One of the biggest challenges many Westerners in Tokyo face is the difference in living footprint. Space is the most expensive commodity in Tokyo, and engineers are always looking for ways to maximize living space. One vital appliance that often gets cut the earliest is laundry machines.
Some apartments (especially higher-end luxury condos) will have a washer in the apartment itself, though rarely a dryer. Most of Japanese people do not use dryers (although it is becoming more and more popular). Fortunately, there are many dry cleaning outlets that provide fully dedicated service from home pick-up and drop-off, professional dry cleaning, laundry, ironing, and alterations.
In this article, we will guide through the tips you should know before dry cleaning and recommend some dry cleaning services to get you started.
Japanese dry cleaners are usually full service, though of course, it differs from store to store. Your local dry cleaner can often be a gem, and good relationships will foster not only a sense of community, but also often better deals and quicker turnarounds.
Since many Japanese office workers are still required to wear a full suit and tie, the most common use of the Japanese dry cleaner is for what they call “Y-shirts”, or your standard white dress shirt.
These include a clean, iron, and starch (though newer locations often go much lighter on the starch than the old guard). These generally cost about 180-750 yen per shirt, depending on the treatment, shop location, and fabric.
You should be paying, generally, about 200-300 yen. Other garments are also of course able to be dry cleaned, though more discernment may be required for big-ticket items like fur coats and very expensive designer items.
They also have a special blanket and futon service for those who can’t use laundromats. Even if you have a washing machine, having them wash, dry, and fold is usually very affordable. They also usually offer basic tailoring and alterations, and some also offer patches for more delicate items.
One service unique to Tokyo (which you might find surprising), is that some dry cleaners will even take your seasonal clothing, clean it, and keep it in storage until it is time to use it once again! This saves people having to keep bulky coats or quilts crammed in their valuable closet space through the summer, usually at a very reasonable price.
While of course, you may still want an English speaking dry cleaner, it’s important to be able to communicate when they have something of yours that you value.
These are some basic phrases that hopefully will help you if you’re stuck trying to get your shirt in time for the meeting. Most Japanese laundry services will take 24-72 hours for your dry cleaning to be finished.
Like we said before, the more often you patronize a single shop, the better your deals will likely be! Punch cards and loyalty programs are far more common than sales-- and while we’re on the subject of sales, beware of the 100¥ Y-shirt clean. There’s a reason it’s one coin.
|I would like these done.||KORE O ONEGAI SHIMASU.|
|How much is this/how much are these?||KORE WA IKURA DESU KA?|
|Please remove the stain on the skirt/shirt.||SUKÂTO/SHATSU NO SHIMI O TOTTE KUDASAI.|
|When will it be ready?||ITSU DEKIMASU KA?|
|Please don’t starch it too much.||NORI WA SUKOSHI NI SHITE KUDASAI.|
Don’t fold it, please.
|TATAMANAI DE KUDASAI.|
Today, Tomorrow, The Day After Tomorrow
|KYOU, ASHITA, ASATTE|
These notes can help you with peace of mind, but Google translate can also be your friend for more specific inquiries.
We’ve included a list of Japanese-speaking chains, (as well as the renowned Rejour for extra special items), just in case you are outside the area that contains most of the English-speaking dry cleaners in Tokyo.
747 offers express service and next day delivery. Business shirts start at 200 yen.
They offer pick-up and delivery, and are a bit more expensive than the average with business shirts starting at 500 yen.
If you are wondering who to trust with your designer clothes, then Takeshi Furuta, who operates a high-end boutique service in Azabu-Juban, of is your man. You will pay a high price, but will have the peace of mind to know that your Gucci coat is in good hands. According to Furuta, ”If you can put it next to a new product and see a difference, then it’s not professionally cleaned.”
The Emperor’s dry cleaners, located right next to Hiroo station. The staff wears white gloves and is extremely careful. Basic business shirts start at 350 yen, with a steeper price for more royal treatment.
From December 2016, Japanese laundry symbols have changed to the new JIS standard and it will be almost the same as the ISO (International Standard) symbol that is commonly used in the world, and Japanese will not be written in the symbols any longer.
Here are some examples of the old Japanese laundry symbols and ISO laundry symbols.
Hand washing :
Hand-washing with 30℃ water | Do not Wash.
High temperature（高）| Medium temperature（中）| Low temperature（低）| Do not Iron
With chlorine allowed | Not Allowed
Dry cleaning | Dry cleaning with hydrocarbon solvents | Do not Dry Clean
Wring gently | Do not Wring
These international laundry symbols have been used in Japan since December 2016. Please refer to this page to understand each symbol and meanings.
You might find it a little more difficult to find English-speaking dry cleaning services, but it’s not impossible! If you have very specific dry cleaning or laundry needs and would prefer an English speaking service, here are some links to websites that provide English services in the Azabu-Juban/Hiroo area. As noted above, they all offer a full pick-up and drop off service and many with monthly billing arrangements. For most dry cleaners, the price of a typical business shirt (listed at the time this article was written) is listed just to give you a basis for comparison. They are also usually on the pricier side, but with most offering full pickup and delivery, it’s a no brainer.
For basic wash-fold service, laundrytown has several locations that can help you get on your way quicker. They offer full pick up and delivery service throughout Tokyo (though mostly the south and east sides), and with 24/7 online ordering it’s never ben easier. The actual website for wash-fold is in Japanese, but this English portal will help!
They offer pick-up and delivery services and can clean household items such as curtains, duvets, table cloths, etc. They also provide clothing alterations. The current price of a machine-pressed business shirt is 280 yen, tax included.
They offer full pick-up and delivery service within Minato-ku and the surrounding area. Average cost of a business shirt is 250 yen.
They offer pick-up and delivery service all over Tokyo, as well as clothing alterations and restoration. Business shirts start at 500 yen.
Flower Cleaning Akasaka accepts anything washable! E.g. clothes / uniforms / kimono's / leather / fur / carpets / futons / mattress / plushes etc. They also offer pick-up and delivery service.
It still may be a daunting task but we hope that this little guide can help you make more informed decisions about how to keep yourself neat and tidy, from designer dresses to soccer uniforms. No matter where you go or what you get cleaned, we wish you good health, happiness, and the joy of freshly laundered sheets on a fall night.
You can use special detergent for delicate fabrics and also some washing nets can be useful. You can also refer to this page How to find the right laundry detergent in Japan.
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