Today's Samurai picks gabage: making Tokyo's streets fun and cool, 670,000 followers on TikTok

2022.6.29 06:30

Mr. Goto (right) and Mr.Keisuke of "Gabage Picking Samurai" appears in Ikebukuro (all photos in Toshima Ward)

Empty cans, plastic bottles, cigarette butts-. A performance group "Gabage Picking Samurai" appears in Ikebukuro, a downtown area of Toshima Ward. Wearing not a sword but fire tongs on his waist, he wears a stylish kimono and works twice a week, mainly in the ward. The signature phrase is "Punishment for immorals !!".
The downtown area at the west side of Ikebukuro Station is full of restaurants and karaoke shops. Under the rainy season, Two samurais wearing a denim kimono, a hat and boots jauntily appeared. Ikki Goto age 55 carries a bamboo basket on his back. The dual wield is Keisuke age 31.
Looking around with a keen eye, they found cigarette butts scattered on the street and rushed quickly. They smoothly swing "fire tongs" like swords to
pick up trash and put it in a bamboo basket. "Punishment!" With a low voice and eyes closed. It's like watching a scene from a historical samurai drama. Passersby stoped and took photos with their smartphones.


Going further into the alley, samurais targeted a mask that clings to the ground, a toothpick that has entered the gap in the pavement. Picked up one, another "enemy" soon. Next to the vending machine, there is a plastic bottles overflowing from the trash can. Some remained liquid inside. The samurais managed the 75 cm long fire tongs, "Punishment" with a sharp move and pose.
"It's said that it's faster to pick it up normally," says Goto. "Still, I want each person to be aware of the environment by seeing us picking up trash in a fun and cool way," he continues the trash picking performance as entertainment.

Cigarette butts

Goto, the founder of "Gabage Picking Samurai", also appeared in a movie directed by Takeshi Kitano as an actor. "Young people create culture. I don't want to lose the street culture like pedestrian paradise in Harajuku." Goto had been thinking of that. Then, in Hokkaido the northern part of Japan, he saw people picking up trash in a snowstorm, looked like samurai. "This is it!" In 2007, the entertainment "Garbage Picking Samurai" was born, which incorporated elements of sword fighting into garbage picking.
Initially, they were mainly in Shibuya, but the number of people in the city has decreased due to the COVID-19. Both of them are Toshima residents, moved the "main battlefield" to the ward. "Let's clean the city where we live first."
The activity is distributed on SNS every time, and at most, more than 6,000 people in the world watch it. There are many overseas fans, and 670,000 followers on the video posting application "TikTok."


Through SNS etc., the circle spreads from Japan to the world, and "branches" and "garbage picking maidens" are born in various parts of the country. Hollywood actor "Samurai" is also active in Los Angeles, USA.
They usually improve skills for much better performance. "It looks like just swinging tongs, but I'm training to look good," says Keisuke.
The activity was approved by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan, and in March of this year, the "Toshima Clean City Promotion Ambassador" in Toshima Ward was also "appointed". Toshima hopes that this year, the 90th anniversary of the ward, they work together to enliven the environmental beautification activities of the city.
Currently working twice a week around Ikebukuro and Otsuka. Goto has an ambition to "make all humanbeing samurai who picks up trash." "It's okay if you pick up one a day or one a year of only stop throwing away. The consciousness changes after seeing their performance, and if the garbage is reduced, the earth will be clean."