Monday, 17 April 2017

A washing line stretching between cultures

I don't imagine houses built in the UK come with fitted washing lines, even though creels may have been standard issue in the past.

A washing line came fitted onto our house, and I'm sure this was one of the things we spent a few hours talking over with the architect. Like many of the decisions it was wrapped up in invisible cultural assumptions.

For a start, washing lines in Japan are actually washing poles, traditionally bamboo hanging down from the eaves of a house. Ours is held up by two brackets bolted onto the pillars holding up our balcony. In our original plan, a terrace ran the whole width of our house along the south. At some point, partially to increase the amount of garden and partially to reduce the cost of construction, this was shortened to two thirds of the width. The terrace remained in front of the kitchen at the East, but was removed at the West. The washing pole remained at the west, so that area remained dedicated to washing, making it difficult to plant much there.

The reason the washing pole stayed there is probably that the pillars on the terrace don't line up. In three places along its width, there are two pillars holding the balcony up, but in the middle of the terrace there is only one. This means that the brackets would stick out at different lengths. Actually this is not such a problem. Whoever designed the washing pole brackets had obviously thought about this possibility, and made oval holes for the poles so they are perfectly equipped to protrude adjacently from bits of building that are not parallel. More recently I moved the washing pole so it is above the terrace, which turned out to be very straightforward, although it interfered with an awning we were using before.

There was a more simple solution: A washing line.

Specifically a retractable washing line, that can be pulled from one end of the terrace to the other, and possibly back again. It could even be pulled to a post elsewhere in the garden. If I could find one. UK online sites have several models to offer, but most of the retractable washing lines in Japan are less than two metres long and designed for hotel bathrooms.
We did find one though, and it seems to work.