Jimmy Kimmel stunned by how much cleaner Japan is than US: ‘We are like hogs’

Jimmy Kimmel joked during a Monday night monologue that a recent, weeklong trip with his family to Japan convinced him America is “filthy and disgusting” by comparison.

“The bathrooms in Tokyo and Kyoto are cleaner than our operating rooms here,” Mr Kimmel said.

The late-night host lauded everything from Japan’s truckstops– “cleaner than Jennifer Garner’s teeth” – to the fact that there’s very little litter even though large Japanese cities have few public trash cans.

Jimmy Kimmel joked about how much dirtier America is than Japan in a segment on 1 April, 2024. (Jimmy Kimmel Live)
Jimmy Kimmel joked about how much dirtier America is than Japan in a segment on 1 April, 2024. (Jimmy Kimmel Live)

Bins were removed in many places following the 1995 sarin gas attacks, in which the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult put poisonous chemicals in rubbish bins on the Tokyo metro, killing 12 and injuring over 1,000 people.

“They’re like OK, no more trash cans,” Mr Kimmel continued, referencing the aftermath of the 1995 attacks. “Everybody clean up after themselves, and guess what? They clean up after themselves...It’s like the whole country is Disneyland and we’re living in Six Flags.”

All in all, the comedian and recent Oscars host said, “We are like hogs compared to the Japanese.”

A variety of factors help fuel Japan’s reputation for cleanliness.

In the immediate years after WWII, the rapidly industrialising island nation began running out of landfill space, especially around the mega-metropolis of Tokyo.

By the 1990s, strict waste management rules were in place, and as of 2017, the country recycled more than three-quarters of its plastic, almost twice Britain’s rate at the time, according to the World Economic Forum.

Cultural factors also play a part, with other observers citing Japan’s strong civic culture, and norms such as smokers carrying their own ashtrays and most people avoiding walking and eating at the same time, Bloomberg notes.

Tokyo’s toilets in particular are enjoying an unexpected moment in the spotlight, thanks to the success of 2023’s Oscar-nominated Perfect Days, a film from famed German filmmaker Wim Wenders about the daily life of a public toilet cleaner named Hirayama.

The Japanese capital’s commodes got an overhaul ahead of the planned 2020 Olympic Games, which were later postponed and held without spectators.

The city sports toilets were designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects like Tadao Ando, Shigeru Ban, and Kengo Kuma.

“If I say Japanese toilets are world number one, no one will disagree,” businessman Koji Yanai, a backer of the Tokyo Toilet project, told The New York Times, calling Japan’s toilet a display of national “pride.”