Washing machine 洗濯機

Back in the days when I was still a bachelor, I would do the laundry as little as was humanly possible – ie. about once a fortnight for clothes and once a month for hand towels, tea towels and so on. Like her mum, however – and particularly now that we’re a family of three – Mrs M does a truly heroic amount of washing. She claims – with some justification, it has to be said – that my bath towels acquire a mouldy, grandad-style stink after just two or three uses, and partly because of this, makes a point of washing every single towel in the house every single day.

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.

Because our old top-loader took little more than half an hour to complete a cycle, Mrs M and I used to mock the slowness of British machines. The BD-V3500, however, is similarly sluggish, and should you make use of it as a tumble dryer too, a complete cycle can take as much as three hours. On the plus side, it can be programmed up to twelve hours in advance, has a special crease prevention feature, an ultra-gentle hand wash equivalent cycle, and often tells you what it’s doing in the soothing tones of a female voiceover artiste.

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.

2 thoughts on “Washing machine 洗濯機”

  1. 30 December 2012. Ten year old washing machine struggling to spin and about to die. Time, I suppose, to lay down the readies for a disposal voucher from the post office and pick up a replacement. Joshin Outlet doing a good deal on the Hitachi. Six-months on, how’d you feel about it? Does the drier keep your chamois soft? Does it get it dry?

    1. Many thanks for the comment, Steve, and for being a regular enough reader that you can recall a blog entry from this far back in the mists of time!
      We’re perfectly happy with the Hitachi after a few months of using it, although there are a couple of things that are worth bearing in mind before you shell out the cash (both of which probably apply to other brands as well):
      1) It really is very big, so if you think you might be moving house at any point in the near future, be prepared to enlist some help and do some heavy lifting.
      2) The dryer is more effective the less laundry you’re doing – ie. if you fill it to capacity it’ll wash fine but your clothes may not be completely dry even after the 2-hour drying cycle.
      Happy haggling and a happy New Year, too!

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