The Gomi Hiroi Samurai – “trash collecting samurai” – are members of a street performance group who walk the streets of Japan collecting trash with their katanas and trusty garbage grabbers.
These modern-day samurai are part of “Issei Ichidai Jidaigumi”, a performance group that originated in Kyoto but has since opened branches in other Japanese cities as well. They sport a very similar look to the samurai of old, but often spice up their appearance with stylish hats, and modern footwear. They are known for performing samurai-inspired songs, dances, and sword shows at various public events, but in the last few years, the Tokyo branch of the Jidaigumi has been making national news headlines for their theatrical trash-cleaning endeavours. They basically turn collecting street garbage into a performance worth buying tickets to.
As you can see in the videos below, the Gomi Hiroi Samurai strike impressive poses whenever they locate and dispose of a piece of trash, while at the same time shouting menacing phrases like “Who has done this?” or “Punish those with no morals!”. They’re completely harmless, in fact one of their mottos is “hate the crime, not the person who has committed it”, but the over-dramatization is a huge part of their performance.
Even in a generally clean country like Japan,littering is a big problem, especially during popular festivals, so the trash-collecting samurai take it upon themselves to rid the streets of trash and entertain people at the same time. They scour the streets dressed in period clothes and wielding katanas and garbage tongs, with traditional garbage baskets strapped to their backs. And when they spot a piece of trash, they yell things like “who goes there” and adopt a battle stance. Spoiler alert – they always win their duels.
As you can imagine, the Issei Ichidai Jidaigumi samurai are a big hit with passers-by, many of which stop to take photos of them and record their theatrical battles against street trash.
So if you’re ever in Tokyo and happen to see a group of cool looking samurai wielding garbage picking tools and yelling threats, don’t run for your life. Just site back and enjoy the show, it’s not something you get to see every day.