People in Japan are appalled at the piles of rubbish left behind by visitors this year.

Every year, the cherry blossoms unfurl their pretty petals in spring, and every year local and overseas visitors gather under the sakura trees to admire the beauty of the flowers with a hanami flower-viewing picnic.

However, with so many people laying out tarps and platters of food and alcoholic beverages for large groups of friends and coworkers, these picnics can turn into messy drunken parties by the end of the night, and by the time the sun comes up, it shines a light on the darker side of hanami: unsightly piles of left-behind trash.

Japanese netizens have been sharing images of the garbage situation at various sakura spots throughout Japan, saying they’re appalled at the amount of trash people leave behind after admiring the blossoms. In a country where people are taught not to litter from a very young age, and are used to taking their trash home with them when they can’t find a trash can, these photos showing leftovers strewn about some of the country’s prettiest sakura spots have angered people in Japan. And now they’re urging everyone to mind their manners and show more regard for other people wanting to share these popular public spaces.

This twitter user shared an image of a “trash mountain” at his local park. Though it might look like a neat pile, @arigatohappynes comments that uncovered trash like this attracts birds, who get into the plastic bags and throw their contents around, making a huge mess which annoys locals.

“After enjoying yourselves, please take your trash home with you!”

Even if you think you’ve done a good job of placing your trash-filled bags in a neat pile, once the crows arrive, they’ll dig their beaks into the bags and throw a hanami party of their own.

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The Tokyo Parks Association sent out this tweet, asking people to be more careful about taking their garbage with them when they go home.

At Nakameguro, trash was seen near the trees and on the bridges which spread across Meguro River. Not only are revellers polluting the streets here, they’re polluting the waterways as well.

Park staff at Kokura Castle in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture shared images of broken sakura branches, abandoned barbecue grills and scattered trash. Although they say this is an improvement on conditions from last year’s hanami season, they are urging visitors to be more considerate in future.

Twitter user @rireki114514, who snapped a photo of the morning-after scene at Tsuruma Park in Nagoya city, Aichi Prefecture, didn’t hold back his disgust, saying that seeing homeless people clean up the mess in the park was heartbreaking and made him feel a deep sense of shame.

While many might argue that it’s up to the city council to provide more trash receptacles and better systems to help prevent the problem, even at Ueno Park, where there are a large number of waste areas for groups to dispose trash, the piles of garbage are still overwhelming.

Even when there are bins, like these ones at Tokyo’s Koganei Park, some people don’t seem to know how to use them.

People online were appalled to see the images appearing on social media, leaving comments like:

“It’s terrible that people don’t consider the next person who’ll be using the space. What if they were the ones who had to use the space after themselves? They’d be disgusted.”
“This is what happens when people get drunk and forget their manners.”
“Pictures like this make me feel sick.”
“I saw on the news that a fire broke out after someone flicked their lit cigarette into a pile of rubbish like this.”
“If this keeps happening, parks might ban hanami parties on their grounds in the future.”
“This happens year after year. Someone needs to come up with a better plan to prevent this from happening.”

While it might be feasible for individuals and small groups to take their garbage home with them, it’s less likely that those in larger groups, especially those dealing with the hierarchical kohai/senpai dynamics of a workplace hanami picnic, will be able to lug big bags of trash home with them on the train.

Which makes us hope that the mesh-covered garbage system seen at Tokyo’s Komazawa Olympic Park will become more widely used by other busy hanami spots in future.

When thousands of people in Japan come together to celebrate seasonal events like cherry blossom viewing or Halloween, it’s truly alarming to see just how much trash piles up in their wake. Personally, we’ll be carrying as much of our trash home with us in these 100-yen trash bags, to help keep the environment clean and ease the workload on these litter-fighting samurai warriors.

Source: Hachima Kikou
Featured image: Twitter/@ParksToneri