No, this is not the navigation console for the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek, the 47th Generation. This is the control panel for my washer/dryer, a National NA-VR1100, which was installed along with all my rental furniture and equipment two days ago.
My daughter and I arrived in Osaka on Sunday and moved into our freshly refurbished apartment on Monday. I hardly know where to start with the explosion of experiences from the last few days, so why not get my toes wet, so to speak, with the washing machine? My daughter has been begging me to interpret the buttons for her, so that she can have some clean clothes, and I’ve been avoiding that intimidating panel. This morning, though, she said, “Let’s do this thing,” and I said okay.
On Monday, the mover gave me a brief training on the washer and other devices. I was so relieved when he told me that it has an “omakese” (おまかせ) mode. A “just give up and let me do it all for you” mode. Sweet.
I walked my daughter through all the buttons (look, Mom, no dictionary!): child lock, reuse of bath water, water position (“Huh?” she asked…um, water level, for different size loads, I guess), wash-rinse-spin, dryer, hot water course, (just plain) course, disinfecting mode, deodorizing mode, night mode, when-you’re-busy mode. We only have a cold water connection, which is standard here, so at least we can ignore the hot water settings.
After working through it all, we decided to run with the “I give up” mode. My daughter measured the detergent, smelling it to see what Japanese scent her clothes would have. Power-on, mode select, START!
The clothes spun around. We watched them. We watched the glow of the timer lights.
“Something doesn’t seem right,” said my daughter. “It doesn’t sound right.”
“Maybe it’s just different,” I said. “Appliances are quieter in Japan.” Then I remembered that you have to turn the water on and off every time here. I reached over and turned it on. Water rushed in with that lovely sloshing sound that really isn’t much different on either side of the Pacific.
My daughter and I looked at each other and collapsed over the washing machine laughing.
I give up.
P.S. This eco-friendly washer/dryer was designed for the blind, the elderly, those in wheelchairs, and who knows who else. However, someone in a wheelchair couldn’t even get into my apartment in the first place, much less maneuver all the little steps up and down from one room to another, and even much less ever hope to fit into my capsule-sized laundry/bathroom sink area. I’m just saying.