HOW TO: Use hot/warm water in a Japanese washing machine

I recently discovered a cool trick with our washing machine (sadly to say it took me this long to discover it). My first washing machine was bought from a secondhand shop, oldish, and didn't have this function, which is probably why I hadn't figured this out until now. And when I say function, I'm talking about the ability to pump water from the bathtub into the washing machine.

Considering that Japanese tubs, お風呂 (おふろ, ofuro - "o" being the honorific prefix), tend to be deep (but not long) and hold a significant amount of water, it would make sense to reuse all that water, right?

Many washing machines (though not all), have functions to allow you to pump all the leftover (presumably still mostly clean) water into your washing machine for a load of laundry. If the idea of reusing that water for clothes grosses you out, keep in mind that the pump heads actually contain filters. Some models even contain activated charcoal filters, so you could practically drink the water, really (though these are much more expensive - and no, I wouldn't recommend drinking the water).

My husband and I rarely use our tub, with the exception of an occasional soak; we find it a bit hard to justify using all that water and prefer shorter showers. Though once I realized we could pump water from the tub, I immediately thought I could use hot/warm water for the occasional load of laundry, such as towels or linens. Our washing machine, like many, only uses cold water to wash and rinse, which I don't mind most of the time but have wished at times for the capability of a hot water wash for certain items (I would imagine if you used cloth diapers for your child this may come in handy as well). So if you're like me, and would at least like the option of washing with warmer water, definitely check out your washing machine.

*That isn't to say that you can't just go to a local laundromat (if the machines use hot water - some do and some don't from my experience), but I know I prefer to do as much laundry as possible at home without having to lug it around.

Our machine came with an extra hose for pumping water, which we connect to a special valve at the back of the machine. The actual "pump" on ours is electronic and internal, and all we do is press a couple buttons, throw the pump end in the tub (with enough water for the chosen wash level), and let it do its thing. Some washers may have an external pump that is on the filter end of the hose. The easiest way to check if your washing machine is capable of pumping water itself is to just look for an extra hose valve on your machine (typically on the top, towards the back). If your machine came with a hose, it's quite likely there will be a valve somewhere. You can also look at your machine's manual, for something like "お風呂を使う."

The valve typically has a cap on it to match the washer, so you'll want to look for possible openings

The buttons and descriptions towards the front of the machine may also indicate the machine has the ability to automatically pump water. Look for お風呂水 anywhere (the newer Panasonic models with this function all seem to have this written somewhere so it's possible older ones might as well) or お湯取, literally, "to take hot water."

If you've checked out your washing machine and can't find any extra hose valves, or your machine didn't even come with an extra hose (if you bought it new), no worries! You can buy an incredibly cheap hose (給水ホース, きゅうすいホース, kyuusui hoosu OR バスポンプ用ホース, basu ponpu you [o sound] hoosu) and water pump (バスポンプ, basu ponpu) that you basically set up to fill the washer with water before you start it. I suppose you could always just carry water over with a bucket, but... not sure why you would want to if a handy dandy pump can do it for you. Then again, it would be a great arm workout.
Bath pump

You can find water pumps and extra hoses almost anywhere - home stores, electronics stores,, etc. You can buy them separately, or together in a pack, and the prices range anywhere from 500 yen a piece, separately, up to 8000 yen or more in a package, depending on what you want/need.

Couple things to keep in mind:

*If your washing machine is located outside or nowhere near your bathtub, the hose probably won't be long enough to reach.

*When using the external pump that you plug in, make sure you follow the instructions carefully so you don't get electrocuted. If you can't read them, try and find someone who can translate them for you so you are 100% sure of how to use that particular model. (Though what I've listed below is pretty standard).

*Check your pump manual to see if there's a temperature limit at all. It's possible some might only be able to use water up to 45 degrees Celsius or so.

how to use hot or warm water in a Japanese washing machine

1. If your machine has the extra hose valve for pumping, attach the hose (properly, so it will work and won't leak all over the place).

Make sure it's tight! I need to dust off our washer...

If you cannot attach the hose to your machine, then you'll want to follow the instructions of the external pump and hose you bought, though basically you'll drop one end in the washing machine (unless it has a faucet attachment some kind of stand to hook to the side of your machine) and the other end to the filter head of the pump. (You'll want to plug in the electronic base with the on/off switch as well).

2. Carry the end of the hose, with the pump, to the tub, and place in the water. Make sure the hose is stretched rather straight - you don't want any bends, curves, or kinks, as this makes it difficult to pump the water into the machine.

No bends, kinks, etc.
3. If your machine has a pump, then choose the appropriate settings. In our machine's case, I turn it on as I normally would, choose the wash and water level settings, and then press the お湯取 button once for a hot water wash cycle (press again for rinse, and again for both). If the first option is lit up (in this case, 洗い (あらい, arai), then the machine will pump the hot water into the machine for the wash cycle. If the second option is lit up (すすぎ, susugi), then the machine will pump more water from the tub for the rinse cycle. If both are lit up, well, then both cycles will use the hot water. If neither, I'm sure you know the answer to that one...

After that, I shut the door and press "start." If you use an external pump, you'll probably need to fill the machine before you press start (as you'll need to close the lid, of course). I believe some or most pumps come with some kind of water level sensor, as well, but you'll have to check the pump you buy. For anyone out there who uses an "external" bath pumps, feel free to share your own experiences in the comments, as I have never used one.

Oh, and you'll want to be careful when taking the hose out of the water and disconnecting it from your machine, if applicable - the water tends to spray around if you don't drain it. At least, it seems to spray me, even after I thought it was completely drained...

Q&A: Squash in Japan?

All right folks, particularly those of you from the UK, Australia and New Zealand, or anyone from any country who may know something about this, feel free to jump in here for this Q&A:

Q: Do you know of any Japanese soft drinks that you dilute before drinking? I'm from the UK where these are referred to as squash or cordial. I'm not sure what the equivalent name is in the US. I'd like to track some down in Japan as it will be a cheaper option than the ready-to-drink Coke/Calpis/Green tea etc., I've been buying at vending machines / supermarkets.



A: Thanks for your question, Alistair. To be honest, I'm not entirely familiar with squash or cordial, and as far as I can tell from my research, it sounds similar to concentrate that we use in the US, typically for juice or party drinks (usually alcoholic but not all the time). I'm not sure this is exactly the same as what you may be referring to, and if not hopefully some others out there will know exactly what you are talking about and be able to help.

However, if it is similar, or just for anyone out there wondering about juice concentrate in Japan - in almost every daily goods store I've been to, there is a section for various concentrates one typically uses when mixing drinks. (This is also where you can typically find club soda, ginger ale, and similar items). Usually they are located next to or near the alcoholic beverages (wine, sake, etc.) The selection I've found seems to vary by store...  Supermarkets also often have a small section for these as well. The choices tend to be limited in most of the stores I've been to, but depends on what you are looking for. has examples of what I'm talking about, and some can be found by using the katakana form of "cordial" (コーディアル). (Though again, not entirely sure if that is what you are looking for).

I've discovered juice concentrate to be more difficult to find, though I've occasionally seen apple juice type concentrate in stores (and lemon juice, though not for lemonade as it's just straight), and orange juice concentrate via The Flying Pig and cranberry juice concentrate via Tengu Natural Foods.

However, one way to save some money on various drinks is to buy the larger bottles (if you don't already) - you can usually find these for water, tea, and different kinds of soft drinks, though not all kinds. (Supermarkets and daily goods type stores will offer more of a selection than convenience stores). They typically don't cost much more than a regular size bottle, but last much longer.

So, I'd like to now hand this off to all the readers out there (specifically those of you who know all about cordial/squash) to please share any of your experiences with this in Japan, such as where you found it, what kinds are available that you know of, or anything other pertinent information. Thanks much in advance!


There's a website I've heard of (but haven't ordered from) called British Corner Shop, that appears to carry squash and ships all over the world. Might be worth a try if you really want something you can't find here! (Though, that would probably defeat the purpose of trying to find cheaper alternatives locally!)

translate text AND speech with Google Translate app

Today I'm pretty excited to talk about an iPhone app (which also happens to be an iPod touch/iPad app, of course) that Google just introduced as a native app for these devices, versus in the browser, which, until now, has been the only way to use Google services on these devices (so of course, still is for various other services).

Which service?

Google Translate

I remember watching a video a month or so ago demonstrating translation technology that allows speakers to speak sentences in their chosen language, and have them automatically translated to the listener's language. It was an interesting concept, and worked quite well in that demonstration - no doubt this will improve in the future.

Press the microphone next to the input field to speak