Japanese Cleanliness

Regardless of where you travel in Japan, the natives are well-groomed, neat, and fastidiously clean. This extends to streets, homes, office buildings, wherever; from garbage men with carefully sculpted hair, to the country’s meticulously spotless and efficient white-gloved taxi service. This Shinto-centered obsession with cleanliness is symbolized whenever entering any shrine. Before entering, one must perform “temizu”, a short cleansing ritual meant to prevent outside impurities from entering the shrine. We cannot overlook the country’s Yen currency (crisp, clean, and almost too beautiful to spend) and its meticulously clean bathroom culture (much impressed with Toto’s new all-spraying all-deodorizing, oscillating, heated NEOREST NX toilets at the Aman Tokyo)!

Japanese female students changing shoes at school
Japanese high school students in uniforms changing shoes at the entrance

From Early Education to Daily Work Life

Japan’s culture of cleanliness begins in early education and is taught through high school. The daily school schedule teaches the importance of keeping one’s things and space clean, neat, and organized. Upon arriving at school each day, students leave their outside shoes in lockers or shelves and change into trainers for the day. As the students advance to higher grade levels, the conception of their space extends to include their neighborhood, city, and country. In the work force, it is typical that around 8:00 a.m., office staff and retail shop elpoyees will clean the streets around their place of work and routinely monitor them throughout the day. It is also common that a Japanese person, who is sick with a cold or flu, will wear a surgical mask so as not to infect others with their illness.

Sporting Events, Musical Recitals & Public Spaces

Japan’s obsession with cleanliness extends to public events, like sports, concerts, and public transportation. Following each 2018 Football World Cup game held in Japan, the Japanese team fans would actually stay after to clean up garbage from around the stadium. Visitors to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics will experience this first hand! After concerts in Japan, fans apply the same practice. Smokers are encouraged to bring portable ashtrays and to refrain from smoking around others. Not surprisingly, Japan’s railway Shinkansen (bullet) transportation system is also immaculately clean. Between each ride from Tokyo station, the Tessei Cleaning Crew has seven minutes to clean each train, readying it for the next round of passengers, as demonstrated in the video above.

Woman counting Japanese Yen withdrawn from ATM, 24 hours service, easy banking
Counting Japanese Yen withdrawn from ATM

Crisp & Clean Yen Currency

We most enjoy using Japan’s many ATM machines. Your bank notes emerge so crisp and clean that they almost look starched! Though some Yen may still become soiled, shops, restaurants, hotels, and taxis will issue your change in a little tray, never hand-to-hand!