It’s been interesting being back in San Diego for this brief trip before we return to Japan on Sunday. Part of the reason we’re here is to set up a new condo I bought to serve as a San Diego Comicon party pad, I mean a base of operations for J-List in the U.S., and we’ve been buying furniture and dishes and getting everything liveable. American houses are fundamentally different from Japanese homes, of course, and I’ve enjoyed watching my family get used to the new place. American homes lack a genkan, the lowered area near the front door where shoes are removed, so there’s always a bit of confusion about where to store the shoes (usually they’re just jumbled around the front door in a mess). While Japanese are culturally disposed toward hardwood flooring, most American homes (in California at least) have luxurious wall-to-wall carpeting, which many Japanese love as much as gaijin fawn over tatami mats. Japanese homes never have electric garbage disposals, and my family has repeatedly tried to turn on the kitchen “light” only to be surprised by a roaring sound from the sink. The building we’re in has a bin for “recycle” trash, but there’s almost no separation beyond that point. My wife is used to Japanese gomi separation rules, and she started meticulously sorting cans (steel and aluminum), plastics, “natural resource” items like PET bottles and newspapers, and “dangerous items” like light bulbs until I told her it wasn’t necessary. (Incidentally, if you want to live a little more green, J-List has restocked the “Sankaku” kitchen nets for separating your kitchen garbage, also great for composting.)
My wife tried Japan-style recycling in the U.S.