If you are walking around in nearly any city of Japan, you will quickly notice something, something that is missing: trash bins. They are nearly non-existent on most street corners, so what are Earth are you to do with your trash as you travel?
Japan is known for having some of the cleanest streets in the world. I can attest to that after visiting some of the biggest cities in the United States (Las Vegas, NYC, etc.), they have some of the cleanest streets and the reason for this is people pick up after themselves, which leads back to the first paragraph, where are the trash cans to throw away the trash?
Most trash cans can be found in either restrooms, outside of konbinis, or in train stations. It is rare to find them on street corners or other major hubs and the Japanese do this for a unique reason.
There are a lack of trash cans on the streets to avoid more trash. The belief is that with so many people, especially in Tokyo, it would be near impossible for any kind of service to keep the trash bins empty on any kind of regular schedule. The cans would be overwhelmed in minutes and would overflow trash on a regular basis, leading to more trash and smell (and especially in high traffic areas). So by keeping fewer cans out, people are forced to find cans or take it home with them (or littering which will get you into legal trouble). It’s kind of a fun trick to help keep the streets as clean as they can be.
So what does that mean for a tourist? Well, you will have to think like a local and either search for a train bin or be forced to take it with you along your way. Think ahead if you need to take something out of its packaging before leaving your hotel or if you need to carry a few bottles or water or something else, that can save you a trip or at least help you avoid hauling it around with you for the day.
Thinking like a local is the way to play it here.