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Topic: dumpster diving in Tokyo  (Read 2150 times)
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IndividualFrog
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« on: August 10, 2005 08:40:25 PM »

Hey all.

I'm moving to Japan really soon.  Totally scared, totally excited.

Here in America, I can usually find just about everything nonperishible I need for free, because it's being thrown away.  Left on the side of the road or in a cleanish dumpster or whatever.  I've gotten a four-track, two dress forms, and all the furniture I've ever owned from the trash, for example.  Most things people throw away because they are broken are easy to fix, and things they throw away for being ugly can be made to look nice without much effort.  I'm sure you crafty folk agree.

I am worried that my recycling ways might not be sustainable in another country/culture.  Do people leave their crap on the side of the road for scavengers like me to swoop down upon in Tokyo?  From what I've seen of the city, I could imagine that either there are, like, enormous piles of beautiful electronic junk lying around, or that everything disappears immediately upon disposal through some ultra-efficient garbage collecting system.  But what is the truth?
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« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2005 08:35:48 PM »

I was just outside Tokyo (in Sagamihara) 10 years ago this month. Then, you could find stuff on the side of the road and in dumpsters. The homes there are much smaller than in the u.s. And lots of people want the newest and best electronics. Put those two together and voila--good stuff for free-yeah! We knew another american who found a nice big screen tv (nothing wrong with it) next to the "gomi"--too fun to say, try it (it means trash). My husband found a vcr that wouldn't play tapes, but did translate some programs on tv into English. When we left we gave away two bikes to some Aussies we became friends with, so don't forget to make friends with the expats. Have a great time. I wish I were going too!
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dancingbarefoot
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2005 10:23:20 PM »

I am worried that my recycling ways might not be sustainable in another country/culture.  Do people leave their crap on the side of the road for scavengers like me to swoop down upon in Tokyo? 

Dear God, yes! Japan is a wonderful place for dumpster diving (although my friends and I used to call it "gomi shopping" (aka 'trash shopping').

There's not a huge history of secondhand shops in Japan, aside from clothing, so people just throw perfectly good things away when they get newer/bigger/better/whatever ones. The day or two before trash & recycling pickup, people start putting things out on the street in the neighborhood's designated trash area. You can find lots of awesome stuff! Furniture, electronics, books, you name it. Just be careful with bicycles, because the cops like to think that foreigners steal bikes, so if you have one without all the paperwork for it, they'll assume you stole it.
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IndividualFrog
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« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2005 10:53:46 AM »

Well, that is great to know.  Thank you!  Now I am feeling much better about surviving until I start saving some money.  I'm leaving on Wednesday, wish me luck!
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2005 01:16:00 PM »

Good luck!!
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While we have the gift of life, it seems to me that the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die - whether it is our spirit, our creativity, or our glorious uniqueness.           Gilda Radner
minouette
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2005 01:40:36 PM »

Good luck in Tokyo!  Smiley

I spent a month there a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. People were really nice to me. Air Canada (those #@$#@%) lost all my luggage and I never saw it again!  Angry So I needed help with simple things like shopping for clothes. My Japanese is very minimal, but I managed fine- though even Tokyo is not very cosmopolitan and I did get stared at a lot. There are markets and stores (see open market near Ueno park, can't remember precisely off the top of my head...) with almost reasonably affordable items- for that step above dumpster diving. I recommend a book I bought, called "Tokyo for Free". A few items were out-of-date and occasionally some information (like when venues are open) was inaccurate, but overall it was a great guide to enjoying the city on a tight budget. You might want to check out some of the welcoming programmes where a local family actually invites newcomers into their homes for dinner and to welcome them. As sacrdplce points out, the homes are small and so people do not often entertain at home so this is a rather unique opportunity.

You will note that often trash is locked up to protect it from the crows (and possibly the large number of semi-feral cats!).

Also, if like me, you love but can ill-afford the paper, you will be amazed how even the smallest purchase is wrapped in beautiful "disposable" paper (which of course is great for crafting).

Oh! One last tip for free stuff-- department store basements are rather like giant food courts where most items can be sampled for free. Yum.

Enjoy yourself!
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« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2005 07:26:18 PM »

i envy you all... it is one my life's ambitions to visit japan... and id love to live there for a year or so.

what i know of japanese culture, i adore. I'm also tech savy and would love to be where most of these things are dreamt up.

but i have heard the cost of living is very expensive, is that true.

when i get out of school i will be a nurse, is there a nursing shortage in japan... maybe i could do that there Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2005 10:22:15 AM »

Yes, it's expensive to live there, but there are choices you can make that will help you live cheaper. My husband and I lived without a car (as did most foreigners we knew). We used the extensive train system and our bicycles instead. We didn't buy a lot there. We brought all our year's clothes with us. We shipped via slow boat what we couldn't carry. I think I bought 2 shirts, a coat, and a jacket while there. (Note: Clothes for larger framed people are difficult to find.) There are discount clothes shopping districts. I can't remember the name of the area I went in Tokyo. I bet someone else here can help.

Here's an article about how Japan is largely closed to outside labor. Take special note of paragraph five.
http://www.ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=23592

Another way to get a job/visa is by becoming a Department of Defense teacher. (I think you'd have to get your teaching credential for that.) Once hired you'd be a civilian working for the DOD. I think the Japan commitment is 2 years. I think they'll help with housing too (as in give you money), a BIG plus. Here's a link to get you started. http://www.military.com/Resources/ResourcesContent/0,13964,31992,00.html

Hope this helps a bit. I wish you luck!






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While we have the gift of life, it seems to me that the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die - whether it is our spirit, our creativity, or our glorious uniqueness.           Gilda Radner
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