Sunday morning was Ninomiya Day in our city which is a day that is designated as "Clean up Your Neighborhood Day". This is a common practice all over Japan but I think the name is different elsewhere. We have Ninomiya Day twice a year.
A notice was sent out to all the residences in the neighborhood that June 3rd was Ninomiya Day and each household was requested to send one member of the family, armed with rakes, shovels, scythes, grass cutters etc. to a meeting place at 7:00 in the morning and two hours would be spent in beautifying the neighborhood. Tetsu dutifully went at 7:00. I showed up about half an hour later (after my blog reading. Terrible me!) and we worked shoulder to shoulder with neighbors cleaning out gutters, raking leaves, picking up trash etc. We were each given two plastic bags and we searched for burnable trash and non-burnable trash in the empty lots and along the road. There was quite a pile when all of us were finished! Some of the men were climbing trees and cutting off overhanging branches, some people were basically doing garden work in their own gardens.
This sounds like a great idea and truly, the neighborhood gets spruced up and looks great, but there is a lot of grumbling going on too because inevitably there will be families who can't participate or who won't participate so there is a lot of finger pointing about so-and-so doesn't pull his load or so-and-so just stood around and watched. This is a problem with the group concept thinking in Japan. There are always, in any culture, different opinions about what should or should not be done or how it should be done. With some of the activities that we are asked to participate in a person goes and doesn't do much, but their presence assures everyone that the person has a cooperative spirit. It is sort of an ineffectual way of doing things. Younger people especially, no longer hold to the cooperative philosophy and the idea of independent thinking is very attractive. Sometimes I wonder how long the group effort can continue in modern Japan.
The neighborhood looks great though. Wish you could come and visit!