Several times a day a small truck will slowly wend its way through the neighborhood, stopping every few score meters , playing a looped announcement. It is the 'sodai-gomi shushu', or 'oversize garbage collection' truck.
Municipal authorities charge a fee for the removal of anything other than regular household trash. You have to ring up a local ward council office number, describe what you want collected, receive a number and get told a fee and a collection date, go to a convenience store and buy special garbage collection tickets to the total sum specified, write the number on the ticket(s), affix them to the garbage, and - perhaps most difficult of all - remember to put the item(s) out on the specified day.
The oversize garbage collection service lets you sidestep the officialese and forking out of money by taking junk for free. Washing machines, computers, motorbikes, furniture, air conditioners, stereos, radio cassette players - anything big, just run outside and tell the driver and he'll come in and take it away.
There are a few things that even the oversize junk collector will charge for, however. I tried to pass off an old printer on to him the other day but was told it would cost me 500 yen - more than the municipal collection would cost.
Listen to a sound clip of the oversize garbage ('sodai-gomi' in Japanese) truck as it does its rounds through a neighborhood in Tokyo's Nakano ward:
"Color TVs, radio cassette players, stereo amps, mini stereos, desk top computers, laptops - we will take them off you for free. Also, please let us know if you have any motorbikes, refrigerators, washing machines, or air conditioners."
Eating & Drinking in Tokyo
Japan Nakano Tokyo garbage trash junk
Sunday, April 30, 2006