As 2018 draws to a close, we would like to introduce one of Japan’s treasured New Year traditions–the year-end cleaning. O-souji, which means “big cleaning,” is conducted in workplaces, schools, and households, mainly in mid- to late December. The custom dates back to the annual cleaning of the Edo Castle, susu-barai, which was thought to bring luck and prosperity into the New Year. In the Edo Period, commoners adopted the practice, and it became a tradition. Even today, the practice of washing away the dust and grime of the old year to prepare for the coming year leaves one with a feeling of purification.
Of course, not many of us have enough time and energy to deeply clean our entire house. We suggest starting small. You could start by using everyday items to clean the places you don’t usually have a chance to clean. For example, old newsprint is the secret to efficient window cleaning. Starting on the outside, use a balled-up sheet of newsprint dipped in warm water to wipe dirt off the glass. Then use a dried, balled-up sheet to wipe off any remaining streaks. The ink from the paper is great for breaking down grime, giving you an easy way to wash your windows. Next, for kitchen sink or faucet cleaning, try a used teabag to gently rub away water stains. Another popular cleaner is baking soda mixed with water, which is useful for all kinds of cleaning: use some of the solution on a cloth to clean the inside of your gas oven or your air-conditioner filter.
Doing a little cleaning like this may bring you a fresh feeling for the coming year.
Last, but not least, be sure not to miss the last day of garbage collection! Almost all trash pick-up services in Japan’s municipalities close for the New Year holidays. To check the last pick-up day for the year, refer to the official website of the town or city where you live. We hope you enjoy the holidays!