Photo: Maykova Galina/Shutterstock

Japanese World Cup Fans Warm Hearts Worldwide Cleaning Up the Stands After Matches

Culture Outdoor Japan
Photo: Maykova Galina/Shutterstock
Olivia Harden
Nov 28, 2022

If you’ve ever been to a live sporting event, you know what to expect while in the stands. The energy from the crowd can be electric while everyone eats, drinks, laughs, and cheers on their favorite team. On the way out, the stands rarely look like they did when they came in, and they’re often littered with food, wrappers, and other trash. Not if you’re playing the Japanese, though. While they’re sure to be ready to celebrate after winning a big game, it’s essential to show respect to other teams and leave places better than they found them. Videos of Japanese World Cup fans have recently gone viral on TikTok for cleaning up their side of the stands with trash bags.

@aljazeeraontiktok Why do Japanese football fans clean up after a match? @Sandra Gathmann asks the fans #QatarWorldCup2022 #FIFA #WorldCup #Qatar #Football #Qatar2022 #WorldCup2022 #Japan #cleaning #fans ♬ beat5 – trackmusika

The videos don’t show the thousands of fans that attended cleaning up in the stands, but the dozens of fans who do stay behind have had a positive impact on the country’s image abroad. The hired stadium clean-up team was quick to show their thanks to the Japanese for the gesture.

For the Japanese World Cup fans, cleaning up behind themselves and others is “atarimae” because cleanliness and collectivity are ingrained in society. The etiquette is known to inspire other fans to do the same. At the World Cup in 2018, Senegal fans also stayed behind to pick up their stands.

“We believe we can make this contagious,” Tomomi Kishikawa, a fan from Tokyo, told The New York Times. “We don’t need to push anyone to clean. But if we start, maybe we can be a good example of respect.”

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