© Shirokiya Denbe in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward via The Mainichi
- gloss /glos/
- static /STAT-ik/
- purge /purj/
- accumulate /uh-KYOO-myuh-leyt/
- ingrained /IN-greynd/
[noun] – a smooth, shiny appearance on the surface of something
Could you buy paint that has a gloss finish?
[adjective] – staying in one place without moving, or not changing for a long time
The oil price has remained static for a few months.
[verb] – to get rid of something unwanted, harmful, or evil
The new president has promised to purge the corrupt police force.
[verb] – to collect a large number of things over a long period of time
Don’t allow your debts to accumulate. You’ll have a difficult time paying them.
[adjective] – (of beliefs) so firmly held that they are not likely to change
Tradition is deeply ingrained in Asian culture.
In Japanese homes, traditional brooms produced from plants like kochia or the bark of a hemp palm for bristles were commonly used. These brooms are compatible with soft rush plant tatami mat flooring, and regular use brought out the gloss on the mats’ surface. And of course, every broom comes partnered with a dustpan. Harimi are traditional Japanese dustpans made by stretching washi paper across a bamboo strip framework. They are sealed with kakishibu dye made from persimmon tannin that is water-resistant and serves as a bug repellent. Since the dustpan doesn’t produce static electricity unlike plastic or metal, gathered dust is disposed of neatly. But the highlight of “sweeping” for the Japanese has a more metaphorical significance. Brooms are used as talismans to ward off evil spirits, illness, and danger. Many temples and shrines throughout Japan perform a cleaning ceremony on December 13 to purge physical and mental impurities that have been accumulated over the year.
As we all navigate new lifestyles these days, there may be unanticipated cues from the past. Technology constantly changes and develops, but never tradition. It’s profoundly ingrained in our culture, and no cleaning tool will be able to “sweep” it away.
- Do you practice osouji? Please tell me more about it.
- What do you do in preparation for the New Year?
- Will you use a traditional broom and dustpan to welcome 2022? Why or why not?
- Do you think many Japanese still practice the deep cleaning tradition?
- Why is deep cleaning an important part of Japanese culture?
- ward off