Saturday, October 09, 2010

Neighborhood messageboard

There are things in Japan that don't understand but maybe are important. I'm sure a lot of Japanese would say I'm off the wall with my statement, but I don't like the homeowners association's Kairanban in my neighborhood and don't see the necessity.

A Kairanban is a plastic (until a few years ago it was cardboard) neighborhood message board that circulates to each homeowner.

As a homeowner and a member of the homeowners association we pay dues every month... Or in our case about $50 every three months. As members, we are required to participate in the neighborhood politics. There is a chairman, a vice chairman, a treasurer, an environment chairman, a health and sports chairman, a child-raising group chairman and a lot more duties that I forget. (I was the safety chairman for 4 years.) Maybe 20 in all. On top of that, the whole neighborhood of about 250 homes, is broken up into blocks or groups and we have group leader duty every 7 years.

Oh gosh... I guess I've written a lot of my complaints here and here... I won't go into all of that...

Being a member of the homeowner's association entitles us to information distributed by the city. About once a week we get a newsletter that comes to our house via the neighborhood group leader, via the homeowner's association, via the city. Traditionally, the Kairanban was a way for neighbors to stay in touch with the neighborhood. It was passed from hand to hand and a few words of greeting were exchanged with your next door neighbors. Nowadays everyone is too busy and it was decided that Kairanban were best left by the mailbox.

So, what sort of messages are circulated? Deaths are posted... Invitations to the association for the elderly's flower arranging exhibit... New homeowners are introduced... The local elementary school and jr. high distribute their news... The city lets us know when baby vaccinations will be available... Advertisements are posted for up-coming concerts...

I often say to Tetsu,

"Why do they need to send around all this stuff? Can't people just look in the newspapers and find out which dentist is on emergency call? Don't a majority of homes have computers where if we really wanted to donate money we could get the information? Or use the telephone? American homeowners get along without all this stuff. This is such a waste of money and time." (Somebody has to deliver papers, somebody has to divvy them up into group packets, somebody has to deliver the notice boards to the homes.)

Sometimes all we have to do is glance at the clipboard, add our family chop (signature) to prove that we have responsibly reviewed the information, and then deposit it in front of our neighbor's house. Sometimes there are numerous papers that each homeowner gets from the city and a ream of those get directly thrown into the wastebasket in my house. In all the 20 years that I have lived here I have NEVER needed a single paper that came to my house.

A lot of all this information is repeated in the newspapers anyway (which I also don't read but Tetsu does) so I really think the Kairanban system is generating a lot of waste... But I guess I'm in a minority. This is part of belonging to a Japanese community.

No comments: