Posts Tagged laundry

August 8, 2006 – Typhoons are not helpful for drying clothes

Today a typhoon passed by Numazu. We weren’t directly in the path, but we did get some sideways rain. There isn’t an umbrella in the world big enough to keep you dry when it’s raining sideways.

The weather one, not the wrestling one

Typhoons are also not friendly to laundry. Clothes dryers are not common in most parts of Japan; most people hang their clothes outside to dry after washing. In my company apartment, my roommates and I hang our clothes to dry on our apartment balcony. Since the balcony is covered, we never rush to bring in clothes when it starts raining. Unfortunately a covered balcony doesn’t help much when the wind picks up and switches the rain from vertical to horizontal.

Today’s typhoon ended up soaking all of the clothes we had out for drying, but at least nothing blew away like some of the less fortunate people in the neighbourhood. Trying to find your wet, muddy clothes on the street after a typhoon passes is no fun.

Remember friends – bring your clothes inside when the weather gets nasty!


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Life in Japan – Laundry


When people think about moving to another country, they usually get excited about the big things – exploring, learning the language, trying the food. When you arrive, you realize that there are other things that need attention as well. Not many people consider small everyday tasks that they will be experiencing, like doing laundry.

What I was used to:

In Canada I either lived with my parents or in an apartment. My parents, like most Canadians, own a washer and dryer. Most washing is done with warm or hot water, and clothes are either hung up to dry or put into the dryer. Due to the long cold winters, it’s not common to hang up clothes outside for large parts of the year. An indoor drying rack is a must have.

All of the apartment buildings I lived in had laundry rooms with coin operated machines. Most apartment laundry rooms close at a certain hour to avoid noise for nearby apartments. This, and the fact that you were using the same machines as everyone else in the building, meant some planning ahead was necessary.

Washing clothes in Japan:

Both of the places I lived in Japan had free laundry machines, however they only used cold water for washing. Cold water works fine for most items of clothing, but I found that tough stains don’t go away as easily. For the first time ever, I had stains on the collars of my work shirts that wouldn’t go away. This required occasional visits to a dry cleaner.

Finding a good dry cleaner is important. When I lived in Kawasaki, there was a cleaner between Hello House and Noborito station that all of the English teachers used. The staff was very polite despite the general lack of Japanese language skills of the teaching community. They did a fantastic job – the crease they put on my pants was so sharp I probably could have cut bread with it. They also kept a list of the local teachers’ names in English and katakana (Japanese script for foreign words) to help with pronunciation. I wish I had remembered the name of the cleaner so I could give them some free advertising!

Don’t forget drying:

Drying clothes is almost always done by hanging them up outside. One of the most useful things a person can own is what I like to call a clothes octopus. It is a plastic hanger that clips on to your clothesline and has a number of small vertically hanging clips on the bottom. They are very useful for hang drying anything that you can’t put on a hanger.

I was not used to hanging my clothes to dry, so it felt a bit strange displaying all of my laundry on the balcony for everybody to see. It’s not like I had anything particularly embarrassing, it was just unusual to display my wardrobe to the public. However, the more time I spent in Japan, the less self conscious I felt about it.

Folding it up:


If you are in another country for a short time, you remember the big exciting things that you get to see and do. Spending a longer time in another country provides a great opportunity to appreciate some of the mundane, everyday things as well. I would have never imagined when I moved to Japan that I would end up being able to write 500 words about washing my clothes, or that someone might actually want to read it! However, a quick Google search shows that this is a common concern. Check out some of these other (likely better) articles on the subject:

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September 21, 2004 – Washable technology

Looking south from a pedestrian bridge near Mukogaokayuen station

Looking south from a pedestrian bridge near Mukogaokayuen station

Today I did some laundry, and to my horror I found that I had left my USB memory stick in the pockets of my pants. After a trip through the washing machine it still worked perfectly. Probably not recommended.

I still haven’t gotten used to cold water wash for laundry. In most parts of Canada, washing machines use warm or hot water to wash clothes. Cold water wash seems to get the clothes clean, but it’s harder to get stains out. There is a great dry cleaning place near Noborito station that I take my work clothes to occasionally. They not only get out any stains that the cold water wash misses, but they also press and fold my shirts afterwards. Most of the teachers in the area use this laundry, so they have compiled a big list of all of the foreigner names so they don’t have to ask people with limited Japanese skills the same questions every time (address, phone number, etc). Not every business takes the extra steps to make their business foreigner friendly, so if you find one please tell everybody and make sure to give them your business.

After laundry I worked on updating my blog and got a few new pictures added.

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