Our second-hand top loading washing machine (top loaders are still the norm in Japan, and while they won't flood the room if you open the door in mid-cycle, can strip a shirt of its buttons within weeks) cost a paltry 9000 yen back in 2011. With a capacity of just 4.5kg, though, Mrs M often found herself doing three loads a day, so in order to save her some hard labour, the other week we went to K's Denki and bought a brand new, front-loading Hitachi BD-V3500.
The last washer-dryer I bought in the UK - from John Lewis, no less - cost less than three hundred quid, but here, even this almost-bottom-of-the-range model set us back 100,000 yen, which is about 750 quid at the current exchange rate. If nothing else, though, it's an impressively enormous gadget: where British washing machines are designed to fit snugly beneath a kitchen counter top, here they are installed stand-alone in utility rooms or on verandas, as you can see from this photo of our glamorous product model M Jr.
The first time M Jr was confronted with its monolithic presence she was genuinely frightened, but she will now sit and watch the drum spinning and the lights flashing on the control panel for as long as you leave her there - in fact, if she was a little taller she would probably climb on board and go for a spin.