Household Duties in Japan
Everybody has things they need to do regularly to maintain their residence. What you need to do daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly usually depends on where in the world you live and what type of setting you live in. If you live in an apartment/flat you probably don’t have a lawn. If you live in the city you probably don’t have to feed the goats. In Japan the regular tasks required daily blew my mind. They are so different from anything I had to do in New York City.
Japan is one of the countries where housewives are still common. After seeing the amount of work that goes into maintaining a residence I can see why it makes sense. Men are well compensated for their efforts in most places and it allows many women to stay on top of the lengthy amount of household tasks in the role of housewife. Japan is still a fairly male centered society and I have not encountered any house husbands, but I am sure they would have the same tasks. Take a look at the amount of work that goes into a Japanese household. I learned quickly that the energy it takes to perform daily tasks are a big part of why it is common to see many Japanese living until 100!
Laundry must be done daily because of the mold and mildew issues. Mold accumulates quickly. I left my damp clothes in the washing machine overnight out of laziness. Smelled like death the next morning. AND…..most people hang their laundry to dry year round. Which means another task in itself!
Miso soup made fresh, rice, fish, some pickled vegetables, egg. Even if you do not have a traditional breakfast it is not common for Japanese to open packages of pre made food to feed their families.
3.Fold up your bed and put it away.
If you sleep on a futon on the floor, you must fold it up and put it in the closet. It is heavy, and yes, if you do not do it at least every other day, you will be met with mold……I learned the hard way. I now sleep in a “Western Bed”.
4. Cleaning the Ofuro(bath).
Baths are taken daily in the colder months. Again, mold is not your friend and the bath area is your worst offender.You can choose to do this in the evening, but that depends on what time you make it home. You may be dead tired later.
Dust is a big problem here as well. Most of my friends have an air purifier. I try to vacuum daily until I find the nerve to buy a very expensive air cleaner. *sigh*
6. Washing Dishes.
Since I am a housewife I have dishes to wash for 3 meals a day. The amount dishes in Japan are insane because every food has its own dish. Breakfast alone is about 5 dishes per person.
For the life of me I have no idea how a working mother and father can manage! If I were not a housewife I would go crazy and my kids would be eating snickers for breakfast.
I live a semi rural life so my tasks this season also include; hatake(farming the land), taking the garbage to the dump, cleaning up cat poop that may be in my yard, filling the heaters with oil, taking care of Hiobaachan(great grandmother) and Hiojiisan(great grandfather) who is often living with you in a traditional setting.
Now add in normal weekly and monthly tasks like cleaning toilets, children, etc and you have a recipe for exhaustion. We are not even going to mention my outside businesses and hobbies in this article. Whew!
Even as a housewife there are not enough hours in the day. So how have I learned to manage in my 3 years here?
1.Buy a washing machine with a dryer feature. If you can afford it get it! End of story!
2.If you need a break from the dishes serve Western food. Usually you only have 1 plate per person and you may even be able to use a paper plate.
3.Sleep in a Western Bed. Forget about that futon business! Nobody is going to call you a sell out for abandoning that archaic system.
4.Use your resources. If found out that in Aichi prefecture you can call city hall and ask for housekeeping assistance if you have children and expecting. Never hurts to see what the government offers in terms of help. Every prefecture is different so be sure to check.
At the end of the day, we are blessed to live such a life, and I can always look forward to being a 100 year old lady scooping cat poop out of her yard.