Osōji, the big clean-up

When the end of the year approaches, Japan starts cleaning, and a country that’s already as neat as a pin becomes positively pristine. It’s called osōji (お掃除), the big cleaning before the New Year, and you’re supposed to clean every nook and cranny, every corner and cupboard, until it’s spotless. Houses do it, restaurants do it, temples do it.

Yesterday morning I saw a priest patiently cleaning every item in his small temple in Meguro, looking remarkably jolly about his gargantuan task. As I took a photo of some items on the veranda, he stepped into view. I rather like the end-result of the bowls on the wooden floor, and the two socks entering the scene. He wasn’t angry with me; as a matter of fact, I got a big grin.

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