How to.. handle laundry on the Road; Japanese coin-laundry

japanese coin-laundry, image by

japanese coin-laundry, image by

In this article you will learn about:

  • how to do your laundry on the road

  • how to use that time efficiently


Facts of life

Few things in life are certain. But surely, even on your travels, at some point sooner rather than later, there comes the moment that clothes need to be washed. Although you could delay that moment somewhat with these handy tips.

  • don’t bring the kids
  • travel outside ‘the sweaty season of July and August’
  • drive and read books. Don’t explore, hike or move much…

Actually, that is all I can come up with and it is not even very handy. So we need to do laundry.


“コインランドリー” or Coin Laundry

But as most things in Japan, laundry is well organised and easy once you understand the process. So here come the details. “Coin-laundries” as they are called, are about anywhere you need them. Probably because of lack of space and because there are many people living single. These coin-laundries can be found in smaller villages too. To find locations, the word to use in Google is “コインランドリー” which is pronounced about the same as in English if you need to. Just speak slowly and clearly as usual.


The thing with doing laundry is not so much that it is difficult, more that it takes our precious time. Especially waiting around in a boring laundromat is not adding to your sightseeing experiences. So how to make the most of it?


3 ways for making the most of your laundry-cycle

1. At the mall

For me the best place to do laundry on the road is at a big shopping mall. You find them often conveniently near the parking. ‘Go stuff it all in, do your shopping and pick it up nice and clean.’ This is the perfect scenario. It takes timing skills though, and faith that nobody will run off with your underwear. The latter is not so much of a worry, but getting the timing right is hard.

Because shopping always takes longer than expected. Why? You are new to the place so need to look for everything. You cannot read much so finding shops but especially choosing between products takes longer than usual. Of course if you are 2 or more, you can split up.


2. At a sightseeing spot

Another good location can be a smaller village with a something you want to visit anyway. All will be close enough to walk to, the sight will be small enough to fit in the washing cycle and so, again in theory, it will be a smooth ride.


3. Combine with another task

Or you just stay close to the soapy waters and do something else you planned to do anyway. Read a book, have lunch, play ball with the kids or go for a run (and produce more dirty laundry).


Most importantly, don’t worry

You might return late to your machine. The worst that can happen is that another person needs the machine and has taken your things out for you. Keeping them nicely at the side in a basket. A sincere smile and friendly apology is all it takes, in any language you wish. Or just use the words you already know; “sumimasen, arigato gozaimas” which might not be perfect but is easy and will be understood as an apology and a thank you in one.


Wet, dry or drip-dry

With the washing comes the drying. At home most Japanese have not got a special dryer, that is why you see clothes out to dry all the time. Again the space issue. Your camper will have that issue too. Your clean stuff will be not be wet after the washing is done, it will have cycled and spun for a bit already. Now you can chose to collect and go, or use the dryer.


Drying machines

We normally spend a couple of 100¥en coins on the dryer too. That, and more time. If it is sunny, and early in the day, it could be enough when you hang it out. Otherwise better fully dry it all


Steps at the machine


Time the whole cycle takes

(this section is under construction, sorry about that. Please do hand-wash for now..)

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