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3. Inside Japanese Homes

Floors and Walls

Special care is needed for tatami mats. When vacuuming, slide the vacuum cleaner slowly along the grain of the tatami, and when wiping the surface, use a dry rag (or a wet one that is tightly wrung). Do not put wet items on the tatami, and make sure it is completely dry before putting down rugs or furniture. Pests such as ticks (dani) are prone to inhabit tatami, so it is good to remove them with spray-type or smoke-type insecticides, which are sold in drugstores or supermarkets. Flooring is quite soft and is easily scratched and dented, so be careful when moving furniture or vacuuming, and use cleaners and oils which are suitable for your flooring. Many Japanese homes have sliding doors and walls that are covered with materials made from paper, so be advised to handle these with care. If you wish to repair damaged floors or walls, please consult your real estate agent (landlord) for the repair companies. In general the costs are your responsibility.


Futon

Japanese-style bedding (futon) is laid on the tatami at night and put away during the day. When putting it inside the closet, it is good to put it on the upper level to keep it dry and moisture-free. Mattresses, blankets, and covers should be hung out in the sun at least once a month.


Bath

In Japan, bathtubs are for relaxing by soaking in hot water, and the body is washed outside the bathtub. Therefore, bathrooms are designed so that the hot water could be splashed all over the bathroom. Some bathtubs have hot water taps where you can turn on a switch or run a faucet to fill the bath; in others, baths are filled with cold water and then heated. Because the bathwater is reused for all family members, do not drain the bath water until the last person is finished. The bath water can also be saved for washing or for emergencies. Bathrooms are quite humid, so clean and dry the bathroom frequently to prevent mold.


Toilet

Japan has two types of toilets. One is the Japanese-style toilet which is set into the floor and requires one to squat while facing the hooded end. The other is the Western-style sitting toilet. Most public buildings have both types of toilets available. In addition, most homes have slippers equipped for the exclusive use of the toilet, and one must remove them before leaving the toilet area.


Humidity

Summer in Fukuoka is very hot and humid, so you must be careful of damage caused by humidity such as mold. There are many types of dehumidifying agents (desiccants), so place them in closets, drawers, and other places that are poorly-ventilated. When the whole room is humid, use an electric dehumidifier. To clean bathroom mold, use a mold cleaner. Read the instructions thoroughly, for they can be hazardous. Mold can be prevented from forming on futons, cushions, and bathtub covers by airing them out on sunny days.


Laundry

When purchasing a washing machine, confirm its placement (drain outlet, size etc.) beforehand. Laundry is usually dried on the balcony washing lines or drying racks, which are mostly pre-installed. Laundry poles and lines can be found in supermarkets or household goods stores. Coin laundry services are also available.


Pests

Because Fukuoka has a warm climate, you may see many kinds of insects (especially cockroaches and ticks) throughout the year. While spray-type insecticides are useful to eliminate insects one by one, it is advisable to use a smoke-bomb type one for the whole room to thoroughly exterminate pests. In summer, mosquitoes can be rid of with mosquito repellent coils or electric repellents. These many types of insecticides are found in drug stores, supermarkets, or household goods stores. It is convenient especially in summer to have insect repellents and anti-itch medicine.