Aug 11, 2018
One day, when my son was about a month old, the doorbell rang. My husband scurried off to answer it and found a delivery person standing outside. After a quick exchange, my husband returned, carrying a box.
"Look, it's for our son!" he exclaimed. "His first parcel!”
"What, for our son? Who is it from?"
It was from the ward office, about the size of a shoebox and heavy for its size. Baffled, we opened it up.
I'm not sure what my husband was expecting, but I thought it might be sort of like the showbag I'd gotten when we registered the pregnancy, full of discount coupons that I'd not gotten around to using and information brochures. It was not.
It was full of garbage bags.
Really. About twenty packets of garbage bags were packed tightly into the box, all of them in the specific design Chiba City requires for burnable waste - light green with ARIGATOU printed in large, bold Romaji across the front.
As a congratulatory present for a newborn, it was quite a letdown. Still, they were free and I wanted to make use of them. Unfortunately, we quickly discovered they were a bit problematic in that department as well. Every last one of them was 20 litres in size. We deduced that they were meant to help us dispose of our newborn's nappies. It seemed a bit presumptuous, but we were (and are) using disposable nappies so I gave them a try. It turned out they were too big for the bin we had allocated for nappies, however, so I tried to use them for regular household waste instead. This also didn’t work out as well as I hoped. Trying to get out rubbish into a 20 litre bag sounds nice in theory, the sort of thing I might have tried to do before I had children. It certainly wasn't something I was about to aim for when I was a new mother and working on just getting through the day!
I don't remember how we did it in the end, but we must have ended up using them eventually. They were long gone by the time our second child arrived. Unfortunately, there's been no change to the practice in meantime and so, once again, we had a box of garbage bags arrive not long after she was born. As of today, there’s still a barely touched box rubbish bags sitting in my tatami room. I can’t say I fully understand the reasoning behind them, but I assume some local politician somewhere feels like they’re doing us a good deed!
I'm Australian and married to a Japanese (post)man. We live in Chiba with our two children, where I work as an English teacher. I try to post something here once a week, and I also have a personal blog over at http://lyssays.wordpress.com/