High-school student volunteers who regularly clean train car interiors
2007winners contribution to society
On their own initiative, high-school students attending the same middle school pick up waste inside the train they ride home from school
High-school student volunteers who regularly clean train car interiors

<Attendees to ceremony were the 6 members who had started the activity.>
Ms. Shizuka Matsuda, Ms. Ayaka Hashimoto, Ms. Yuka Ichinomiya, Ms. Aya Shirasaka,
Ms. Azusa Higuchi, Ms. Mao Yoshida

Award summary

These student volunteers, all alumni of Shika Junior High School (Higashi-ku, Fukuoka City), board trains from Saitozaki Station, the terminus station of JR Kyushu Kashii Line, to go to 10 different high schools: Kashii High School, Kasumigaoka Senior High School, Kashii Tech High School, Kyushu High School, Fukuoka Kaisei High School, Umi Commercial High School, Shingu High School, Fukuoka Jyoto High School, Genkai High School, and Hakata Girls' High School.

After school, the students come home at different times, the early ones arriving at the station around 4 p.m. and those who stay late because of extracurricular activities coming back on trains after 10 p.m. When their train arrives at Saitozaki Station and all the passengers get off, these students always do the same thing. They walk through the 2-car train they have just taken, picking up the trash remaining in the cars. They do this every day during the 8 minutes or so the train is parked at the station before it leaves on its return journey.

Depending on the time of day, there may be only one student doing this, but usually there are two or three of them, and they spend about 3 minutes doing their work. These students even pick up the trash on weekends and holidays, when they happen to take the train on such days.

It all started with Shizuka Matsuda, now an 18-year old senior at Kashii High School, when she started picking up the trash during her freshman year. Her former Shika Junior High classmates promptly joined her, and they had a 6-person team. Younger students from their junior high school who saw them started joining them willingly, and the circle has now expanded to 60 or so students. Ms. Matsuda says she was prompted to start this activity one day when she went to the station as a junior high school student to walk her older sister home. Her sister, a high school student, was picking up the trash all by herself.

Last October, JR Kyushu sent a letter of appreciation to each of the high schools these students attend, saying the train operators and station employees were all extremely grateful, and the passengers were also very happy.

Reasons for this award

These high school students, all alumni of the same junior high school, have created a large circle totally voluntarily and very naturally. What is even more wonderful is that their actions are not so much about self-sacrifice but more about enjoying the activity with the sense that it is completely natural to clean up the trains they use. This award goes to this group partly to encourage our young people to continue with their efforts.

Comments from the winner

We are thrilled and amazed to receive this award.

Once I became a high school student, I began to want to commute to school in a clean train, probably partly influenced by my older sister. The circle got bigger and bigger, and now many of our Shika Junior High alumni pick up the trash. I learned that when you keep doing something, you can't stop. When you keep doing it, it becomes real. When you keep doing it, it spreads to others. (Shizuka Matsuda)