21 August 2019
Mangetsu-man and some volunteers keep the streets of Tokyo clean. Photo: Reuters
Mangetsu-man and some volunteers keep the streets of Tokyo clean. Photo: Reuters

Keeping Tokyo streets clean, one sweep at a time

Most superheroes fight crime but for one such Japanese hero, the enemy is garbage.

He employs no fanciful or high-tech weapons but just a broom and a dust pan.

And an army of volunteers who share his vision and mission helps.

Meet Mangetsu-man, which means Mr Full Moon in English.

He first appeared on the streets of Tokyo last year without any publicity or fanfare. And he has been regulary cleaning around Tokyo’s Nihonbashi business district ever since.

Dressed in purple skin tights and a red and purple cape, he also dons a big yellow sphere over his head meant to represent the full moon.

Mangetsu-man has kept his identity a secret to all so far and refuses to speak on camera in case someone recognises his voice.

Instead he speaks through a smartphone’s automatic dictation software. So through this contraption he was able to explain his mission: 

“Cleaning isn’t just about making something dirty clean. It’s about staying clean. So it’s about keeping one’s heart clean as well,” he told Reuters through the computer generated voice of his smartphone.

“So if more people around the world clean up then I believe that there will be less negative news. I want to clean up all the negativity in the world through the power of cleaning. 

“I do this personally and not as part of a larger group. When I saw the first full moon in 2013 I heard this voice from above that said ‘mangetsu-man’ and that’s when I got my duty to help bring peace to the world,” he said.

Thanks to his persistence and regular presence on the streets, he no longer works alone. A throng of volunteers regularly turn up to help him whenever he is around.

However, even with his army of helpers, Mangetsu-man still has his work cut out for him. Like the villains of superhero novels, trash is never completely defeated.

Mangetsu-man says he will continue to keep the streets of Tokyo clean, one sweep at a time.

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