How to “Spring Clean” Your Japanese House

ByJason Gatewood
Feb 21, 2018

How to “Spring Clean” Your Japanese House

You may have noticed not needing to crank the heater up as much, or seeing a bit more light in the skies past 5pm because the days are slowly getting longer. Soon springtime will be here, along with a sudden urge to clean, organize and sort your entire abode. And for those of us from the West, this is a normal feeling, the Spring Cleaning ritual…but here in Japan, you’re about 2~3 months late.


The yearly deep-cleaning ritual that Japanese do called Osouji (お掃除), usually happens during the waning days of Decemeber as many seek to get their living spaces and workplaces sorted for the upcoming new year. Even schoolkids must dedicate a half-day or more of school to scrub their schools (there’s no janitorial staff at most public schools). It’s OK, we’ll let you off the hook this time; Instead we’ll tell you some tips to get your place spic ‘n span with little fuss, so you can have your abode ready to greet the spring flowers in a few weeks.

¥100 Shop Is Your Friend

Of course you’re going to need cleaning supplies and tools. While he temptation may be to just get whatever from the local grocery store, do yourself a favor and head to a ¥100 shop like Daiso, Can-do or Seria. No need to go overboard on the price of your supplies! Things like dish detergent, glass and floor cleaner and the like can add up if you buy the brand name stuff after all.

Check Your Local Garbage Regulations

Throwing stuff out is hard work in Japan. It’s not that difficult to get rid of old magazines and books you may have had stacking up; just consult your neighborhood or building trash chart so you can avoid the sticker of shame on your trash. Also check out our article on how to do this more in detail.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Ditching your old electronics like PCs, TVs, and such is really tough; in most of Tokyo, the regular garbage collection won’t touch it and you’ll need to pay for a third party to come and take it. But, if you’re buying something new to replace the item in question, ask the shop clerk at the time of purchase if they can take away the old item for you. Another way is to contact your nearest recycle shopsecond-hand store and see if they can take if off your hands. In many cases, there’s a noisy truck that will cruise your neighborhood with a speaker loudly proclaiming they’ll take your used stuff if you flag them down. (Just don’t get that truck confused for the other loud trucks in Japan unless you’re the not-easily-embarrassed type.)

The Art Of The Online Deal

A good way of getting rid of still usable stuff is to sell or give it away online. Craig’s List is the granddaddy of them all when it comes to posting your stuff, and it’s pretty safe bet over here in Nippon; I’ve had zero issues personally in the many years I’ve used it to buy and sell, but obviously common sense applies here. Because social media is a thing now, there are many Facebook groups dedicated to Sayonara Sales (like a garage sale to get rid of items before leaving the country) and even a few bartering and giveaway groups.

Leave It To The Professionals

If you don’t do windows… floors, walls or ceilings for that matter, you can always call the professionals. Services like Merry Maids and Casy can help when you feel like you’re short on time and patience for cleaning.

By Jason L. Gatewood

Images: おそうじ“ (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by ahaseg

About the author

Jason Gatewood editor

Our Tokyo based collaborator is a tech nerd, Japanophile, train nut, and a veritable fountain of information on Japan. His current goal is to watch Evangelion and actually "get it", sing every permutation of "Hotel California" at any karaoke gathering, ride every bullet train line, and sample all varieties of ramen throughout Japan. Catch more of his musings at ·