Thursday, March 22, 2007

People-less Stands

We kinda live out in the boonies. And while there are a lot of things crummy about living in the sticks (the nearest movie theater is a fifty minute drive away, no bookstores with English language books, and not one Subway Sandwhich Store), there are some wonderful things as well (air, quiet, and a bazillion stars that are visable on a clear night. I can't tell you how many times that that alone has made up for lack of movies, chocolate, and literature).

We also have these things called mujin hanbai. Mujin means something like 'no person' or 'unmanned' and hanbai means "to sell". And that is exactly what they are. The farmers build them and leave them up all year round. From here they sell any extra fruit or vegetables they've picked that morning. Here's a picture of one taken near our house. It looks like it has onions and radishes and potatoes today.

What I like about them is that they are all done on the honor system. You go, pay your one hundred yen (or whatever price is written), take your veggies and go. There is a nice handwritten sign that thanks you for your business.

Here's one that is even closer to my house. It sells seasonal flowers. Sometimes when I'm working in the garden and discover a pot that needs filling, I'll grab a handful of change and walk over here to pick up some color.

You can see the little box for the money as well as (below) a plastic bag full of more plastic bags to help you carry your flowers home. I've even seen mujin hanbai that sell cow poop.

What never ceases to amaze me though is that no one steals this stuff. No one takes the vegetables or the fruit or the flowers. No one breaks into the little box to swipe the change. It makes me feel like a deviant to even think that anyone would be tempted. Because when I quiz friends they say, "Why of course no one would steal the stuff! It isn't theirs. Why would they?" Well, I can understand no one pilfering the cow manure but most of the time this stuff stays out all night long. And you're telling me no crazed teenager hasn't ripped off some tomatoes and ruined a house? Nope. Wow.

I just really, really like that this system works.


Anonymous said...

When I lived in Hamamatsu, I used to make runs to the other side of Hamanako just to pick up huge bags of mikans for 100 yen. Sometimes the prices were so low that I would feel a little guilty and leave an extra 50-100 yen.

Pat said...

Wow, isn't that amazing? Isn't it sad that I (and the rest of us Americans, I'm sure) find that amazing? Sounds like a great place to live, KNH!

jean said...

I wonder if people do steal the stuff, though. I passed a guy once who I thought might have been trying to rip off the money box at one of those stands. It'd be neat to talk to someone who runs one of those stands to get 'the inside story.'

Bk30 said...

I think it it has to do with the eastern mind. This is not a bad thing. Like how the kid from po dunk mississippi will turn in the money he finds, where a kid from chicago would keep it. Not that one is better than the other but raised with different values. Social rules that can not be broken. Honnor, your word, not bringing shame to your family. Glad to know it does still exsist somewhere, it gives me hope.

Kappa no He said...

Imo: How sweet! I've never short changed anyone but I've never given them anything extra either. I'll have to try that.

Pat: All this time and it still amazes me.

Jean: No way! You saw that...okay, were you in my town or your town?? Good idea though. I think I'll go and befriend one of these old ladies to see if she has ever had anything taken or broken into.

Hey, did you feel the earthquake?

BK: Yea, it is hopeful. Sweet things like that make me happy.

jean said...

My town. 'Aha, that explains it!' you say??

Didn't feel the earthquake. Seemed like I was up most of the night with that storm so slept in late (REAL late...)

Kappa no He said...

Jean: Actually, truth be told, had you said my town (meaning mine, not yours) I probably would have said, "Ma~ soukamo ne~". Your town is so much more fancier and well behaved...or so I thought!

I totally felt it. No one else in the house did. If that was a three, crap, I'd hate to be in a seven...much less a NINE like they expect to hit us when all three plates spring.

I'm working out a plan for Tuesday night, btw. I might be able to bring some pro Jude to the table.

Anonymous said...

Of course, you realize that these stands are a result of the Nogyo marketing boards. Those "coops" tell farmers how much of their produce they can sell to wholesalers through the nogyo coops. The stuff you see in the stands is surplus produce that is above the farmer's quota so that he can't legally sell it to greengrocers, or it's stuff that the farmer doesn't let nogyo know about. The nogyo does allow private sales to individuals, hence the cheap prices, as the farmer gets zero from the coop for those hakusai or 100 yen from you.

Yes, you're sitting right near ground zero for the next, and overdue, Tokai quake - >M8.5 .(Another reason to be happy I'm not there!) The people in Japan at least have made some attempt to get people to prepare. There's going to be a big one in the Seattle area, too, but most people there don't have a clue that they're going to be on their own for days or even weeks when the ports and I-5 corridor are closed, and the isolated towns in the Olympics and Cascades could be alone for months. Nobody in either country talks about how those quakes also seem to trigger volcanic eruptions a few decades later.

Kappa no He said...

I didn't realize you were in for an earthquake as well. Hey, I remember when you use to hide money and stuff around your house. You said so that if there was ever a big earthquake you'd be the only one with money because you knew where all your secret stashes were.