Many people probably aren’t aware of Mr. Hidesaburo Kagiyama.  Some people in Japan may know him as the President of Yellow Hat, an auto supply and parts retail chain in the country.  People outside of Japan may have heard of him for another reason as a founder of the now international Learning by Cleaning Association, and if you couldn’t tell by the name, this guy loves cleaning.

The 79 year-old says his passion for cleaning began as a young child in post-war Japan, where his family insisted on keeping a spotless home even though it was little more than a “tattered hut.”  After establishing his retail company he continued to apply his cleaning ethos to the office.  From there it spread to his employees and then to other companies in Japan.  He has now written several books linking a clean environment with a clean spirit.

This all sounds good but what some people might find disagreeable is exactly how much he loves cleaning.  For example, Mr. Kagiyama refuses to wear gloves while cleaning the toilet because bare hands “will never miss a hair.”  That conjures up mental images sure to turn more than a few stomachs.

My first encounter with Mr. Kagiyama was from a poster that was hanging on an office building’s men’s room wall in an effort to encourage users not to make a mess.   It was an odd reprise from the typical “don’t pee on the floor” signs one might see in its place. The following is a translation of that poster which was taken from one of his books about cleaning:

Why Clean Toilets?

1)    To Become a Modest Person
No matter how talented you are, if you’re not modest about it then you’ll turn people off.  Being modest is the biggest thing that distinguishes us as humans.  Of course the fastest way to make anyone modest is to clean a toilet.

2)    To Become Discerning
In life, the difference between winners and losers are people is losers are wasteful and winners are not. To eliminate wastefulness from your life becoming a discerning person is important. If you succeed at becoming a discerning person then you will be able to avoid wastefulness.
Cleaning toilets brings out our discernment in the best way.

3)    To Develop Passion in Your Life
Life is passion.  Everyone wants to live life in a way that moves people.  To do this you must use every fiber of your being to become an active person. We are motivated by people who humbly work their fingers to their bones using their legs, arms, and body no matter what you do.  The bathroom is like a dojo to train our bodies in this way.

4)    To Develop a Sense of Appreciation
Happy people often don’t take the time to appreciate things. From appreciation you can become happier.  Cleaning toilets certainly lets you appreciate the smaller things in life and makes you into a well-rounded person.

5)    To Polish Your Heart
You cannot take out your heart and polish it, but you can with the things you present to your eyes.  Especially as you clean your toilet, your heart begins to shine with it.  If people always see beautiful things then their hearts will become more beautiful.

The sentiment of this is undoubtedly positive and I would like to agree with him on it. But I don’t know, it just doesn’t make me want to climb elbow deep into a dirty toilet without gloves like he does. However, maybe that’s my personality flaw, and like he says, perhaps if I can get over that and climb into a urinal I’ll learn a deeper sense of appreciation for life.   I seems like you could rewrite that replacing “cleaning toilets” with countless other things like “bake a cake” or even “rob a bank” and it still makes sense.

So RocketNews24 would like to challenge you, the reader, to embark on Mr. Kagiyama’s path to spiritual improvement and clean a filthy toilet with your bare hands until it and your inner self are glowing like sparkling clean porcelain then report back to us – cause ain’t none of us gonna try it!

For more information about Hidesaburo Kagiyama and his works here are some of the scant English articles available: It’s Just Toilet Cleaning, but It’s More Than Just Cleaning Toilets (PDF), Polished Toilets, Polished Minds.