KYOTO -- Five trash-collecting "samurai" took to the streets here on July 12 to battle littering for the city's famous Kyoto Gion Festival.
The "Gomi Hiroi Samurai" (trash-collecting samurai) are members of "Jidaigumi Basara," the Tokyo-based branch of the street performance group "Issei Ichidai Jidaigumi" ("Let's go for broke once in a lifetime" period performance group) that bases their singing and dancing performances on traditional theatrical combat -- and cleaning up trash.
At the departing ceremony for the litter-fighting procession at Shimogyo Police Station, trash-collecting samurai representative and Tokyo resident Yusuke Matsumoto, 22, submitted a samurai "letter of challenge" detailing their intentions to battle litter to Shimogyo Police Station chief Tsuyoshi Sakane.
As visitors to the traditional festival carelessly throwing out trash have become a problem for the city, Matsumoto declared, "We will mercilessly punish those with no morals! Prepare yourselves!"
The five samurai then traveled around the event dressed in period clothes, armed with garbage tongs in place of swords and trash baskets strapped to their backs. While dramatically yelling "Who has done this?" and "Punish those with no morals!" and other phrases, the group battled fallen trash on the streets of Kyoto to the applause of passersby.
"Hate the crime, not the person who has committed it," said Matsumoto. "That is the philosophy that drives our activities."