Japan Data

“Ōsōji”: Half of Japanese Households Still Do Traditional Year-End Cleaning

Lifestyle Family

Although less common than it was even in the 2000s, half of Japanese households still do a traditional ōsoji (big cleaning) in late December.

The cleaning equipment company Duskin conducted a survey in late January 2023 asking men and women aged 20 and over about year-end cleaning. Of the 4,160 valid responses, 51.8% of households had carried out the traditional year-end cleaning, or ōsōji, as 2022 came to a close. With no change in the rate from the previous year, this remained the lowest level since the survey began in 2005.

Out of the past 19 annual surveys, the highest rate had been 71.7% at the end of 2008, approximately 20 percentage points higher than now. While year-end cleaning used to be a major activity, more recently nearly 50% of people are opting out.

Percentage of People Doing Year-End Cleaning

By type of household, those that had children under 18 years old rated higher for doing ōsōji at 60.3%, while those with members aged 60 and over had a lower percentage with 47.8%.

Year-End Cleaning by Household Type

Asked which day they did their year-end cleaning, 31.1% of respondents said December 30, 29.3% gave December 29, 20.9% answered December 28, and 12.7% did theirs on New Year’s Eve.

At 28.4%, people most commonly spent “one day” cleaning. However, while the most popular answer for men was “one day” with 36.6%, the most popular for women was “two days” at 26.8%. The top reason women gave for spending more days on cleaning was “I wanted to do it gradually so as not to strain myself” (37.1%). In contrast, men mostly said they “did it systematically in one day” (38.7%).

The area ranked most difficult to clean in the house by 21.2% was “kitchen hood/extractor fan.” This was the fourteenth consecutive time it had come top. It was followed by “kitchen,” “bathroom,” “windows/screen doors,” and “toilet.” An increase was seen in the number of people hiring professional cleaners to do the job, including the daunting task of the kitchen hood area, rising from 2.4% for 2012 to 8.6% at the end of 2022.

Most Difficult Areas to Clean in the House

For households with married couples, while 90.9% of husbands were satisfied with their wife’s contribution toward the year-end cleaning, only 68.8% of wives felt the same about their husband’s efforts, a gap of more than 20 percentage points. The issues highlighted by the wives included “he says he like things neat, but doesn’t do anything,” “he looks at his cell phone or watches TV while I’m cleaning,” and “he takes it for granted I will do the cleaning.”

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)