Why Does Everyone In Anime Use Clotheslines?

by Justin Sevakis,

Kevin asks:

In anime we see people hanging clothes to dry alot of times in shows set roughly in the present. Do people in Japanese society just not use clothes dryers? You always see a washer in bathroom scenes it feels like but never a dryer. Same with a dishwasher it seems like we always see them washing dishes by hand. Is it considered taboo or only for upper class to have a dryer or dishwasher?

Actually, very few Japanese homes have dryers. Commercial laundromats (or "coin laundry" as they're called there) do, but the average Japanese apartment only has a washer. The washer is sometimes outside in the outdoor walkway rather than taking up space inside the likely very tiny apartment unit. Dryers are available for purchase, but most consider them to be a waste of money and electricity, not to mention space.

Instead, virtually everybody hangs their clothes up to dry. Virtually every Japanese apartment can be seen with a clothesline or hanger in the window. If that household uses a futon instead of a bed, it's often hung outside on the balcony to air out. (If you don't air out your futon, you get dust mites.)

Japan is a very wet country. It rains a lot, and it gets really, really humid in the summer. In the winter and on rainy days, it's pretty common to have to hang your clothes up inside. It's not unusual for some garments to have to be hung for days in order to dry entirely. It's kind of a bummer. If people are in a hurry, they'll duck into a laundromat to use the dryer for a bit (¥100 for 10-15 minutes of drying, usually).

Most Asian countries are like this: they tend to be very conscious about being energy efficient. If you travel to Asian cities, you will almost always see clothing and other laundry items hanging from apartment balconies. It's one of those little things that defines the look and feel of being there.

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Justin Sevakis has worked in the anime business for nearly 20 years. He's the founder of Anime News Network, and owner of the video production company MediaOCD. You can follow him on Twitter at @worldofcrap.

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