not considered burnable etc. You may be very, very lucky and have these charts in English. But it’s more than likely they will be entirely in Japanese.
Again – speak to your supervisor. Make sure that they tell you which your collection area is, and show you where you need to take your rubbish. Ask them to translate for you! Gomi can be a big headache, especially if you’re used to chucking it all in one bag and forgetting about it. But if you establish early on the correct procedures for your area you can save yourself a lot of headaches and embarrassments in the future!
There are some simple things you can do to reduce the amount of rubbish you accumulate in Japan. Take your own bag to the supermarket and say “Fukuro wa irimasen” to stop unnecessary bags being used. Carry a pair of reusable chopsticks in your bag so that you never need to rely on waribashi. You can also affix the following note to your postbox to stop flyers you can’t read for products you don’t want being delivered: チラシを入れないで下さい
Many things can be recycled in Toyama. Supermarkets will often have bins at the entrance where you can throw away styrofoam, milk cartons and plastic food containers.
Glass bottles, steel and aluminum cans, and PET (plastic) bottles should be put out at home on the designated day. Batteries, ink and toner cartridges can be taken to Joshin or other big electronic shops. Batteries should always be disposed of separately.
Gomi can be a big headache, especially if you’re used to chucking it all in one bag and forgetting about it. But if you establish early on the correct procedures for your area you can save yourself a lot of headaches and embarrassments in the future! This trash separating guide (in English!) was made by Toyama city to help residents understand how to properly separate different types of garbage and how to prepare them for disposal.
Additionally, Haley Alt has created this lovely guide to help you figure out garbage issues!
For more information, please check the Toyama City Garbage Guide. Please note that this is only meant to be a reference. It may differ in your city.