New Year’s Cleaning
Tokyo remained merely cool until mid-December and I continued wearing my light autumn jacket until December 12th. After that it grew colder day by day until early January when I could truthfully say “It’s quite chilly.” So I cannot properly call it a “sudden” drop in temperatures, but it was sudden enough and noticeable. My wife continued working after I was already on holiday, annoyingly lounging around the apartment every day while she slavishly went out and later returned exhausted and tired with all the cares of a working woman. It made for some short-temperedness. I was lounging in bed when she left to work hard all day, and when she returned I was still relaxing in bed. (Japanese housewives sometimes refer to their retired husbands as “sodai gomi,” or big garbage who hang around the house unwanted, getting in their way. My wife, Junko, feels like that about me if my schedule gives me too much free time.)
The last day of the year we were both at home together and we engaged in the traditional year-end house cleaning. I went crazy with the vacuum cleaner and the dusting rag that day while she “put away” all the autumn clothes and took out the winter wear. Thoroughly cleaning the house at the end of the year to start the New Year clean and fresh is the thing to do here, comparable to spring cleaning in Canada. It was then, New Year’s Eve, that I put away all our Christmas decorations and picked through accumulated junk in the house for the garbage. However, since garbage services were suspended for several days during the holidays (New Year’s in Asia is like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Canada Day all thrown together), we had to store trash on the balcony until January 5th, when garbage pick up resumed.
On New Year’s Eve we stayed indoors watching TV and slurping “toshikoshi soba” for dinner. Soba are brown-colored buckwheat
noodles and they are a traditional New Year’s food. Slurping one’s noodles is the thing to do here.
On New Year’s Day my wife was working once more while I continued lounging at home with the children. Never any rest for the lucky. I ended up feeling unwell because of too much sedentary rest. Junko asked me to clean the mold off the ceiling of the shower room. Japanese bathrooms are subject to mildew because of the climate here and cleaning the bathroom is typically a husband’s job. I don’t know why. Anyway, I was still in the spirit of cleaning so I did more than she asked. I scrubbed and scrubbed mold everywhere. Up. Down. Underneath. Then once more for good luck. It was fantastically clean. A local ¥100 shop was open so I picked up two one-liter bottles of bleach - one to keep in the kitchen for later use and the other to use right away in this bathroom-cleaning enterprise. I used a whole liter of undiluted bleach to clean it and decided to shower myself in the process. Kill three birds with one stone: clean the bathroom, clean myself, and warm myself up. But I felt sick for the rest of the day because of the ammonia fumes. Note for future reference: use less bleach and dilute it with some clean water.