Thursday, March 13, 2014

Will Miss #536 - having a laundry hook-up in the apartment

The beige tray on the left (under the water spigot) was the home of my machine for more than two decades. You can see that there are disadvantages - mold developed on the walls behind and in front of it from moisture (both from the machine and the bathing area behind that door). Those trash bags were the things we were tossing out when we were vacating the apartment. It's not garbage so much as possessions that weren't worth carrying back to the U.S.

Prior to spending most of my adulthood in Japan, I had not lived in a truly independent fashion. I spent 23 years in my parent's house and then a year in California in my husband's best friend's house. The ease of living in a house was something that I took for granted. I had never rented my own place in the U.S. so I had no idea how that all tended to work when I returned to the U.S. at the age of 48. One of the surprises in store for me was that most apartments, at least in the Bay Area, don't have their own laundry facilities or a space in which one can set up a machine.* You have to rely on public or communal apartment (pay laundry) machines. Though the apartments here are bigger inside, people seem to prefer filling that space up with their crap instead of having the convenience of on-site laundry capability.

In Japan, there was space in my apartment for a washing machine. It had a plastic shell and a built-in drain. It was in the space next to the area with the tub and shower so I could recycle water from the tub if I wanted to by putting it in the washing machine. After spending some time back home dealing with the hassles of public laundry facilities which often consume my quarters without offering full service (either because the machines malfunction or the dryers are anemic), I truly miss having the ability to just toss my clothes into a machine any time I want. 

*Note: I know I can buy a portable washing machine and manually hook it up to a sink. However, this is not the same as having a dedicated space with a drain and water faucet. Lugging a machine back and forth and connecting it to the sink is not something I want to be doing - not to mention I'd still have to use the laundry room's dryer since there's no space for hanging clothes up to dry in most of the apartments here.

15 comments:

  1. I always refused to live in apartments in the US that didn't come with a washer/dryer. It was always a stackable unit are you know small, but it was definitely worth not having to go to a laundromat once a week.

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    1. There are some places with built-in laundry, but one of my friends had one of those (they're not common) and he found it abysmal. It was noisy and took hours to dry clothes. Even when they can be had, they're nearly useless. Fortunately, I don't have to go to a laundromat, but I do have to use the laundry room (which is the same only its users are limited to the people in the complex).

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  2. I'm honestly surprised. I'd expect that in the farm country in Midwest (Nebraska, Kansas, etc) but not in California. Here on the East Coast most apartment homes built and apartment style condos built after the 1990s have a laundry room/area built into the apartment. They also have the separate laundry facility for the entire complex, which as you mentioned you have to pay for, that some people use because either the apartment doesn't come with the washer-dryer or because they have to pay for water usage. Even old apartments are forced to renovate to keep up with the times.

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    1. We have a separate facility for the complex, but it is, essentially, a tiny laundromat type of deal - you pay to use it and it has two washers and two dryers. It's just not as far to go.

      I think that this apartment building used to have onboard laundry capabilities (based on a breaker in the fuse box which seems to connect to nothing), but that they were removed at some point in the distant past to make the apartment seem bigger or sleeker. That is a pure guess though!

      I think in rural areas, there are more likely to be laundry facilities because a communal laundry area wouldn't have enough people to support it. However, I never lived in an apartment in my rural hometown (I lived in my parents' house). :-)

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  3. I lived in Japan so long ago that I did not have laundry facilities in my apartment or in the small bldg where I lived. I used to wash my clothes BY HAND in the kitchen sink. That was fun (not really, especially in winter time when it would be cold)!! At least I had wash and wear clothes so ironing was not needed much.....

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    1. Did you not have a machine or did you not have a hook-up for one? I should have been clearer, but there was no machine in my place. I had to get my own machine. There was just a place for one where it was meant to be. This is a subject for a later post, but Japanese apartments don't come with washing machines (at least not the usual ones).

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  4. When I first arrived in Japan we had the old type of Japanese washing machine. It had two side by side compartments. We had to fill the first one and add soap. After that was done we had to drain the water and add the rinse water in. Then after that spun it needed to also be drained. Then it had to be put into the separate spinner (the other compartment) and then spun.
    When one of the office managers came by they laughed and quickly got us a newer machine--not new of course, but at least it was automatic.

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    1. We had one of those at the beginning, too!

      I posted about it here:
      http://1000thingsaboutjapan.blogspot.com/2012/09/random-memories-7.html

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  5. Interesting. When I was a university student in Kyoto my washing machine was out on the balcony. Glad to have one inside my apartment now:)

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    1. When my husband worked in Japan alone (during our distance relationship), his was on his balcony, too!

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  6. My wife's sister and mother had washing machines when we lived there in the early 1970's. I remember that these were so small in comparison to those in the USA. It meant that the housewives (who did this chore in those days) had to do laundry almost everyday or else they'd never keep up with the demands of the family! But then refrigerators and other appliances were/are also smaller in Japan.

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    1. They are quite small in general. Housewives do have to do them nearly every day. I had to do it twice a week for just two people. During the rainy season, it was nearly impossible to stay on top of it because things never dried!

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    2. Ah, yes, people don't use dryers in Japan. Saves A LOT of energy but makes for wet clothes in rainy season!!

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  7. I am lucky enough to have laundry hook-ups in my apartment but it's tough to find an apartment with such amenities where I live too... and if you find such an amenity you usually pay through the nose for it. I much rather have space taken up by laundry machines than a place the hubs can potentially hoard more Star Wars stuff in.

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    1. Our hording days are over, fortunately. ;-) Our "bedroom" is largely unused by us. We just keep things in there that we probably wouldn't keep at all if we had a smaller place. Space really does make you keep more "stuff"!

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