Japan tidying up: why do nation’s football fans clean stadium and team clean dressing room at World Cup 2022?

Japan are aiming to reach the quarter-final for the first time in their history

The Japan national team is currently one of the feel-good stories of the World Cup in Qatar.

Japan secured their place in the knockout stages and prevailed from a group of death featuring European heavyweights Spain and Germany. But it is not just their heroics on the pitch that are attracting the attention of the footballing world and a number of videos have gone viral on social media of Japan’s players and fans tidying up after their World Cup matches.

The official FIFA Twitter page shared two photos after Japan’s opener against Germany. One of which showed the players dressing room - after the game the Japan footballers stayed behind to sweep the floors and sort litter into neat piles. The players even left Origami swans and a thank you note in Japanese and Arabic as a gesture of goodwill.

Meanwhile the fans also left a very positive impression after the game and were seen picking up litter in the stands of the stadium after celebrating their famous victory. Neither gesture is anything new to the Japanese and they have continued to clean up after each of their World Cup games over the course of the tournament. A small group of fans even stayed behind during the opening game of the tournament between Qatar and Ecuador to help clean the stands.

But why do the Japanese players and fans clean up after the games?

Here is everything you need to know.

Why do Japan tidy after games?

Cleanliness has become synonymous with the Japan national team and it has been a long running tradition of fans and players alike.

The tradition was first noticed on the world stage when Japan co-hosted the World Cup with South Korea in 2002. It has been continued in all five World Cup tournaments since then.

The reason for their cleanliness is fairly straightforward. In Japan they strive to be the perfect guests and the people are encouraged to be polite to those of different cultures and backgrounds.

Speaking after the game a number of Japanese fans spoke about their reasons for tidying up after games and many used the word ‘atarimae’ which translates to stating the obvious. One Japanese football fan said after the opener against Germany: “What we’re taught is that leaving things cleaner than the way you found it is atarimae. And that we should always express gratitude.”

Are Japan still in the World Cup?

Japan have been the dark horses of the Qatar World Cup and advanced from a group of death consisting of Spain, Germany and Costa Rica.

Japan began their Qatar campaign by claiming a shock 2-1 victory against four-time champions Germany. Japan then fell to a shock 1-0 defeat against Costa Rica despite dominating the game.

The Samurai Blue needed to better Germany’s result in their last group game to advance to the knockout stages and faced European giants Spain. Japan went a goal down in the first half but fought back to claim a surprise 2-1 victory over Spain.

The result secured Japan top spot in the group and they advanced to the round of 16 alongside Spain. It is just the second time since 1938 that Germany have failed to make it out of the group stage.

Japan will face 2018 finalists Croatia in the round of 16 and will be aiming to claim a third victory over European opposition. Japan are aiming to reach the quarter-final of the World Cup for the first time in their history.