Cleaning public toilets marks the path to spiritual enlightenment — or at least that’s the mantra of Benjyo Soujer, a new social club in Japan.
The 35-member group gathers every Sunday morning at 6 a.m. to visit, mop, and rinse the urinals and toilets of Tokyo, including the facilities’ walls and floors. Each bathroom takes about an hour-and-a-half to complete.
The participants think of themselves as lavatory combatants, given the club’s name — Benjyo Soujer — is a combination of the Japanese word for ‘lavatory’ and the English word for ‘soldier.’
It’s uncertain if this transcendence-meets-public-health project will be able to tackle all of Tokyo’s public bathrooms, which are believed to number in the thousands, but for Masayuki Magome, a 45-year-old architect who founded Benjyo Soujer on Facebook, that’s not really the goal.
Magome claims that adults enjoy the activity because it offers a spiritual cleansing that rivals the training that many Buddhist monks undergo to find inner peace. The idea is to be as hands-on as possible. Each member begins the day by mixing their own cocktail of chemical cleaners, and some prefer to work without gloves.
"We do not think of this as volunteer work," computer programmer and group member Satoshi Oda told the Associated Press. "We get together and do this for our own good. Or at least, I used to. Now, I come mostly because it's a lot of fun."