Saturday, 7 March 2009

Noise Pollution

A common complaint about Japan is the seemingly endless pre-recorded messages blaring at you from various locations. During the run up to elections politicians have cars driving about blaring messages and requests for votes, right-wing political groups drive black vans with darkened windows that blare rousing militaristic music, the truck that delivers fuel for space heaters plays the MOST ANNOYING jingle, and the one that has been annoying me the most recently is the constant appearance of trucks blaring their desire to take your unwanted electronics off your hands. The drivers go painstakingly slowly through the neighbourhood, stopping regularly to make sure that everybody hears the message and has the chance to grab the laptop/tv with remote control/VCR/.... and run out and joyfully relieve themselves of the burden.

I hear trucks of this sort at least once or twice a week, and it makes me wonder just how many old electronics they think people have sitting around in their homes? I realize the Japanese are famous for buying the newest gadget as soon as it comes out, and electronic items cannot be thrown out in the regular garbage here, but still, twice a week?!

There are two jingles I wouldn't mind hearing, but have not heard once in this neighbourhood - trucks selling yaki-imo (sweet potatoes - cooked whole over coals and a wonderful cold weather snack) or trucks selling hand-made gyoza (Chinese dumplings). I have caught a glimpse of a guy on a bicycle selling tofu and other goodies, but he doesn't make enough noise for me to hear him!

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