Friday, January 27, 2012
Did I ever mention on this blog that I used to live in Japan? I did, for three and a half years. I lived in Osaka, which is classed as a megacity. (I used to think I was a city girl until I moved there. Boston is the sticks, people. There's a reason why we say we're going "in town.")
Not one foreigner purchased their furniture there. We all got our stuff from gomi.
Gomi is Japanese for trash, but it's not like we were rooting around in dumpsters for stuff. There were specific days when people could put out their furniture and small appliances for curbside pickup. Well, if you needed a kotatsu table* or a kitchen set. . .it beat going to Daiei (a Japanese department store, though not a fancy one) and shelling out the devil only knows how much on the stuff.
Me, I was lucky in that the place I moved into was already furnished--my housemates had already scavenged. But I wouldn't have been above doing it myself if I needed it. Some of the stuff people put out for pickup was gorgeous--one of my coworkers married a Japanese guy who got into furnishing their place with this stuff once he saw something he identified as a designer item. In fact, once our students realized we did this, they'd let us know if they were getting rid of stuff--"Hey, we were going to get rid of the kotatsu table; did you want it?" As one student said, "I like new things and I have the money for them but I hate to waste things--if you like this you should use it!"
I've heard that it's no longer limited to foreigners doing this--there are Japanese people who do this as well, now. I suspect there have been Japanese who have done this for a while, actually.
* I miss kotatsu tables. On a cold winter's day or evening in a place with no insulation, they are the best. Those and the bathtubs in Japan.