I'm going backpacking for a month in Japan and I plan to pack lightly. So I have couple of questions about how I can wash my clothes in Japan.

I expect laundromats to be quite common in big cities but what about little towns in rural area (for example, Hokkaido)?

I'm used to washing my clothes in hot water, but I've read that clothes are washed in cold water in Japan. How different is from what I'm used to? Do I have to use different detergents and/or in a different way?

I asked couple of questions here but since they are all pretty much related to the same topic I don't think it would be useful splitting this question.

4 Answers 4


There is for example this company that has a website where they list all the coin-laundries (コインランドリー). You will have to know how to read addresses in Japanese at least to use this.

There are tons of others, also usually found in remote areas:

In terms of washing, there is nothing to worry about. Everything works just as fine as hot water and pretty much the same. I found this article that says that you can compensate for the temperature by either longer washing or stronger chemicals. I am not 100% certain what the norm is in Japan. I would google translate the most important terms though or ask someone who speaks english to come with you the first time. I would not expect anyone in these shops to speak english or any of the buttons on the machine to be english.

The only thing is that Japanese detergent usually are not smelling "nice". They have a rather chemical smell. It seems that Japanese consumers relate a chemical detergent smell more to "clean" than something flowery.


Staffed laundries are more common in Japan than laundromats, but hotels, ryokan and minshuku will often have washing machines you can use as well.

Washing machines are fully automatic, the cold water is compensated for by more aggressive detergents. So it could be that detergent you bring along would not be effective.

  • 1
    Yes, before going out to look for a laundromat, do ask your lodging if they have a washing machine. In smaller places, they will even offer to do your laundry for you (and for free).
    – fkraiem
    Oct 27, 2015 at 4:56

When I hiked through Japan in 1999 I mainly was guided by the Lonely Planet edition of that year. Every hotel/inn/B&B I stayed had modern (western style)- do it yourself - washing machines. I never experienced any problem. I don't know the situation when you get of the lonely planet track


One thing to be careful of is that many laundry machines in Japan are now the super-high efficient kind that need very low or non-sudsing detergent.

Detergent that's now sold in Japan is fine, but if you bring detergent from your home country, it may be high-sudsing -- which can cause the machine to overflow with suds or even damage it.

So regardless of whether you use a coin laundry or the laundry machine in a ryokan/guest-house/private-home, either use the laundry detergent provided or buy your own from a local store (even a ¥100 store has some) -- and only use your own home-country detergent if you are absolutely sure that it's low-sudsing, high-efficiency compatible detergent.

Info link: http://home.howstuffworks.com/appliances/energy-efficient/5-high-efficiency-detergents.htm

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