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Posted: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013

Clean a public toilet with your bare hands, cleanse your soul

Cleaning public toilets is considered a social activity by some good Sasmaritans in Japan. A group that was started through Facebook meets once a week to disinfect, scrub and bond in the bathroom.

The group, called Benjyo Soujer, has 35 members who get together every Sunday morning, no matter the weather, to sanitize public toilets around Tokyo, disinfecting urinals and sinks. The group's name is a combination of the Japanese word for "lavatory" and a combination of the Japanese word for "cleaner" and the English word for "soldier."

"We do not think of this as volunteer work," participant Satoshi Oda says. "We get together and do this for our own good."

Group members say the cleaning ritual is a way to bond as a community and cleanse the soul at the same time. Along those lines, and this may not make sense to everybody, members are encouraged to clean the toilets with their bare hands.

Benjyo Soujer's leader, Masayuki Magome, says the practice of cleaning with bare hands is similar to a practice by Buddhist monks seeking "peace of heart."

It takes the group about an hour and a half to finish, and then they are on to another public restroom the following weekend.

AP contributed to this report.