PETALING JAYA: The Japanese word kirei can be defined as pretty, clean, beautiful, pure and orderly.
The term is often used by experts to explain the high civic mentality among the Japanese.
“Kirei guides many Japanese in their everyday life and chores. Cleanliness is very important to them, ” said marketing executive Calyn Ong who was always impressed by how sparkling clean Japan’s public toilets are, which is an indication of their high civic consciousness.
“It is always dry, smells good and looks clean. The Japanese really know how to take care of their public space, ” said the avid traveller.
The Japanese are also known for their 100% return rate on their umbrella sharing facility, and for clearing food items with the earliest use by date in supermarkets.
Analyst Julian Theseira also had similar positive experiences with public toilets when he was studying in Switzerland.
“The Swiss are very civic conscious people. It has to do with their culture and strong traditions of local governance, ” he said.
Public toilets in Japan and Switzerland – as well as other countries like Scandinavia and Germany – are often commended for their cleanliness.
Apple Vacations founder Datuk Eh Leesan said toilets offer some insight as to how “refined” the locals are.
“I believe that the quality of a public toilet is equal to the living standards of a country, ” he said.
Eh recently wrote a column for StarLifestyle where he compared the public toilets abroad to the ones back home.
“Having travelled far and wide,
I believe that Japanese public toilets are the best. The etiquette of the Japanese people is the main reason for this cleanliness, ” he said.
Quality Restroom Association Malaysia (QRAM) chairman Hasan Hamzah said toilets are a good indication of a nation’s civic consciousness.
“You can tell a lot about a person by looking at the condition of the toilet and kitchen in their homes.
“We need to inculcate the importance of cleanliness from young. Children need to be trained to take good care of toilets, ” he said.