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The BBC in October published a glowing encomium to Japanese cleanliness. “How,” it asks, “does Japan stay so clean?”

It’s deeply ingrained, the report explains. Shinto purifies the body, Buddhism cleanses the mind, the tea ceremony sweeps the last speck of dust from the rustic tea hut. Heir to all this is the modern classroom, which children end every school day by cleaning, to the bemused admiration of non-Japanese worldwide.

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