Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My Craptacular Mailbox

It seems my mailbox had a flyer explosion as there were 12 pieces of promotional garbage in it. There were only 3 actual pieces of mail in amongst this big mess.

The flyer with the babe on the left is for a new health club near the local JR (Japan Railway) station called "WOW'D" (short for "Work Out World" it seems). The main selling point of this place seems to be that all the equipment has video screens built into it so that you can watch something while you exercise (perhaps motivational video since the slogan for this slick joint is "motivates everyone to be fit"). It's also got higher rates than the place nearby that my husband uses for swimming.

Three of the others are menus for delivery places. The biggest one is a Chinese restaurant that we've had food from before. It's okay but heavy on the noodle selection and light on chicken dishes and neither my husband nor I is a noodle fan. They also used to feature a picture of what looked like a whole baby pig (snout, eyes and all) on the front of their menus and it made us too sick to even open their menu. Eventually, they changed the picture for that dish. The tiny menu is for an overpriced steak place and another is for a sushi restaurant. Of course, I think that there's no such thing as a steak restaurant in Japan which isn't overpriced.

My husband and I don't get delivered food or eat out much because we're trying to live frugally and delivered food costs between two and five times more than eating in. We sometimes get pizza or curry but the places we order from do not leave flyers in our mailbox. Perhaps they get enough business that they don't have to paper bomb us all the time to get customers.

Most of the rest of the flyers are for massage and relaxation services and, ironically, "recycle" shops that will pick up items you don't want anymore (for a fee in most cases) and clean them up and sell them. I say it's ironic because these flyers make the most frequent appearances in our mailbox and represent the greatest waste yet the shops themselves are supposed to be reducing waste by recycling items rather than allowing them to be tossed in the trash.

In the past, a much greater portion of the paper left in our mailbox was for various pornographic services. Some of it was for "Q-dial" girls which I think was some sort of phone sex service. Some of it was for purchasing porno videos and the rest possibly for back door ways to access prostitutes. Some of it was pretty funny stuff. I'm guessing that the internet has offered a more discreet and cost-effective means of reaching their target audience than having someone drive around in a scooter dropping flyers in mailboxes.

The main problem we have, aside from the tremendous waste this represents, is that real mail can get lost in the pile of trash unless you painstakingly sort out each and every piece. It's been a great concern when we've had to wait for communication from the immigration office. When you apply for a visa, you fill out a postcard which they send you to notify you that your application has been processed and you have to return to get your visa. The card can easily get lost in such a mess and then life can be very complicated as the card has a deadline by which you should appear at the office.

In the United States, this sort of mailbox pollution is illegal. You can only get into mailboxes via junk mail. I'm pretty sure that it has little to do with the U.S. being more enlightened and more to do with the postal service making sure they get paid as part of the customer snail mail spamming process.


mitzh said...

I guess living in Tokyo means more flyer ?!!?

We don't get that many. Just flyer from newly built mansions, health club and food delivery menu...

I agree, it just adds to more waste.
I remember when I first visited Japan I was in awe on how clean it was. But now as I look around, it saddens me that it's not as clean as it used to be..

Anyway, now I seem to get it, why my neighbour doesn't check their mailbox daily. Just on specific dates/days when they know the important mail arrives.

Oh well, I love a clean mailbox so I'll keep checking it everyday! :D

Hope that you're feeling much better. Thanks for dropping by my page.

Take care always!

Shari said...

I think Tokyo gets more because it's more cost effective to distribute them due to the population density. Someone driving up in front of one building allows them to distribute between 6 and possibly 50 flyers at once. In the less densely populated areas, I'm guessing it takes too much time to really hit everyone.

I don't know if Tokyo is any dirtier than it once was but it's certainly no cleaner. What I tend to see more of now are vacant lots that trash is tossed into and not cleaned up. When we first arrived, there were very few vacant lots because the economy was still enjoying the end of the "bubble".

Now, land is pricey enough and the economy weak enough that some choice areas go fallow before someone can afford to build on them and they tend to be used as junk pits. I'm guessing their owners don't care enough (or come by enough) to clean them up when people toss cans, butts, and various flotsom into them.