The Professional: Garbage as a Calling

On the front lines with one of Japan's essential workers

Why is there so little garbage on the ground in the towns and cities of Japan? The answer lies in the dedication of garbage collectors like Take Yusuke. While the city of Yokohama sleeps at night, Take jumps in his garbage truck and embarks on a mission to collect every last bag. He even scoops up food waste from bags that have been torn open by crows. Not even the coronavirus deters him. When the city needed someone to collect garbage from a hospital that had a cluster of COVID-19 cases, Take volunteered. Take has endured scorn from people who saw him as a mere garbageman. But for him, keeping the city clean is a worthy calling. An NHK crew spent 150 days with Take to find out what it takes.