2021 Olympics: in Tokyo, the "waste samurai" clean in style

In their black and blue kimonos, Keisuke and Yushi roam the neighborhoods of Tokyo. In a flash, they grab a butt or a can with their pincers, in movements worthy of katana fighting. They are the “Jidai gumi”, the samurai of garbage cleaning.

Tokyo is said to be one of the cleanest cities in the world. Japanese citizenship is often praised. But in the early morning, some night quarters are the cemetery of bottles of alcohol or cigarettes that have not been buried. Shinjuku and Ikebukuro bring together revelers or their salary men who do not come home at night, with their restaurants, their nightclubs, their girly bars … With a few Asahi in the throat, civic-mindedness inevitably takes a hit. This is where the “Jidai Gumi” come in.

Blue and black kimonos, Japanese pride in their hearts, and handling of the 10th dan sensei level mender’s pliers, Keisuke and Yushi collect the waste of the night. “We both live in Ikebukuro. We want it to be a clean place here. In Tokyo, there are bar districts like here, where people drink a lot and so people leave their cans, their cigarettes, their bottles lying around. , we collect this waste and sort it, ”says Yushi, black kimono and hat on his head. “What is there” he says in the heart with a strong accent.

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A cigarette butt, a can are lying around: in a flash, they take out their pliers, the metal rod becomes a katana, they grab their tiny target and put it in Yushi’s trash backpack. Three hours of training per day to achieve these choreographed performances on the line. Synchronism, precision, and the bag fills up quickly under the unlit neon lights of Ikebukuro’s night bar street.

Over 300,000 subscribers on TikTok

Created in 2007, the samurai team has exploded in notoriety with social networks. Their performances are broadcast live on TikTok. More than 300,000 subscribers on this network for the friendly street fencers. The first time, it surprises, these great movements. The uninformed passer-by may believe in a saber attack. “At the beginning, during one of our collection performances, a policeman told us to stop,” recalls Yushi. But at the same time, there were people who said that we were important to collect the trash. . We were happy. We are continuing our work to make Japan clean. “

Behind the simple cleaning, there is the pride of recalling a Japan of the past, kimono, saber and dated expressions, when they have finished ridding a corner of its dirt. Yushi and Keisuke find that wearing a kimono is gradually disappearing. They recall the Japan of Epinal, films, images. They would be well transposed in a few corners of Paris in an 18th century outfit, foil at the waist. Their task has not diminished despite the state of health emergency, which is closing restaurants earlier and limiting alcohol sales. The patrols are far from over.

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