Garbage collectors in samurai costumes took to the streets of Tokyo on Wednesday, theatrically brandishing trash can grabbers and tossing trash left over from an evening of Halloween festivities into wicker baskets on their backs. Dressed in boldly patterned black and white hats and tunics, the group, known as “Gomihiroi Samurai,” or the trash-collecting samurai, has captivated fans since its inception in 2006, with nearly 800,000 followers on TikTok .
“If people are paying attention to our performance because they think it's funny, they might as well start paying attention to the waste problem itself,” says one of the group members, Keisuke Naka. , as he cleared the area under a large “No Littering” sign.
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If Japan is renowned abroad for its cleanliness, the reality is not so simple, believes Naka, a samurai garbage collector for seven years, in the middle of collecting empty beer cans, plastic bottles and cigarette butts of cigarettes thrown away in a neighborhood known for its nightlife. Nights like Halloween leave the streets in a sad state, as alcohol consumption has become common in busy areas and tourist spots, Naka points out.
However, the inhabitants of the region believe that the garbage collectors samurai make the difference today. Naruhito Miyasaka, a student who grew up and lives in the area where Naka collected trash, says the trash problem used to be so bad that people could see rats scampering among the trash at night. Junya Kakihara, a restaurant owner, said the operations made him pay more attention to the problem, adding: “I tell people not to throw away their trash when they are about to do so. .”