Reply Fri 2 Feb, 2007 06:02 pm
if you think you have troublesome neighbours ... just count yourself lucky you don't live in the neighbourhood of some people that the japantimes correspondent mark schreiber writes about .

Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007

Nasty neighbors who literally raise a stink

Spa! (Jan. 23)
Loving thy neighbor has never been easy. But if you've ever had the misfortune of encountering some of the certifiable cuckoos -- who Spa! refers to as saiko na rinjin (psychotic neighbors) -- you might appreciate those living in your immediate vicinity a little more.

For residents of the west Tokyo suburb of Tachikawa, this psychosis takes the form of not one but several homes whose yards are heaped with a potpourri of discarded appliances, tires, hubcaps and other parts from automobiles, scooters and bicycles. A junkyard? A waste recycling plant? Guess again. This phenomenon is referred to in the vernacular as a gomi yashiki (mansion of rubbish), a native art form that exponents of neo-Dadaism would no doubt find pleasing.

In addition to being firetraps, such abodes also pose health concerns, as they provide nesting places for rats, cockroaches and other vermin. They have also been known to degrade property values and drive away tenants from nearby rental housing.

And it's not only occurring in Tokyo. In Yamanashi, a "sutra condominium" was the scene of a lawsuit, as the building owner went to court to evict a tenant in the practice of chanting Buddhist prayers at inappropriate hours and at ear-splitting volumes.

In Kyoto, a woman residing in public housing was chastised for feeding pigeons, whose droppings disgusted neighbors with their foul odor.

And a woman in Omuta, Fukuoka Prefecture, was arrested after skeletonized human remains were unearthed from the clutter around her slovenly abode.

Worse than the simple but harmless eccentrics are those who intentionally make themselves a nuisance due to some real or imagined grudge. In the true sense of the term, a "psycho neighbor" not only disregards warnings from the authorities, but becomes incensed by them.

Take the notorious "Soon Obasan (Auntie Noise)" of Heguri in Nara Prefecture. The epithet was applied to Miyoko Kawahara, age 59, who blasted her hapless neighbor with molar-rattling rock music from a boom box, round the clock, for two and a half years, while ignoring orders to cease and desist.

"After she was arrested, we were flooded with messages from all over the country, asking why nothing had been done to stop her sooner," a worker at the town office tells Spa!

Kawahara lost her appeal to the Supreme Court, which last July confirmed a whopping fine and 20-month prison sentence. And thanks to her, Heguri passed the nation's first ordinance that specifically prohibits noise produced by "all musical instruments, radios and audio devices, human voices or other sounds that create a nuisance for others."

But the Nuisance Grand Prix should definitely go to a gentleman in his 50s in Tokyo's Nakano Ward whose abode is described as funnyo yashiki (a house of human waste).

Almost daily the man -- referred to by local teens as unko-oyaji (crapman), as his name was kept out of the press -- would transfer the contents of his toilet and kitchen waste to a large pot in his back yard and, after bringing the loathsome mixture to a rolling boil, immerse large cloths, which he hung out on his clothesline, producing an overpowering stench particularly pungent during the warm summer months. This went on for four years.

The man was apparently motivated by a grudge against merchants on the nearby Kawashima shopping street.

"We begged the cops, the fire department, and the public health department, but they wouldn't do anything," relates a store operator. "Finally after the story was shown on TV, they were moved to take action."

After refusing to desist in his dirty depredations, the owner of Nakano's funnyo yashiki was placed under arrest and his house presently stands abandoned. But so potent was the stench that six months later the foul odors still linger.

"At last after four years, our lives are regaining a semblance of normality," a local shopkeeper sighs with visible relief. "I hope and pray he never comes back."

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