world news Leave It To Japan To Bring Out The Fun In Collecting Trash There's a reason it's one of the planet's cleanest countries. Samurai Who Pick Up Litter Morumotto/Shutterstock
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Tokyo is one of the world’s cleanest major cities, and that’s by design. Communities around the world try to spread the message that cleaning up neighborhoods is important, but most of those efforts tend to fall on deaf ears.

Thanks to some clever marketing, however, Japan has been able to reach more of its population than you might suspect.

Fighting litter (literally)

The samurai culture is deeply ingrained into Japanese history, and the Gomi Hiroi group uses that to its advantage. The name translates to the “trash-collecting samurai,” and that’s exactly what the actors associated with this movement are.

Two of the group’s four members could be seen on the streets of Tokyo recently and took a moment to reflect on the importance of their mission.

Kaz Kobayashi and Ikki Goto were dressed head to toe like traditional samurai fighters — but instead of their katana swords, they brandished long tongs they used to pick up trash.

“We’re doing this as entertainment,” Kobayashi said. “But it can be tiring sometimes. It’s tough man.”

He added that the previous day, a Friday, saw many people “smoking and drinking around here, so there’s a lot of trash.”

Their act has gone viral

In the social media age, it’s not surprising that such a novelty demonstration has attracted a wide following across Tokyo and around the world. Since Goto created the group in 2009, its message has been spread far and wide.

Currently, Gomi Hiroi boasts more than 700,000 TikTok followers.

The four members stage performances three times a week and even when they’re not in uniform they’re working hard to help keep the city clean.

One local, Manaka Nishibiro, validated the group’s purpose, explaining: “Picking up trash is unpleasant for most people, but their performance makes it look so fun.”

Chris Agee
Chris Agee May 25th, 2023
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