07 May, 2014

Cleaning Up

On Monday we had a bonus day to our weekend. This week just gone is called Golden Week in Japan. That's because it is "golden" for retailers and films. There are several unrelated public holidays all clustered together. As a result there are big crowds at tourist places, and on the expressways.

Alas CAJ only takes one of the holidays. But we took advantage of it: while millions of others were relaxing in various places we used it as a day to prepare our house for us leaving for Australia next month. The other advantage is that by staying home we didn't have to deal with crowds or traffic jams.

New oven
Our new fancy oven. I'm tempted to say, "fandangle" oven
but the dictionary tells me that means "nonsense or elaborate
ornament", which is clearly isn't.
We went to buy a new oven/microwave/grill at an electrical
store. Our old one hadn't quite died, but it was showing its age (it was about 12 years old). For example, a couple of times recently the door has spontaneously opened slightly while cooking. The first time this happened we were baking pavlovas for guests that evening (you aren't supposed to open the door of the oven while baking these), so it caused some consternation. It took some time to figure out what had happened, because the door opening was so slight that it wasn't visibly open, just enough to stop the oven from working.

If we were moving out and packing up stuff into storage, we wouldn't have bothered to buy a new one now. But we're preparing our house for house sitters, and we really don't want to leave them with appliances that are going to pack-it-in while we're away.

When I posted on Facebook about our new oven, one Australian noted that it was obviously different to renting a house in Australia. Yes, Japanese houses usually don't come with a built-in oven. Ovens are usually an appliance you take with you. That being said, the last two houses we've rented have both come with ovens. But this is very unusual.

The other thing unusual about this appliance from an Australian point of view is that it is not just an oven, it is also a microwave, and a grill too. That is pretty standard here, unlike Australia. Very efficient, unless you want to use an oven and a microwave at the same time!

It is also small, by Western oven standards. Only 33L, but the largest we could buy in this style (I presume you can buy built-in ovens), but larger than the one we replaced by a couple of litres. So evidently ovens here are gradually getting larger?

The challenge now is figuring out how to use it. It's got all sorts of functions that we'll probably never use. We've figured out how to use it as a basic microwave and oven, but there is still much to learn, including a "steam oven" function and a "self-cleaning" function.

Fixing the dryer
While we were at the electrical store we asked about our dryer, which is leaking. We mistakenly took the dryer with us, but they said they'd check with the supplier about spare parts and, if available, would send someone over to try to fix it at our house. So we toted the dryer back to our house and back up to its 1 ½ floor home (our laundry/bathroom is halfway up the stairs, over the carport). Thankfully we have a strong boy in the house. Strength training at wrestling came in handy and he easily managed the moving around of these items!

Today the fix-it man came and fixed our 11 year old dryer for ⅙ of the cost it would have taken to replace it.

Another point of difference from Australia to Japan: dryers here are pretty uncommon, there were none "on the floor" at the large electrical store we visited. So it was good to see the fix-it man finding his way around the dryer with no problem.

Deep Cleaning
After lunch we told the boys they were expected to work for an hour cleaning around the house. We gave some suggestions and let them choose. No going into details, but some of us quickly got our hour done and one other took quite a bit longer. But the end result was that we made progress on leaving our house cleaner for our house sitters. We still have a lot more to do, but it feels good to have done some already. 

And so, our preparation for leaving continues.

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