Monday, April 26, 2010

Wonderful Hike Before a Hot Spring Destroyed By Trash

Why do so many Japanese people throw their trash on the sides of mountain roads? Old Japan, the birthplace of haiku, had a reputation for being a country of nature lovers;  modern Japan is becoming known as a country with trash on its beaches, rivers, and mountain trails. 

My wife, dogs, and I walked from Shibaseki Hot Spring to the area of Myoban Hot Springs 
along a verdant trail that winded through cedar, bamboo, and other native vegetation of Beppu City, Oita Prefecture.  We relished the expansive views of Beppu Bay.  Soft breezes sweeping along the surface of streams cooled us as walked up the steep areas.  At times, I felt as if I were far away from Beppu and Oita.  No one else was using this trail despite it being a weekend.  Instead of the usual daily sound of cars, I heard bird calls.

As we approached the entrance from the Myoban side, I discovered piles of trash that had been dumped in the ravines and behind bushes near the trail.  Most of the trash was the ubiquitous trash found all over Japan: cans, cigarette packages, plastic bags, stolen or discarded bicycles, and tires, but then I saw through the leaves, containers of pesticides and containers of various toxic petroleum-based substances.

These substances are seeping into the soil.  If they are not already polluting the drinking and bathing water of Beppu, they will in the future.

I have encountered this disgusting, illegal and immoral disposal method too often across Japan.  It saddens and angers me.  Why does it happen? What can we do about it?  My wife, noticing that I was losing my pleasure in the walk, suggested that I avoid looking at the trash.  I gathered up one bag of trash, a tiny drop in an ocean of pollution, and carried it out.  If you ever see people littering, speak to them in a loud voice and tell them to stop.  Whenever you can, pick up some trash and properly dispose of it.  Demand that your government officials take steps to prevent more pollution.  If we do nothing, the poisons in trash will poison our drinking water and bathing water.