Orientation at Yamasa started today.
We learned lots of things that don’t apply to me, because I’m on a short-term visa, and will be gone in 3 months. It’s kind of a bummer, but there you go. But there was a lot of really useful information, too, like what to do with my trash.
I’ve been hoarding trash for the last week or so, because frankly, I don’t know what to do with it.
Welcome to Japan! You Fail at Trash!
When I got first got into my apartment, I was checking all of the drawers, and in the file cabinet there was this thick brochure, and in it was this whole dissertation on how to sort trash about 800 different ways.
So I figured that’s what I had to do. I went to the nearest conbini, bought a bunch of trash bags, and went at it.
There are trash bags for all kinds of trash here. It’s mind-boggling. Each type of trash gets its own special bag. We only have the one sort of trash bag in the US, and we pick based on brand loyalty, size, application, and how much trash can it hold before exploding.
In Okazaki (I’ve been told it’s different in other places), ordinary people have to sort their trash into bags of burnable trash, paper, plastic, non-burnable trash, and PET (plastic) bottles.
But wait, you’re not done yet. That milk carton is made of paper, so you think it goes into the “paper” bag, right? Wrong! It gets cut open and flattened (after you wash it out and dry it, of course), then stacked and bundled with twine, and disposed of at the proper place. (Wherever that is.) Same goes for newspapers, glass bottles, cans, and a long list of other things you probably didn’t realize.
You think you can just hide it in the trash bag? HA! You fool! You have to write your address on all of your trash bags, and one of your neighbors (the Trash Shogun) will be checking your trash for “improper items,” and that person has the right to reject your trash.
Yes, in Japan your trash can fail to be proper trash.
And you can’t hope that they won’t see it, because the trash bags are clear. Fun, huh? Makes you think twice before throwing out a lot of stuff, doesn’t it?
So rather than try to actually throw out the trash, I panicked and just stuffed it under the sink in a lame attempt to sort it until I got orders on what to actually do with it.
After orientation, I learned something very important.
I don’t need all of those bags.
Luckily, our apartment complex just has two blue dumpsters, one marked “burnable trash,” and the other marked “nonburnable trash.” At orientation, I learned that I just have to keep two little trash bags, and I can just use any old bags I want.
I don’t even have to write my address on them.
Recycling Back Home
Still, I miss the way we do it Back Home. How do we do it there? Simple: most recyclables go in the blue box everyone gets. Put the blue box outside on your designated day, and a truck comes and picks it up. Usually. When they feel like it.
Vegetables and other kitchen waste can be ground up in the garbage disposal and handled as raw sewage, or you can compost it, or just toss it in the trash. Bulky stuff, like electronics and the like, needs to go to a recycling center run by the county. Hazardous stuff goes to a special center. Not a big deal.
I learned a lot of other useful stuff, too. There’s a grocery store just down the street from the school. Woot. My lunch problem is solved!
I also got a ZigZag coupon. Yay. I hope I can get some beer with it!
After orientation, I went with a group of fellow students to a local restaurant that sells okonmiyaki. It used to be the kaiten-zushi shop, I went to four years ago, I think.
It was pouring rain, so when we got there, we were soaked.
The United Nations of Japanese Language Education
Yamasa does a really good job of mixing up the student body. It’s not just a bunch of Chinese or Korean students with the odd American. There are folks from all over the world here, not just Asia.
The group that went to the restaurant was a good mix. There was a guy from Switzerland, and a woman from Israel. And of course a couple of Americans, and some folks from other places, too. I can’t remember them all, but it was a good mix of people.
Then I went home, dried off, watched some TV and went to bed. Gotta get up early for class.