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Why the Japanese are obsessed with tidying up

During the 2022 world cup, social media was abuzz with the actions of the Japanese who were in attendance.

Japanese cleaning

There were photos and videos of Japanese people cleaning up the stadium after a game. There were also photos of how tidy the players left their locker rooms after each match. This raised the question among many, why are the Japanese so obsessed with tidying up? Well, here is a look at why this is so.

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The tidying up culture of the Japanese can be traced back to hundreds of years ago when cleaning was done at the end of the year and it was seen as a ritual intended to sweep away a year’s worth of ill fortune and evil spirits in anticipation of a fresh new start.

During this time, cleaning as a spiritual event was also adopted by Buddhist temples and Shinto. Daily tasks like cleaning and cooking were considered spiritual exercises, just as other practices like meditating.

And soon enough, cleaning was seen as an offering to the god of the new year - toshigami. It didn't take long before some people started believing that misfortunes can befall persons who fail to clean their lavatories.

Over the years, cleanliness grew to become part of the indigenous religion of Japan which is Shinto. Shintoism teaches that to be clean is to be pure, and so the Japanese follow this to the latter.

Today, tidying up is seen as a virtue by the Japanese. This culture is imbibed from a very young age as kids are taught to clean up their classrooms and school facilities on a regular basis.

For a lot of Japanese who grew up in this manner they believe that when you leave a place, you don’t leave it a mess, but leave it at least as clean as the condition you found it in.

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