Cleanliness is literally next to godliness in Japan. They say that if your corpse isn’t clean when you’re cremated, the gods won’t accept you into the next life. So, naturally, it’s very important to shower most days and at least keep a clean face and hands at all other times.

But how to do this in AP House?? The RAs can help but often don’t, and you’re left to figure everything out yourself. It can be extremely frustrating to be left in the dark like this. So… I will help you. Aren’t I nice? -rolls eyes-

AP House 1 has four floors–all of which are dorms (though some rooms on the first floor are study or meeting rooms). Floor one is only for men and floor two is only for women. Men can visit the women’s floor and vice versa, but they’re not allowed to use the opposite gender’s shower rooms or bathrooms. There is a public bath as well, which changes its allowed gender week by week. To find it, head directly left from the lobby:

And go down the hallway. Take the first right and look to the right to find the door:

Remember to ask the guard for the key. Also, VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure that you shower THOROUGHLY before using the public bath. Especially your feet. It’s considered the height of rudeness to get dirt in the public bath, as it is a place for relaxation and meditation. Now then. You may be curious what the shower rooms are like. Here are the front curtains that mark a shower room:

It’s polite but not necessary to lift up the bottom left or right corner of the flap (whichever is on the outside) instead of just barging through the middle. When you get inside, you’ll see four doors with little signs that say “Please take off your shoes.” This is because Japanese people never bring their shoes into any place where cleanliness is important. Just leave them outside of the door–no one will take them, I promise. The rooms themselves have two sections and look like this:

The doors swing outward. The door you see there, with the pink sign, locks. The shower door does not (it says it does, it liiiies). Each shower room has a basket you can put your clothes in while you shower. The “do not leave your hair” sign does not refer to the little strands you lose while showering; those are fine to leave. No, apparently, they had a problem a few years ago with girls cutting their hair in the shower stall and then leaving all of that yuck behind. If you forget your shampoo, though, they may send it down to security, so make sure that you take everything with you.

They also have a problem that you will probably scoff at but that I’d like you to take note of anyway. Every few months someone accidentally presses one of the EMERGENCY ONLY buttons scattered pretty much everywhere. Remember, folks, this is Japan, so you’d better not press that button unless someone’s bleeding or collapsed. Seriously. You get in mondo trouble. Like house arrest and no kitchen privileges trouble. The Japanese National Security Council and Fire Department and Police Department drop literally everything to show up when you press this thing, and they do not want to hear “Uh. Um. I didn’t mean to press it…?” For future reference, here is a picture:

I REPEAT: DO NOT PRESS THIS UNLESS SOMEONE IS BLEEDING, SOMETHING IS ON FIRE, OR YOU ARE DYING. It is NOT a light switch! (yes this is what the girl who pressed this two weeks ago said: “I thought it was the light switch.”) This is a light switch:

The top one controls the lights. I don’t know what the bottom one does but it isn’t anything important and if I ever find out I shall let you know. General rule: don’t touch the bottom switch. You won’t get in trouble but it really doesn’t seem to do anything.

So now that you know how to be able to SEE while showering, have a look at the actual shower stall:

Slick, right? So here’s what you need to know. The bottom part that looks like a faucet IS a faucet–for cleaning your feet. To make it turn on, just turn the right handle down. The left handle controls water temperature. Obviously, it’s in C. If you turn this dial all the way up as it is in this picture, you. Will. Burn. That’s what the little red button is for, actually. If the water gets nuclear hot on you, hold down the red button and that will cool the water to bearable temperatures (about 105 F). Or just turn the dial down and try to avoid the lava spraying from the nozzle. Quick tip about Japanese showers: the water pressure is much higher than most Western showers. If you crank the right dial all the way up, the water might actually physically hurt you. It’s nice once you’re used to it, but at first, maybe turn the dial two-thirds up. There is another clip for the shower head higher up, for us tall people, but the shower head tends to twist to one or the other side of the stall when it’s placed in the holder while running. I’d recommend just holding the darn thing, as the clips aren’t that effective.

So now you’re clean, wet, and you discover that you have no more clean clothes! Oh no.

You can buy detergent at the Co-Op, but be sure to buy the combination detergent powder that has ブルースター written on it. It’s too complicated to work out all the ratios for the other two types. If you don’t buy the combination, you have to buy two other types of soap to compensate for this, and it’s a massive pain in the rear. Here is the *one* laundry machine on my half of the floor:

The machines are much smaller than American models, and hold maybe four days’ worth of clothes. There are detailed instructions on the wall to the right of the machines, so I won’t repeat what’s written there. Just, do take note of the fact that the washer takes 20-60 minutes and the dryer takes 2-3 HOURS. I would recommend running the light cycle on the dryer and then hanging up your damp clothes in your room to dry. You’re supposed to watch the machines with your clothes in them, no one does, but do please keep track of when you put your clothes in and promptly move them. Other people live on your floor too. Leaving them in the machine for hours and hours is just plain rude (SHORI. Grrr.). As an extra incentive, if the clothes sit in a turned off machine for more than an hour, the other residents are permitted to do whatever they like with them. The nicer residents just send them to Security. The meaner ones… well… delicates on the flagpole, anyone? Naaah, I’m kidding. But they will either throw them on the floor or lay them out on the dining tables. And that’s really not something anyone wishes to see, I’m sure.

So, you’re washed, dried, and in clean clothes. You are now presentable in Japanese society!