Why do the Japanese always clean? Cleanliness in Japan

  • Japan has been obsessed with cleanliness for centuries. The early European and Chinese travellers have mentioned it in their historical documents hundreds of years ago. The Japanese give a lot of importance to cleaning oneself and the surroundings.

    If you are in Japan, you must have already noticed how people subconsciously care about cleanliness. The well-organized waste collection system, serving of hot towels in restaurants, Public Onsens, surgical masks, anti-bacterial products in supermarkets and so on, show how cleanliness has long imbibed in their culture. Have you ever wondered why Japanese give a lot of importance to cleanliness?

    History and Learning

    There is something to do with history. Japan has had a past history of epidemics and health issues. In the post world war decades, Japan has faced various kinds of parasitical infections, food poisonings and etc. Not to mention the nuclear radiation some places suffered. Also, the region’s humid climate together with frequent natural calamities has made people self-aware and developed the need to keep their environment clean. Moreover, usually in Japanese schools, there would not be any janitors. Instead, school students are encouraged and taught to do cleaning by themselves.


    One of the major religions in Japan until now is Shinto. It is said that the Shinto gods hate filth. Ritual Purification can be seen in Shinto shrines. One needs to wash their hands before entering a shrine. There would be some water outlets in front of shrines to wash hands. It is said that ‘Kami (spirit or god) exists in everybody and one needs to keep clean while praying. Even the other major religions of Japan such as Buddhism teach importance of cleanliness for having a peaceful mind.