If you’re used to using a dryer when you do laundry in your home country, you might be in for a surprise if you ever move to Japan. Despite the country’s numerous technological advancements to make your life easier, clothes dryers here pale in comparison to many overseas models, and they aren’t something you’ll find in your average Japanese household. Instead, most Japanese people prefer to hang their washing outside to air dry.
Sure it’s a more affordable and ecological way of doing things, but what do you do when the rainy and typhoon seasons make drying clothes outside impossible or you have too much laundry to hang outside all at once? It’s time for a trip to the laundromat, or what Japanese like to call a "koin randorii" (coin laundry). In fact, they’re becoming so popular that over the past 10 years the number of coin laundries across Japan has almost doubled, despite little growth in the laundromat industry world-wide.
But why is the coin laundry business suddenly booming? We decided to find out.
In addition to bad weather or too little space available to hang up multiple loads of laundry in one go, here are a few other reasons why Japanese people consider coin laundries a convenient option.
Besides the fact that most households don’t have a dryer, some smaller living spaces might not have enough space for a washing machine, either. And because most accommodation in Japan comes unfurnished, it’s not uncommon for people who are moving to their own apartment for the first time to use a nearby laundromat to do their washing and drying until they purchase a washing machine or set up their utilities.
Not only that, but humid summers and freezing cold winters means you’ll be changing your bedding throughout the year, and most household washing machine models are too small to handle down comforters and other large items. Before many Japanese took these types of items to the dry cleaners, but recently they’ve discovered that coin laundries are quicker and cheaper.
But what exactly makes coin laundries so great besides the fact that they exist in the first place? Japanese Twitter users weigh in.
▼ “On the recommendation from one of my followers, I visited a coin laundry for the first time. I had imagined they were dingy and drab, but isn’t this amazing?! The interior is so nice~♪ The man working there was so friendly and he gave me a lot of good tips lol”
▼ “This 24-hour coin laundry is really nice. They’re not cutting any corners here (｀・д・´)
▼ “The shoe washing machine at the coin laundry is really convenient”
Worried about entertainment options while you wait? Most coin laundries have a TV or comic books set out for customers to read. Or, you can get creative like this family.
Even netizens outside of the Twitterverse were keen to chime in:
“Because the dryer is over 70°C (around 160°F), it kills mites and is good for allergies. Even when the pollen season hits and it’s everywhere, it doesn’t stay on my clothes.”
“That warm feeling you get from fluffy, dry clothes from the dryer. It’s heaven!”
“You can get your duvet washed and dried at the coin laundry for 1/3 of the cost of taking it to the cleaners.”
I have to admit, there are several times I’ve found myself thankful for the coin laundry’s late opening hours, like that time when one of my cats coughed up a hairball on my sheets right before bed, or because they usually provide tables and chairs so you can multitask and get some work done while you wait. If you visit a family-run coin laundry and someone is on duty, they might even offer to do your washing, drying, and folding for you, just like mom would back home.
Curiously enough, while there aren’t as many new laundromats being rolled out overseas in comparison, recently existing businesses have been expanding their range of services, like offering drinks and beverages to make customers feel more comfortable while they wait.
How do Japanese coin laundries compare with laundromats where you live?
Sources: Twitter, B-chive, Diamond Online, Sofa ni Nenagara Kangaeta, Matome Naver
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