This summer, we had so many rainy days. As you already know, our summer is hot and humid, so we are so relieved to feel autumn air.
Today, it was a sunny day. Weather forecasters here often say, `Kyowa sentaku biyori'(Today is a good day to do laundry). It means they expect sun all day. Most people have washing machine here and according to the record from 2013, 64 % of people have dryer. Many washing machine has dryer fundction also. However, only 40 percent of people use the dryer. Accroding to the recoed, 90 % of people believe drying the washing in the sun is the best.
When the weather changes and becomes sunny during the day, we often say each other, `I wish we could go home now to let our laundry be in a sun' `Yes, I wish I could air futon too,' and so on. The clothings dried in the sun has this nice smell and warmth.
Sleeping in futon being aired in the sun is blissful thing(I think most Japanese feel that way).
TV weather casters are sometimes overkind-they sometimes advice, as we shoud bring folding umbrella, or light jacket and so on after reporting weather of the day. They often tell about laudry too. (You can put laundry outside and such things). By the way, it seems in washing detergent advertizement, men often appears-- it is recent thing. It used to be always women who appears in these advertizement.
In older days, people did not use soap- soap has been brougt to Japan from Portugal in Momoyama era(1573-1600), but soap was for only limited people. Ordinary people started using soap after Meiji period(Meiji 1868-1912).
Until then, people used `Komeno togijiru'(water used to wash rice) or `aku' (water dissolved ash) to do laundry. Using tarai(wash tub) and washing by pressing in water was the popular method.
Regarding kimono washing, `araihari' or `tokiarai' is the best thing and still this is done if you bring your kimono to kimono cleaner specialist. It used to be the equipment for this washing were seen at ordinary houses, but not any more. This method is to unpick stitches of the kimono and take a part to each panel and wash them. Kimono are made by putting panels together, so by making them apart, they can be cleaned throughly and can be put together again!
The separated parts are sewn roughly to make one bolt, fabric roll- after being cleaned, the fabric can be sewn again. Araihari washing can clean the whole fabric (sewn part too by unstitching). The fabric are stretched (please imagine hanmock- and there are some bamboo stick (thin and bend easily)to stretch the fabric and being starched, Silk kimono fabrics can be done araihari this way. Cotton fabrics used to be placed on toita(wooden sliding door) to be starched and dried. In old pictures, we can see this drying method often.
We are sometimes asked to do this araihari from Japanese customers) and send the silk kimono to professionals in Kyoto. They need this araihari fee and also fee to unstitch and tailor again, so it is not so reasonable, but still kimono after araihari is done, usually becomes so nice and beautiful again. (When kimono are realy old, the stains and other flow cannot be removed due to the age).
It used to be ordinary people had equipment for araihari and done the washing at home. Maybe some houses still have these equipment. However, accroding to the record, there were `washing women' before Edo period. They visited samurai's families and other rich families and did washing for them and got paid. They earned money by this `occupation'. Women rarely earned money in that era so this occupation must have produces women workers.
Washing procedure of that time was far to elaborate compared to machine washing, but by this procedure like araihari, kimono could become like new again. Kimono could be handed down to next generation by these care.
Regarding kimono care and washing, Mr John Marshall wrotte excellent and detailed article so those who like to know more about kimono care and washing, we recommend his article: