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News of the Weird: The Toilet Club
Beginning in 2011, about three dozen people in Tokyo have been meeting every Sunday morning at 6 a.m. on a mission to scrub down, one by one, the city's grungiest public rest rooms. “By 7:30,” according to an Associated Press reporter who witnessed an outing in August, the team had left behind a “gleaming public toilet, looking as good as the day it was installed.” Explained the hygiene-intense Satoshi Oda (during the week, a computer programmer), the mission is “for our own good” — work that leader Masayuki Magome compares to the training that Buddhist monks receive to find peace. (In fact, to fulfill the group's motto, “Clean thyself by cleaning cubicles,” the scouring must be done with bare hands.) A squad supporter spoke of a sad, growing apprehension that the younger generation no longer shares the Japanese cultural conviction that rest rooms should always be clean and safe.
By Chuck Shepherd
September 17, 2013