December 19, 2019 / 7:29 AM / a month ago

You dirty rat: Zodiac window cleaners set Tokyo sparkling for New Year

Window cleaners, dressed as a rat and a wild boar, this year and next year's Chinese zodiac animals, pose to photographers before cleaning the windows of Ryumeikan hotel during a promotional event to celebrate the upcoming new year in Tokyo, Japan, December 19, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - Dangling more than 50 meters above a busy Tokyo street, window cleaners dressed up as a boar and a rat on Thursday scrubbed windows at a downtown hotel ahead of the country’s New Year festivities.

In its seventh year at the Hotel Ryumeikan Tokyo, the tradition echoes the custom of sprucing up the house at year-end, and comes as the international spotlight falls squarely on Japan as it prepares to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

With the Year of the Boar coming to a close, Tokyo stores are replete with Zodiac decorations featuring mouse motifs ahead of the Year of the Rat, traditionally a time for making wishes for the year ahead.

“Next year I hope to spend time with my family. It was a really busy year so I hope for a little calm next year,” said hotel employee Yuriko Sakaue, who gave birth to a daughter in May and was watching the costumed cleaners.

The event closes out a year in which Japan saw a new emperor ascend the throne and hosted the Rugby World Cup, which featured a break-out performance by the national team.

Reporting by Akira Tomoshige and Hideto Sakai; Writing by Sam Nussey; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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