After living in the sharehouse for a week I begin to get used to it and feel a sense of home. It explains again the power of habit.
The first day I moved in, after the agent had explained the contract and briefly showed the house, she told me the three persons living in the sharehouse had to share the cleaning duty of the house. When her finger brushed against the roaster attached onto the fridge door by a fridge magnet, she exclaimed: Oh, so it is your turn to clean the house this week!
In order to show that I am very ready to adapt to Japanese Sharehouse culture, I accepted the task almost too enthusiastically. I did not even know where the garbage bags were.
In Japan they have waste sorting, and each day a specific type of garbage is collected. Here there are basically four types: Plastic, glass bottles and cans; plastic products, containers and packages; small metals; general home garbage. Containers and packages have to be thoroughly washed before disposal into the specific garbage bag. Around 8am every morning the garbage is collected, and you have to place the specified type of garbage at the specified spot before then. As there is usually food within general home garbage, you have to place a net over the garbage to avoid crows eating.
When to dispose of what garbage, what garbage bag to use for what garbage – it was a bit confusing at first, but not much of a problem once one got used to it. So I think it is possible to promote waste sorting in Hong Kong, and one cannot help suspecting why the government never forcefully implement it.
However there were other things that inspire awe in me. Since I was on duty, I briefly inspected the house and cleaning utensils. I found that the garbage bags were divided into two types: yellow for the general home garbage, and clear for the other resource garbages. Big labels were printed onto the bags, and that left one no room for mistake or any kind of creativity. One almost worried if the garbage would not be collected if put in a different bag.
Then came wet tissue paper, which included floor-use and toilet-use, and I am sure there are many more types of tissue paper for different purposes. The same for sponges. I have seen sponges in different sizes and shapes in Hong Kong, but never in packages printed with their designated purposes. Then we had plastic wraps and bags. When you go to the pharmacy, you will find many more curious things with designated purposes. Should we say that is the delicacy of Japanese that cares for every aspect of living?
Yet I faintly recall a sense of restriction.
It seems to be forbidden if one does not do things the right way but follow one’s own method. Like my worry that the garbage, if put in the wrong bag, would not be collected. There is this feeling.
To some extent I prefer to do things in a designated way, and detest carelessness. Even the goal is achieved, sometimes in a faster way, I would still feel a sense of unfulfillment, unprofessionalism, and failure.
And yet when I saw the various dishes and wares inside the cupboard, I could not help smiling. Wares of various shapes and sizes created for various purposes, they were but cheap stuff used in ordinary households. But even in this mundaneness I could see the Japanese sensibility and demand for quality living. Sensibility and demand. Knowing that I can use different wares for different meals, I feel that I can somehow enjoy Japanese living now.