By all accounts, this year’s Fuji Rock Festival was a success. Punters of all ages and demographics enjoyed the laid-back vibe at the three-day music spectacular — give or take the constant rain — and most social media posts about the event focused on good times. Not everyone was happy, though.
Dig a little deeper and another particularly vocal crowd emerges. On the official Japanese-language Fuji Rock blog, several posts featured photos of the grounds covered in trash, one featuring a photo of a garbage-coated table was simply titled “How does this make you feel?” Similar sentiments appeared on social media, with users posting shots of abandoned cans and others trying to assess blame (soft verdict: probably young people, possibly foreigners).
Garbage and the failure of some to clean it up has become a recurring issue among Japanese netizens. The annual Sumida River fireworks took place the same weekend as Fuji Rock, and Twitter users circulated pictures of “mountains of garbage.” Many online expressed shock at the lack of morals from those in attendance who saw it as OK to just leave their litter in the street.
The outrage isn’t recent, though, similar outcries have happened over the Halloween revelry at Shibuya Crossing and the Ultra Music Festival in Odaiba.
Japan takes pride in its cleanliness. In a much-shared story years ago, Japanese fans attending the 2014 World Cup in Brazil cleaned up the stadium they were in following a match — and the world was impressed. The domestic media often trumpets how spotless the country is — though these pieces can be a bit puffed up, try stopping by Yoyogi Park during hanami (cherry blossom viewing) season — and tourists tend to agree. Fuji Rock acts as a microcosm of this, as fans and organizers boast about it being one of the most environmentally friendly festivals in the world.
So when these massive events happen and litter is left behind, people get upset — and more of these large-sized experiences are happening. Trawling social media, most blame gets dolled out to a familiar crowd — young people, who clearly aren’t as morally upstanding as the generations that came before them (source: the generations that came before them). A smaller but still visible crowd blames the uptick in non-Japanese visitors and residents (possibly fueled by pre-Olympics tension), ranging from those who think they just don’t understand how things work here to a more outright xenophobic minority.
Although it’s just a particularly vocal group on Twitter for now, complaints about litter might rise as more and more massive gatherings are held and people see an increase in tourists. No one group is behind these instances of garbage, but it is good reminder for a lesson applicable to anywhere on the planet: Always clean up after yourself. Even if you’re not worried about being shamed online, it’s just the polite thing to do.