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Wrapping Fever

August 13th, 2003

Anyone who’s lived in Japan even for a short while is aware of the over-wrapping that sometimes occurs at Japanese stores. Once, at a food shop in the basement of a department store in Futago-Tamagawa, I bought an item of food that was already in a wrapper, This item was wrapped in paper, then placed into a baggie, and that was put into a shopping bag–or it would have been, if I hadn’t stopped the farce right there, then took the item from the baggie and walked off. I didn’t return the wrapping paper because I knew they’d just throw it out anyway (which they likely did for the baggie).

McDonald’s does a similar thing. You get one of the lunch sets, and they put the hamburger (wrapped) into a bag with the fries, and then the drink gets its own bag, and then those two are put into a large plastic bag. I always have to remind them, sometimes more than once, to forget the plastic bag, and even the paper bags–if I get nuggets, for example, I just carry the damned box and slip the sauce into my pocket. But I get the feeling that I’m the only one who does that.

Today, I went to the supermarket, armed with my backpack as usual. I don’t always refuse their bags, though–it’s like getting free trash bags, really, and saves having to buy them. But it’s more convenient to use the backpack, anyway (who likes the plastic bag handles cutting into you hands?).

But when you buy dishes, like I did today, you get more wrapping fever. I bought four mid-sized plates tonight, and at the checkout stand, the guy started to individually wrap each one in pieces of paper way to big–and it was clear he was going to put all of them into a paper bag to boot.

So I stopped him before he could tape up the first one; I unwrapped it part-way, still leaving the plate covered top and bottom. I put plate #2 on top and then covered that with the remaining paper, then put the other plates on top and bottom of that.

“There,” I told him. “That’ll do fine.”

He smiled, nodded, and said, “Thanks, and sorry, the store makes me do that.”

The dishes survived the trip quite well.

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  1. August 14th, 2003 at 11:05 | #1

    “Sometimes occurs,” Luis? You must live in a fairly environmentally conscious neighborhood if overwrapping only occurs sometimes. 😉

  2. Luis
    August 14th, 2003 at 11:09 | #2

    Mea culpa. You’re right, it is rather institutionalized. :-)

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