In college, I could go five weeks without doing laundry and I could do it without having to wear dirty underwear.
One day, my aunt Connie so lovingly and truthfully remarked that I “have more lingerie than Vicky Secret!” — a statement I don’t dispute.
When I was running low on clothes and underwear at university, I accepted the fact that it was time for Laundry Weekend. I was forced to cancel all social appointments and do exactly what it sounds like: spending Saturday and Sunday, all day, doing laundry.
A lot of things have changed since then. Although the amount of lingerie I own has only increased, the number of times I do laundry every week now surpasses the number of times I previously did it every month. These changes are the result of two things:
1) I now have a husband who doesn’t own five week’s worth of clean underwear.
2) I no longer have an American-sized washing machine and I’d have to sell multiple, vital organs if I wanted to get my hands on a dryer.
If I could read the Japanese characters on the washing machine, I might be able to tell you the exact difference in quantity of water it holds vs an American machine. But since I can’t… I’ll show you.
For scale purposes, this is the number of items I can fit in the machine when settings are on the largest load possible:
1 pair of shorts
2 pairs of socks
2.5 panties (one of those doesn’t count as a full piece…)
1 pair pj shorts
I’ll say it again: this is the maximum that it will clean on its largest load setting. As you can see, it barely covers a day’s worth of clothes for a couple. I have to make the daily decision to either wash a pair of pjs or pants, or would I rather wash a camisole or leggings? God forbid Gabe and I go through more than one pair of socks in a day…
So why don’t I do consecutive loads to make up for the smaller machine? Besides the hassle of waiting 40 minutes for a sock to wash, I have limited space to dry the items once they’re clean. Gone are the days when I can toss them in a dryer, fold them, then toss another load in to dry immediately after. Observe, below, what happened to my office when I washed one sheet and one towel:
Yes, I can only fit one sheet and one towel in the washing machine at a time, and that’s pushing it.
It’s really not all that bad. At least I don’t have to wash the clothes by hand in a metal bin, right? Coming here, I anticipated the appliances being different. I had no delusions that they would be similar to those at home. But I also didn’t have any expectations of what I thought they would like like either. They’re interesting to say the least, and I thought I would highlight a few of my favorites.
In Japan, the toilet room is separate from the bathroom. Sometimes in the States, master suites have the toilet closed off from the rest of the bathroom. That’s not what I mean by separate in Japan. Here, the toilet room is literally on one side of our apartment by itself. When you walk in, it is immediately to your right and not much larger than a closet.
Gabe got full say in the decorations that went into the toilet room… including a John Green poster from Crash Course videos. I promise no one will ever get bored while hanging out in the john at our place.
The toilet has a sink that sits on top of its water chamber. When you flush, fresh, clean water comes up through the faucet for you to clean your hands with. The water then fills the back of the toilet and is used to fill the toilet bowl next time you flush. If you want to do a lighter flush, you push the toilet handle away from yourself. For a heavier flush, you pull it towards yourself. Talk about sustainable design, eh?
Our kitchen sink has two faucets. The cold water faucet looks like a typical faucet back in the States. Attached to the wall is this contraption thing that I have no name for.
Let’s just say I’ve never seen something like it before. Everything in our apartment runs on gas, so in order to get hot water to wash the dishes, you must turn the gas on first. Next, you turn the dial to the temperature you want it to be on.
I’m not sure what the symbols mean (they don’t appear to be Japanese, just little pictures). I just know that when the dial is on 1, it’s the right temperature for dishes. When the dial is on 3, it’s almost boiling and I can pour it straight into my french press for a scalding cup of fresh coffee. I quickly learned not to mix those numbers up.
We were told that is its official name. May I introduce to you ‘Mo,’ the Microwave Oven Combo 1955.
I’m not sure what year this thing actually came out, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we were the same age.
There are multiple switches and buttons, some of which were fortunately labeled in english by its previous owners. A dial controls whether you are on microwave mode or oven mode and a range of numbers (one through five) adjusts the temperature of the appliance. It does well at heating food, although the first time I tried to pop a bag of popcorn, it took over 10 minutes and I was left with a bowl half-full of popcorn kernels.
I haven’t gotten adventurous enough to bake anything in it. I tend to prefer my ancient, two-eyed gas range. That, along with our toaster oven, tends to work well for most meals.
This bad boy can cook up to 12 cups of UNCOOKED rice. It’s also the most modern and shiny appliance we own. I’m not sure what magic goes on when the lid is down and it’s steaming away, but it makes me feel like a champ in the kitchen when it’s done.
Some recent meals my rice cooker so kindly helped me create:
The Shower Situation
Oh the shower. When we first learned we were moving to Sapporo, the previous tenant made a video of our apartment to show us what it was like. When he shot the shower room, he told us that we’d want to have someone explain how it worked before we took one. I started getting nervous.
It’s a gas shower and intimidating at first glance. The first few times I used it, I thought it was going to explode in my face. Gabe told me he hoped it didn’t while I got the “be less dramatic” look.
Like the kitchen sink, first you must turn the gas on. Next, you push down one knob while simultaneously cranking a handle on the main unit. It produces an awful clicking sound. The clicking sound is starting an actual fire with the gas inside of the unit (hence why I worried about an explosion).
There is a tiny window on the unit. As you crank, you look through the window until you can see a flame inside. Once the flame is going, you can stop cranking. You then turn the knob (that you’ve been holding down this entire time) to the next setting. I would tell you what that setting was if I could read it.
Now, you are ready to turn the water on. You can release your grip on the knob and push down another large handle, located below the fire cranker. This moves the water through the pipes.
Worked up a sweat yet? Good! You’re almost ready to bathe. Just one step left. You have to make the decision: should I shower? Or should I take a bath? Once you’ve decided your preference, you flip a lever to the option you want.
Warm water should officially be steaming up the room. A separate dial on the heating unit controls the temperature you wish to set the water to.
The last thing you have to do is jump in the blue box. But before you do, would you mind tossing your underwear outside the shower room? I’m about to do laundry and I’ve only got 4 articles of clothing in the wash and I need one last piece to make it a heaping full load.
*NOTE: ALL PHOTOS OF APPLIANCES RECEIVED AN ANTIQUE MAKE OVER, PRIOR TO POST, TO REINFORCE THEIR PREHISTORIC AGES. Although the appliances are out of date compared to the States, our apartment doesn’t really look like it belongs in the 1960′s. It just functions like it is.