Souji (cleaning)

Cleanliness plans a huge role in Japan – from not wearing shoes indoors to the insanely clean streets.

While in America we’re used to farming that work out to janitors and cleaning ladies (and then treating them like they are invisible), in Japan school children will do all of their own cleaning, on a daily basis. I was blown away when I saw my students crawling around on their hands and knees, cleaning floors and bathrooms. Imagine the uproar and the angry parents if that happened in the US.

We wake up at 6 everyday and clean half of the house. At first this drove me crazy – why should I have to?! – but a few days in I’m starting to ease into it. Importantly, it also makes you think twice before you make a mess in the first place.

The basic cleaning procedure includes vacuuming the floor, mopping the floor with a very slightly wet mop and shaking out pillows and blankets used in the kotatsu.

3 thoughts on “Souji (cleaning)

  1. I remember I felt the same when I came to Japan. “Why should I clean the schools toilet if I were a student”. After being here 13 years though, I have accepted it. It is difficult to explain but I feel more like I should do things even if there is nothing in return, except for a happy person and a smile. Its like offering ur seat to an old lady on the train. I am not sure if this comes with age or if I have simply been japanized over the past 13 years. Anyway, I feel like a lot of people think this way in Japan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s also an unspoken agreement, right? As long as ALL of us behave this way, we all benefit. Which I think is easier to accomplish in a country that fairly homogeneous, but still – quite an accomplishment.


  2. I strongly approve of slightly wet mop – the worst part of cleaning the floors for me back home
    was when water would run everywhere and had to be mopped up or collected in some
    other way. A general remark is, not everything should be reciprocal, and the sooner one
    realizes that the better. The reward of the action is in the action itself blah-blah-blah
    (easier said than done, nevertheless s-o-o-o-o-o true …)


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