If your accommodation doesn’t offer a cheap laundry option, or if you plan to camp, no worries – the public laundrettes in Japan are readily available, affordable, safe and really clean.
The self-service laundromats are called “coin laundry” or コインランドリ (literally “coin randori”). They are commonly used by many Japanese people, because they often don’t have a washing machine at home, especially in smaller apartments. They also often come to wash special items such as large blankets or shoes.
How do coin laundries work?
It can be intimidating at first if you don’t read Japanese, but with this advice and help from the friendly locals, you will manage just fine.
- 100 yen coins: you will most likely have to pay with 100 yen coins. Some laundries include a change machine, but not always, so you may want to exchange coins at a nearby convenience store.
- Detergent: you can buy some at a vending machine onsite, or at a local convenience store (cheaper). However, some machines already include detergent so you are not supposed to add any – if there is no detergent vending machine, make sure to ask if it is already included.
- Washer vs dryer: washing machines often include 2 sizes (4.5kg or 9kg capacity) and charge 300 – 500 yen per load. Put in your clothes and close the lid, and only then insert coins as the washing will start immediately, lasting for about 30-40 minutes. Careful to not get confused with the dryer machines that look similar. They are often stacked on top of each other and charge about 100 yen per 10min of drying. Make sure you insert the coins to the correct machine! Finally, some machine are washers and dryers all in one, in which case the price will be higher.
- Shoes machines: some laundries include washers and dryers specifically for shoes. Perfect if your travel sneakers got a bit smelly 😉
- Waiting for your laundry to wash, you can either sit on benches provided, or go out shopping or on other errands. If you take too long and the laundry is busy, you may find that someone put your clothes into a laundry basket – but you are unlikely to have any other problems.
To help you read anything written on the machines, here’s some typical vocabulary:
How to find coin laundries anywhere in Japan
There are many coin laundries in urban areas, and apparently the number just keeps growing! They are usually located in residential or shopping areas. You can easily find one by typing “coin laundry” or コインランドリ into your search engine or map. If you are on a road trip, download the Michi Japan app which will enable you to find coin laundries, even offline.