So earlier I wrote some thoughts on how people abandon things here in Japan. It’s certainly not unique to this culture, but perhaps there are some unique aspects.
I posted two pictures of the same bicycle, one year apart. The first time I saw the bicycle, (the “before” picture), I struck by it’s state. And so I proceeded to snap a pic. Of course, when I saw it again, (the “after” picture), I was simply impressed that no one made the effort to remove it…in over a year!
Having spoken to some Japanese about this idea of just ignoring something like a mud-caked bicycle, it seemed there was a consensus that there was no point in paying any mind to something that may still belong to someone. I raised the idea that perhaps it was purposefully ditched by the owner, perhaps to avoid scrapyard fees, or it was left there after being stolen by someone else. Again, the same sentiment was expressed: it’s not ours, let it be.
I suppose one unique point about that feeling is the notion of easily writing things off so long as they are not yours. Prime example: the other day a lady knocked a shirt off of a rack at a store. She didn’t realize it, walking away. Others walked by, stepping over the shirt, while going about their business. Perhaps in the West, a passerby is more likely to pick the shirt up and hang it as a courtesy…or in the case of the bicycle, report it to the authorities, or simply haul the offending thing out, especially if they’re one of land owners there.
By no means is this any kind of verdict on Japanese behavior, but rather an exercise of observation into not only an interesting culture, but my own notions and biases.
This is the same bike, in the same irrigation dike, one year later. I suspect it will be waiting next year, albeit covered with more debris.
I took this shot last year. This bike has been sitting in an irrigation dike since 2009.
Before posting abandoned things, I have a simple litmus test: the item must remain at least three months, untouched. This one’s been six months.
noun: desertion, dereliction, renunciation
In Japan, abandonment seems like a convenient and easy way to dispose of something like a bicycle, or an appliance. There are special pick-up days for different kinds of garbage, but some require special arrangements, or occasionally a fee. It seems some people just don’t want to bother.
Everyday, I see those things tucked away behind a bush, or nonchalantly left somewhere out of sight. For bigger things, like a car, or even a home or building, owners may even just leave them just as they are. Abandoned places are called “haikyo”. Go here for a rather extensive look. I’ve yet to set foot in one myself, but other photo blogs have shown some rather interesting finds.
Back home, I might find abandoned places or things, but usually they are in run down sections of town. Then there is Japan: an orderly, fairly tidy place. Yet, it’s not uncommon to spy an abandoned building in a nice area, or a car that is perennially parked with flat tires and peeling paint next to luxury car.
I can only surmise that with high land premiums, and the rather stiff fees that can go with dealing with large, unwanted things, it’s simply cheaper to just walk away.
So, I’m going to do a little photo series of abandoned things, not random rubbish, but curiously deserted things.