Let’s Keep Japan Clean!
As a military child, I have had countless opportunities to see and experience different cultures; the ancient temples, shrines, and gardens that decorate Japan are what I treasure the most. To me, the blooming cherry blossoms that adorn the almighty Mt. Fuji is what represents Japan. While such image can still be seen in the first few weeks of spring, I find that such beautiful scene is frequently destroyed by littered trash.
Although Japan is known to be a very clean country, I have noticed that many of its streets are frequently littered with bits and pieces of garbage; some of the most frequent garbage found are cigarette buds, pet bottles, and flyers. To add on to the trash that can be seen every day, the amount of garbage found in parks can increase during the cherry blossom season due to hanami, or cherry blossom viewing. While all locations celebrating have a strict no littering policy, many of the non-major parks celebrating hanami do not have garbage bins or a proper area to dispose waste. In the end, some visitors celebrating the cherry blossom viewing end up tossing or hiding their trash; such practice of littering can especially occur among visitors unfamiliar with park rules or under the influence of alcohol. I am positive that visitors, both natives and guests, do not wish to view rows of cherry blossom trees decorated with pet bottles and used chopsticks.
The issue of littering may not completely resolve in Japan, but there are actions one can take to help improve the country’s cleanliness. If one wishes to take part in hanami, it is highly recommended to bring a large bag to dispose garbage; even without a bag, it is also a form of common sense and respect to take home one’s waste. Even after the end of the hanami season, people can still help clean up Japan by taking part in community volunteer projects; the Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) can offer information on upcoming on and off base volunteer projects that range from environmental works to assisting the Red Cross. Not only the FFSC, but the Japanese Volunteer Action Centers always offer different volunteer projects that work with environmental issues and community bonding. Let us, as proud members of the military, become examples for others by keeping our cities and parks clean for the public.