Disposing a trash is easy. However, if you’re in Japan, think twice. Japan is known for its cleanliness, but it does not happen like magic. It takes effort and discipline. If you are planning on visiting the world’s cleanliest country, keep reading this article for helpful information’s to keep your trip fun and environmentally friendly.

Why does Japan lack garbage cans?: The Sarin Gas Attack in 1995

In March 20th ,1995, an incident known as “The Sarin Gas Attack”, where five members of a cult Aum Shinrikyo killed 12 people and injured 5,000 people by releasing a deadly sarin gas ( a gas known to be dangerous due to it being deadly despite being colorless and odorless )  that was wrapped in newspapers into subway trains in Tokyo during the early morning rush hour. At the time, Aum Shinrikyo had already caused similar terrorist attacks leaving Japan in fear of other possible terrorist attacks.

While the criminals were eventually caught, the incident left a traumatic mark into the citizens minds, leading them to demand the government for safety laws to ensure that the same incident won’t occur in the future. Reviewing similar incidents from the past, a security suggested that removing trash cans could be a possible solution due to it being a potential spot for terrorists to hide their weapons. The idea was approved and the whole of Japan is still following the rule up to this day.

Where to throw your trash?

Now, let’s get straight to the point. Where should you throw your trashes?. Here are some common places for Japanese people to thrown out their trash.

1) Convenience Stores

It’s definitely safe to say that you’ll encounter with more convenience stores than trash cans in Japan. When people enter convenience stores, the nearest thing from the entrance would be the trash can so that they can throw their trashes away easily. Moreover, if you plan on trying meals from convenience stores, it is better to finish eating near the entrance so that you won’t be troubled where to dispose your trash later on.

2) Train Stations

There are trash cans on every train stations in Japan. While it is quite disrespectful to eat in public, reading newspapers, brochures or drinking is not a problem. However, most Japanese people try to finish their errands before riding the train in order to avoid causing other people trouble. Due to this, at least 3 to 4 trash cans are on the platforms.

3) Toilets

While it is not an ideal place to throw your trash, it is definitely helpful if you have that annoying candy wrapper in hand for hours. However, this does not mean that you can throw away everything. Japanese toilets do not have very large trash cans. In fact, some can be surprisingly small. Therefore, if you were to throw your trash in the toilet, make sure that it’s the amount that will not trouble the people after you.

4) Vending Machines

Alike convenience stores, vending machines are also everywhere. When you are allowed to buy drinks, it also means that you can throw them away, right? Sure Thing! Every vending machine has a small trash can for cans, bottles and plastic bottles attached to it. However, be careful. Make sure not to throw away things other than the objects listed above because Japan is very strict  separating their trashes!

How to separate your trash in public?

When people are asked to throw their trashes away, they would normally throw it in a trash bin and DONE! Sounds easy, right? In Japan, however, while the purpose of finding a trash can is similar, once you get there, you’ll realize that there are several choices where to throw a trash depending on its kind! This is because Japan cares for their environment deeply and recycling has become a routine for them. Now, let’s find out how to separate trash the Japanese way!

1)Burnable Trash (燃えるゴミ)

-these are basic daily trash. Just like what it is called, things that are burnable.An example would be food, wrappers, papers, trashes that when are set on fire, will eventually turn into ashes!

2)Unburnable Trash(燃えないゴミ)

-In contrast with burnable trashes, unburnable trashes may also turn to ashes or melt, but it will not disappear entirely. In addition, it may release toxic chemicals that could damage the atmosphere and human health. An example would be Styrofoam and plastics!

3)PET bottles(ペットボトル)/Glass (BIN)(びん、瓶)

-The trash where you throw you drinks is very easy to understand. There are pictures in the trash can itself so as to avoid confusion. You are also free to throw PET bottles, glass or cans in the trash cans near the vending machines freely. Note that flatting them before throwing away is a sign of discipline in Japan!


The way Japan handles their trash is very strict and people who are new to these rules mostly find it annoying. However, do not forget that the cleanest country in the world will not exist without these rules and without the people who follow them thoroughly. Instead of opposing to these very detailed routine, let’s enjoy a brand new culture and learn from it!