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Fans clean up stadium

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You don't have to be a football fan to appreciate Japanese fans behaviour after their team's 2-1 victory over Germany yesterday.

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Meanwhile enjoy a few photos. Japan is interesting and different. Cleanliness and order seem part of the national psyche; one sees no litter; a leaf out of place in a Japanese garden is soon removed; a grain of sand swept back into its proper place.

But how? Litter bins are few and far between (if you see any at all) and there are (apparently) no street cleaners/sweepers. The easy answer is that residents themselves keep it clean. During their school life, from elementary school to high school, cleaning time is part of students’ daily routine and, in home life as well, parents teach that it’s bad not to keep one's belongings and space clean.

“We don’t want others to think we are bad people who don’t have enough education or upbringing to clean things up.” A quote attributed to an assistant director of Hiroshima Prefectural Government’s Tokyo office.

And this is no new thing. In his biography of Will Adams, the first Englishman to set foot in Japan in 1600, Giles Milton notes that the nobility were scrupulously clean, enjoying ‘pristine sewers and latrines and steam baths of scented wood' at a time when the streets of England often overflowed with excrement. The Japanese, we are told, were appalled by the Europeans’ disregard for personal cleanliness.

It seems those values remain; the Japanese fans are a credit to their nation.

We have a lot to learn.

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