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Friday, June 9, 2017

Can’t Get The Stink Out

With a nod towards rock group Radiohead from their song “Just”, Tokyo is trying to figure out how to get the stink out from their city.

The problem are odors emitted from the drainage pits installed under building that seem to be releasing stinky hydrogen sulphide- a gas that smell just like rotten eggs.

It’s like barf me out, gag me with a spoon!

Okay, that’s from Valley Girl as performed by Frank Zappa (and his daughter Moon).

Anyhow, local business in some area have formed patrols to sniff out where various stinks are coming from.

It’s not to placate local residents—no, who cares about that?

Rather it’s an effort to not look bad in front of the gaijin (outsider/foreigner) contingent that will descend upon Tokyo for the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games.

I can understand that… no one wants to be accused of smelling bad. 

I will say one thing—the Japanese should be pretty damn good at sniffing out the bad odors. Having watched far too many Japanese cooking shows in my three years in the country, one such example comes to mind:

It was a food challenge between taxi drivers... yes… taxi drivers. Blindfolded, they had to smell a cooked fish and determine its species… and damned if the two (or three) contestants didn’t do it perfectly.

Ya gotta love Japanese television where it seems like some 75% of all shows are related to cooking.   

So, in Kichijoji (a part of Musashino in Tokyo), some 30 shop owners from the area , along with city government workers, went off in six teams to patrol the downtown area, sniffing smells.

Finding a stink, they marked the stench’s area down on a map with future plans afoot to have building owners take care of the problem.

Apparently these smells having been popping up since 2000 within this mod and chic part of Tokyo, so you can all understand why Japan is quickly jumping on the issue now… after 16 years of complaints as noted by the Kichijoji Kasseika Kyogikai, an association of local shopkeepers.

Oooh that smell! Can’t you smell that smell?  (quotes Andrew from the Lynyrd Skynyrd song “That Smell”)… yes… locks of music in Andrew’ s step tonight… no… no reason.

The smell seems to be caused by the hydrogen sulphide gas that is created when “material” in wastewater that is collected in drainage tanks begins to decompose.

Beethoven is seen erasing his music in his crypt: “Quiet! Can’t you see I’m decomposing!?!”

(Okay, Beethoven was that generation’s rock star.) (That was part of a joke I heard some 40 years ago... and yet, I can't recall what I had for dinner yesterday.)

The problem in this area is that the sewage pipes aren’t that deep.

For example, restaurants and toilets that are located underground are actually lower than the sewage pipes which means that the wastewater is unable to flow away naturally, which means it gets collected in what are called sump pits (aka drainage pits) instead.

These pits are supposed to be regularly pumped out into the sewage system.

The problem with the smells occur when the wastewater is left for too long in the sump pump and begins to decompose meaning hydrogen sulphide is produced… the gas needs someplace to go and escapes up into the “wonderful smoggy air” of Tokyo via manhole covers…  hence that smell.

A way to resolve the problem is to 
  1. have sump pump material pick-ups scheduled more often, or;
  2. add better air-circulation systems in and around the sump pumps to inhibit the decomposition  (and thus forming of the hydrogen sulphide gas) of the wastewater and materials.
Since 2009, government officials began subsidizing construction work for item #2 above, with some 15 locations at 11 buildings being looked at as of April 2016.

The other solution, of course, and a cheaper one, is to not allow any tourists to visit the Kichijoji part of Tokyo.

All you need is a white-gloved policeman and a small two-foot high barricade and people will move like sheep to other more pleasant smelling parts of Tokyo.

Kanpai,
Andrew "does it to himself" Joseph
PS: Blurry image above is taken from the Radiohead video “Just” and shows a bunch of gaijin dead on the street. See:

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