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Year-end Cleaning at Innovative Language Tokyo Office!

Today, we bring you another blog post from Motoko, lesson creator, host and Office Party Planner! Motoko will be sharing more bilingual posts on our blog, so check back often and leave a comment!

Hey everyone. Motoko here! I’d like to talk about our year-end cleaning event, called Ō-sōji(大掃除) in Japanese. Most of our staff had questions about why people in offices did cleaning themselves instead of hiring cleaning staff. But this process is very significant for the year end in Japan.

As you see from its kanji, this is the biggest cleaning season and takes place at the end of the year. It has its origin in a Shinto event called Susuharai (煤払い), in which monks and people cleaned their houses to purify them and welcome the god/kami called Toshi-gami (歳神様 or 年神様) on new year’s day. In other words, Ō-sōji was originally a ritual event. The god, Toshi-gami, is believed to bring people and also their houses happiness and luck each new year. People traditionally clean their houses together and prepare for new year’s day. They believe that if the house is dusty and dirty, the god won’t come. (Japanese gods tend to like nice and clean places!)

In order to invite happiness and luck to the office, some of us formed a group: Team Ō-sōji. We had a one-hour cleaning session in the office. To be more eco-friendly, we chose to use dusters, zōkin (雑巾), to wipe everything off. You can use one of these almost forever just by washing and squeezing it.

[photo1: Our powerful weapon: マイペット]

[photo2: Clean dusters after the cleaning ]
Clean dusters after the cleaning

After the cleaning, we of course went to a meal to reward everyone for their hard work.

[photo3: Salt can be one of the good sauces. Simple is best! ]
Salt can be one of the good sauces. Simple is best!

(Nov. 2012)

   Innovative Languageのオフィスを大掃除

 「大掃除」の漢字を見ると、「大きい」「そうじ」だということがわかりますね。年末に盛大にそうじすることなんです。大掃除は「煤払い(すすはらい)」という神道の行事がはじまりだといわれています。「煤払い」では人々がお寺や神社、自分の家を掃除して、清めます。お正月に歳神様(としがみさま)をお迎えするためです。つまり、大掃除はもともと儀式的な行事だったのです。歳神様は神道の神様の一柱(はしら, counter for gods)で、新年とその年の幸をもたらす(持ってくる)と信じられています。日本人はみんなで掃除をして、新年を迎える準備をするのです。もし家が汚かったら、歳神様は来てくれません。(日本の神様はきれいなところが好きな神様が多いです。)
 オフィスに幸運を招きいれるべく、イノベーティブのボランティアでチームを作りました。一夜限りのチームの名前はチーム大掃除です。 一時間位オフィスを掃除しました。環境のことを考えて、道具は雑巾(ぞうきん)を使いました。洗ってしぼればいつまででも使うことができますからね。