THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
January 6, 2023 at 19:03 JST
OSAKA--Littering has long soiled the bustling Dotonbori district here as tourists who enjoyed takoyaki and other local specialties often just tossed away the plastic trays and sticks.
But now local merchants are banking on two garbage bins that speak with a Kansai accent, which made their debut on Jan. 5, to improve visitors’ manners.
When a person opens the lid of a container and throws garbage in, a voice comes from the container that says, “Ookini,” or thank you in the vernacular dialect.
They are located near the famed “Glico Man” sign looming over the Ebisubashi bridge.
One of the internet-connected devices is for combustible trash and the other is for plastic bottles, cans and glass bottles.
The one for combustible trash has a 125-liter capacity and is equipped with a solar panel.
Once the container is filled with a certain volume of garbage, it is detected by a sensor and the container compresses the trash inside automatically, allowing the bin to contain five times the capacity.
Such information and other data are transferred via a communication terminal to the operator, which then knows it is time to collect the garbage and keep the trash from overflowing and the streets clean.
Users can also benefit from the trash bins by scanning a QR code with a smartphone and answer a questionnaire to receive coupons that can be used at nearby shops.
The idea came about as an act of desperation from local merchants, who had grappled with littering. Yet, they had not placed a trash can on the streets.
“Because we thought trash cans would attract more trash, and the trash would overflow and create even more unsanitary conditions,” a representative said.
But tourist traffic started returning to the downtown district as COVID-19 travel restrictions were eased.
The merchants expect more tourists in the future.
They thought something had to be done to keep the aesthetics and sanitation situation of Dotonbori from worsening.
The two trash bins are a trial experiment by local merchants’ associations, JTB Corp. and NTT Communications Corp.
The experiment will continue until Feb. 5.
Prior to the installation of the two garbage bins, staff picked up trash on the streets by using a pair of tongs equipped with a camera and a smartphone.
They will do the same after the trial period is over.
Then they will analyze the collected data, such as the types of garbage and location information, and compare the situation before and after the experiment.
JTB Corp., a leading travel agency, has tackled the thorny issues of littering in sightseeing spots around the nation.
In 2022, the company installed a fee-based trash can in Mount Tanigawa extending across Gunma and Niigata prefectures.
The can collected about 10,000 yen ($75) in two months, the company said.
JTB also conducted a similar experiment in the popular Nishiki Market tourist spot in Kyoto.
(This article was written by Daisuke Matsuoka and Takashi Yoshida.)
Two garbage bins are installed on the busy street of Dotonbori, central Osaka, on Jan. 5. They are connected to the internet and say “thank you” in a Kansai dialect when a person throws trash in. (Takashi Yoshida)
Visit this page for the latest news on Japan’s battle with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Cooking experts, chefs and others involved in the field of food introduce their special recipes intertwined with their paths in life.
Here is a collection of first-hand accounts by “hibakusha” atomic bomb survivors.
The Asahi Shimbun aims “to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” through its Gender Equality Declaration.
Let’s explore the Japanese capital from the viewpoint of wheelchair users and people with disabilities with Barry Joshua Grisdale.