Japanese soccer fans attracted plenty of praise at the World Cup last month when, having watched their team lose to Ivory Coast, they diligently cleaned up their trash from the stadium. Whether you think these supporters’ actions show how important it is to Japanese people to be considerate of others, or just good old-fashioned common sense that applies wherever you are in the world, everyone (well, almost everyone) agreed that taking your rubbish home with you is A Good Thing.
This week, however, Japanese Twitter users have breathed a collective disappointed sigh as photos of the trash left in the streets after the world-famous Sumida River Fireworks Festival show some people in Japan aren’t as super-considerate as we’d like to think. Is Tokyo an exception to the rules? Or is Japan’s reputation as a super-clean nation undeserved?
While many people in Japan bring rubbish bags to sort and take home their trash after attending fireworks or a hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) party, it seems that for some, when festival season comes round all rules are thrown out the window like a flailing pair of Homer Simpson’s pants. Attendees of the festival, which takes place on the last Saturday of July and is one of Japan’s oldest and most famous fireworks festivals, took to Twitter to vent their rage at the inconsiderate types who prefer the dump-and-run approach to waste disposal.
▼ “The bicycle parking place I always use is today doubling up as a trash sorting venue” writes one Twitter user, proving that Japanese people can use sarcasm after all.
▼ “In Asakusa now. We’re not at the World Cup any more…”
Some of the comments reveal more about the amount of garbage there usually isn’t in Japan. How wonderful to live in a country where this pushed-together pile of plastic bags and bottles elicits the caption: “Asakusa after the festival. The trash is seriously way too much.”
▼ “At Asakusa Shrine. There’s trash everywhere.”
To be fair, there is actually quite a lot of garbage in this next pic, although it’s worth noting that people have at least been considerate enough to throw it all in the same place.
▼ “Because of the fireworks festival this trash mountain has appeared (´･_･｀) “
Japanese net users were equally appalled:
“If this is how people behave, how can we have the Olympics here [in 2020]?”
“They should cancel the fireworks festival.”
“I can’t believe anyone would just throw trash outside like that.”
“What happened to the cleaning-up we did at the World Cup?”
“I honestly can’t understand how anyone would do this.”
“You should leave a place looking more beautiful than how you found it. Didn’t they learn that at school?”
Other commenters pointed out that taking trash home on a packed train is hardly an appealing prospect, and said that the organisers should be responsible for dealing with it. The festival’s website boasts no less than 23 do’s and don’ts for attendees, including this gloriously didactic message for anyone considering littering:
“Dispose of trash only in the designated areas. Tossing it outside or leaving it anywhere except in the correct place not only ruins the beauty of our environment, it shows you to be an irresponsible person with no moral sense.”
Also prohibited by the festival organisers are: climbing on the roof of someone’s house (to see the fireworks better) without their permission, getting into arguments with other visitors over trivial things, and, er, answering the call of nature anywhere except in an actual provided public toilet. Hopefully we won’t be seeing pictures of that kind of indiscretion on Twitter any time soon.