What’s behind Japan’s curious love of cleanliness?

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It’s been dubbed the seven-minute miracle: teams of high-speed cleaners, with wide smiles and plastic flowers clipped to their hats, leap on board Japanese bullet trains and carry out a meticulous cleaning routine, before the next batch of passengers come on board.

The spectacle, which unfolds with near-mundane regularity every day on train platforms, is not only fascinating to witness (it’s choreographed to the second) – it also offers a glimmer of insight into the nation’s deep-rooted respect for all things clean.

Tokyo has long been famed as a super-sized megalopolis that stubbornly defies its sprawling dimensions and population density by being not only safe and punctual – but also astonishingly…

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