The hour has come, he said solemnly! Not who’s hour but what’s hour, the hour of laundry. I’ve piled my dirty clothes into a plastic recyclables bag and am now setting off to the coin laundry! The 7-Eleven is on the way so I pick up a quick breakfast of onigiri, a banana, and vitamin drinks. No need to buy a box of laundry detergent since that is usually provided by the coin laundry from a vending machine or fed into the wash by the machine automatically.
First impression upon entering the coin laundry, they expect you to remove your shoes and put on slippers just as at home or to use the toilet. Pairs of slippers are provided at the door on a strip of carpet. The entire coin laundry is raised above street level. There are piles of manga and magazines piled in plastic bins for your reading pleasure while you wait for your laundry and a bin of umbrella’s in case it rains.
I’m still not sure if you can “borrow” these umbrellas and return them on an honor system or not.[ First-Time Travelers Tip: While Japanese remove their street shoes and wear slippers at home, you do not wear slippers while walking on tatami mats. Slippers actually damage the tatami mat! ]
This coin laundry has a vending machine for softener (called “Softer”), a coin changer, a sneakers washer and dryer and a stand alone washer which is fed detergent automatically, thus explaining the lack of detergent vending machines. A single wash plus detergent for only Y300. On the opposite wall we find banks of dryers (some with softener, some without) and combination washer / dryers, alleviating the need to transfer your wet clothes to the dryer in two steps as I’m about to do.
I load up my laundry, dump three Y100 coins in the machine and we’re off and running! I settle back and munch on breakfast of onigiri and vitamin drinks.[ First-Time Travelers Tip: The Y100 coin is used for everything in Japan so I try to stoke on them by purchasing something at the local conbini! ]
The coin laundry attendant arrives and fastidiously tidies up the place, sweeping the floors and cleaning the dryer filters. Other than the fact that she has keys to the machines, you can tell she works there by the big button displaying the name of the coin laundry.
We strike up a conversation beginning with the usual topics of “where are you from” and “are you here for business or tourism?” We begin forming a common basis for communication, teaching other words in our respective languages although we both already know the basics. We also discuss baseball (I’m a huge Hanshin Tigers fan who are based in Osaka at Koshien Stadium).
I was aware that the dialect , or Kansai-ben, spoken by people in the Kinki region of Japan is much different from the dialect spoken in Tokyo, but today I learned that instead of saying “Arigato Gozaemasu,” Kansai-ben speakers say “Okini” which literally means “very much.” Also the dialect in Kyoto is much softer than in Osaka where they don’t say “Okini.”
This is what I love about (most) Japanese people, they’re warm, friendly, welcoming, eager to learn about you and exchange ideas and knowledge.
It has started raining.
I’ve run my clothes through the dryer twice for a total of 16 minutes at a cost of Y200, and pack them into my day pack for the return walk home.
I say my farewells to the coin laundry attendant and we wish each other “Okini” and “Goodbye.”
I happen across a family bakery with baked goodness smells wafting into the side street. I have to stop in for some fresh baked goods and emerge with a hot azuka bean paste filled bun.