Laundry day.


This was a good laundry day in Tokyo… The sky is clear, the sun is bright and the wind is brisk. Before I came to live here in Tokyo, I never considered the weather when I needed to do laundry. I always had access to a clothes dryer. My mother had a clothes dryer… at least from the time I was a young child. I never had the experience of hanging clothes out to dry… until now.

Most Japanese — at least in this urban area where we live — hang their clothes out to dry. It is almost a universal practice from the looks of the balconies around where we live. In fact, one would assume that clothes drying is the only reason apartments have balconies. I never see anyone using their balcony for anything else except clothes drying. True enough this balcony we have is very narrow… one could hardly fit any patio furniture on it. And… so I am told… our balcony is too high up (30th floor), and the risk of high winds is too great to leave anything out on the balcony for very long. Laundry… ok. Anything else? Too dangerous.

My washer, as I have mentioned before, is a combination washer/dryer. It does have a drying function, but from frustrated experience, it is nearly worthless. It is a top load machine, and the drum does not tumble. I think it spends most of the drying time drying out the machine. The clothes all end up a damp, wrinkled, twisted mass at the bottom of the machine. The only practical use I have come up for it, is to soften clothes that have dried stiff on the balcony on a windless day. Yes… I have learned ( in 4 short months) the ins and outs of laundry in Japan, and the importance of having a nice breeze to help the clothes dry soft. Lol… this has been an unexpected learning experience.

It isn’t that clothes dryers don’t exist here. We actually did look at one apartment that had a clothes dryer. And… I would expect that many homes do have clothes dryers. Also… our apartment would have plenty of space for a stacked apartment-size washer and dryer. But, for some reason here in Japan, I think that having a clothes dryer is considered a frivolous use of electricity and resources. Who needs a clothes dryer when you have free use of the sun and wind outside, after all.

Convenience aside, I have found that I don’t really mind hanging the clothes out. On a day like today they have dried quickly. I can generally do a small load first thing in the morning, and everything is done and dry by noon. We will see how it goes during the coming “rainy season” — during June and July. I may not like it so much then.  I will have to hang my laundry in the bathroom under the room dryer. But for now… let the wind blow!

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My husband and I were both born and raised in Kansas, but for the past 20+ years we have been living in Atlanta, Georgia. Now, with our children grown and out of the house, we have the opportunity to spend two years living in Tokyo. My husband will be working with the Japanese counterpart to his American company.

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