It gets colder everyday now. At night we use heavy blankets and an electric carpet undeneath our futons. It gets more difficult to air out the futons in the winter, with the rain and cloudy, cold weather. The futons, light mattresses, are very easy to clean. After removing the bedding to be washed, they are taken outside and pounded on for a few minutes to get rid of dust and mites, and then left in the sun for a few hours to air out. It feels so good to sleep in a clean futon! I will never forget what it looks like underneath a traditional western mattress when I've moved them after months...
In the winter, it also becomes more difficult to wash clothes, because we, like most people in Japan, do not have a clothes dryer, instead hang them up in the sun. It is much better for the clothes, and saves on electricity, but is not a very good technique in the winter.
Hmm... I guess while I'm at it, I'll mention some things I like about my Japanese home. This is not a conclusive list; there are a lot of differences, some I like, some I don't like.
The toilet. When you flush, the clean water comes out of a spout on the top as the tank empties, so you can wash your hands after flushing. As you wash, it runs into the tank. I have a bar of soap on the corner, and a clean towel there.
The hot water heater. You push a button on a controller, and the water heater turns on. It takes seconds to get hot water anywhere in the house, and you can select the temperature from the controller. On top of that, it uses kerosene which is really cheap.
Tatami and hard wood floors only. This is pretty standard in Japan. If people want carpets, they buy a carpet to lay down. The tatami is used in the bedroom. It is a grass mat. It stays cool in the summer, just cool in the winter, and is very easy to clean. Liquids don't easily permeate it, and suface dust is easily vaccuumed. Hard wood floors can be found all over the states, but it seems that usually they are so expensive, although I did see some bamboo HdWd floors that are much cheaper, on exhibit at the Green Festival in San Francisco some years ago.
Thinking of houses and the way they are built reminds me of all the houses that I've lived in over the years. They were all great. I can't think of one that I didn't like at all. They all had their own special layout, and the places fit into their surroundings as though they were trees that had grown their, in some odd way. And best of all, they all inspired some experience or another to look back on. Where have you lived? What did you like about that place?