DOHA, Qatar (AP) – The view of Japanese fans on a World Cup the trash packing after a match – win or lose – always surprises the non-Japanese. Japanese players are famous for doing the same in their team’s locker room, hanging up towels, mopping the floor, and even leaving thank-you notes.
This behavior is causing social media posts at the World Cup in Qatar, but it is nothing unusual for Japanese fans and players. They are simply doing what most people in Japan do – at home, at school, at work or on the streets from Tokyo to Osaka, from Shizuoka to Sapporo.
“It’s normal for the Japanese,” Japan coach Hajime Mariyasu said. “When you leave, you should leave the place cleaner than it was before. This is the kind of education we were taught. This is our basic culture. It’s nothing special for us.”
A spokeswoman for the Japan Football Association said it was supplying 8,000 garbage bags to help fans pick up after matches with “thank you” messages on the outside written in Arabic, Japanese and English.
Barbara Holtus, a sociologist who has spent the past decade in Japan, said cleaning up after oneself is ingrained in Japanese culture.
“In Japan, you always have to take your trash home because there are no trash cans on the street,” said Holthus, deputy director of the German Institute of Japanese Studies. – You clean your classroom. From an early age. you will learn that you are responsible for the cleanliness of your space.’
Many Japanese elementary schools do not have janitors, so some of the cleaning work falls on the younger students. Office workers often devote an hour to beautify their places.
“It’s partly cultural, but also educational structures have been teaching you this for a long time,” Holtus added.
This is Japan’s seventh straight World Cup and their clean sheet made news at their first World Cup in 1998 in France.
Ahead of the 2020 Olympics, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has warned that visiting fans will have to learn to clean up after themselves. However, the issue never arose after overseas fans were banned from attending the Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are few public garbage containers in Tokyo. It makes streets cleaner, saves municipalities the cost of emptying garbage cans, and keeps pests away.
Midori Mayama, a Japanese reporter in Qatar for the World Cup, said fans picking up trash was not a story at home.
“Nobody in Japan is going to report this,” she said, noting that the same kind of cleanup happens at Japanese professional baseball games. “It’s all so normal.”
It might be normal for the Japanese, but Alberto Zaccheroni, an Italian who coached Japan’s national team from 2010 to 2014, said most teams don’t behave this way when they travel.
“Everywhere in the world, players take off their jerseys and leave them on the floor in the locker room. Then the cleaners come and take it away,” he said. “Not Japanese players. They put all the shorts on top of each other, all the pairs of socks and all the shirts.’