In our neighborhood our houses are so close together that we know what the next house is having for breakfast. We know when our neighbors turn on their washing machine and then when everyone hangs out their washing it is like an army unfurling their battle flags.
In fact, there seems to be a subtle competition going on to see who can hang out the most laundry the earliest.
We suspect that our next door neighbor, Asagawa-san, gets up early so she can get her washing hung up before anyone else gets out of bed, and maybe has even bought clothes at a jumble sale that nobody in the family can wear, just to fill up her laundry lines. She hangs out laundry every day.
Asagawa-san also hangs out her family's several futon, the thin mattresses we use here (if it's not raining or doesn't look like rain), then in the afternoon just before the sun goes down she beats them--whack, whack, whack--for ten minutes to scare away any dust. Asagawa-san's futon-beating is a neighborhood ritual. She has beaten us all at this….
- Mikie Yaginuma