Sites and Sounds of Japan - the Used Goods Truck

Oct. 13, 2014


As you wander around Tokyo you may see some little trucks driving very slowly along the street with a very loud announcement, and perhaps a bit of music, emanating from a loudspeaker system attached to the truck.

Look at the truck and if you see old TVs, computers, washing machines, or other items that may range from junk to used goods then you're looking at one of the many trucks that drive through Japan's neighborhoods taking used or junk items off the owners' hands.

The loudspeaker may use a man's voice, but it's more common to use a woman's voice. The voice is recorded and plays the same message over and over. It tells the people "we'll take your used goods - we take most anything - talk to me about your used goods...."

They do take most everything, but there may be some items they refuse because those can't be recycled or resold.

Most things are not taken for free. The fee they charge varies from zero to several thousand yen depending on the item. That's where the "discussion" part comes in.

If you see a little truck with long poles in the back rather than used items these are the "saotake" trucks (bamboo poles). These trucks drive around selling the poles that Japanese use to hang their clothes from to dry on their balconies. Of course, these days the poles are typically made of aluminum, but it's still possible to find the traditional bamboo poles.

Copyright Joe Peters, October 2014

by Joe Peters

You might also like