Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Amanda wanted to know a little bit more about my laundry pole and a couple people have commented that the little differences in culture are more interesting to them than the larger ones. Unfortunately, it is the little differences that I don't even see anymore! I've lived so long in Japan that I think things are the same the world over and then someone mentions something or when I'm back in the States I notice that it isn't all the same. And of course we get into the cultural differences of what are the norms for a Southern California and a New Yorker. Oh well, here are some details about my laundry pole. (Big thrill!)

Most people in Japan use a pole of some sorts to hang their laundry rather than a rope or line. And by the way, most people hang out their laundry and don't have or don't use their dryers. People with any land at all will have laundry poles in the sunny parts of their yard, usually in the front right outside the front door. This makes it easy to carry washing from the washing machine, and is great in a sudden rain. People with a pole set up in the yard will have to have a brace of some sort to extend the pole across and these are all part of buying laundry poles. Most of the metal braces are already set in cement and have tiered brackets to hold two or three poles going out in different directions for catching the maximum amount of sun.

Please imagine me going around the neighborhood like a peeping Tom taking pictures of people's laundry poles. I'm happy no one called the police on me!

In my case, we don't have a lot of garden and anyway are surrounded by forest so it doesn't do much good to put my laundry poles in the yard. Also I don't really like the idea of people walking by and viewing all my laundry (underclothes and the like) so I discreetly "hide" my laundry upstairs on the balcony. This is also a common practice for people who of course live in apartments. In this case, the laundry brackets are attached to the veranda rails but these too will hold two or three laundry poles.

Traditionally the poles were bamboo but now days we can buy plastic covered piping that is somewhat sturdier and can hold a lot of weight. Sometimes I even throw my bedding over these poles.

The use of laundry poles rather than laundry line leads to a whole other industry of laundry products in Japan. We have lovely little gadgets with lots and lots of clothespins that spin freely in the breeze. One gadget like this can hold 50 socks or handkerchiefs or underwear etc and it all clips tightly onto the pole (so that the whole thing doesn't blow off). Clothespins too have morphed into a new shape. Some are double edged and clip onto the pole to hold towels and things tightly and keep them from drying in a drape position. They are also handy because a hanger can be slipped through and this will keep the t-shirt from blowing off the pole hanger and all. Other clothespins loop around the pole and can be moved freely (and they don't bunch up much) for different widths of clothing such as jeans or skirts etc.

Okay. I've got to go do my laundry... but then again, maybe no. It is raining today and though I do have one pole extended across my closets in room upstairs, it doesn't hold much. There are gadgets that will hold indoor poles securely too (attached to the walls) but mine just balances on two closets!

So for all that, no laundry today!

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