Ten Days of Cleanup

Hiroko Houki, the proprietor of the cleaning business, Souji RS, reluctantly agrees to take on a mysterious client who wants her to clear out his storage unit. However, it’s the middle of the pandemic, and Hiroko’s usual recipients of used items—thrift stores—are closed. It turns out some of the items have historic value and Hiroko attempts to return them to various previous owners or their descendants, sometimes with disastrous results. 

Ten Days of Cleanup is a 12-chapter serial story published exclusively on Discover Nikkei. A new chapter will be release on the 4th of each month.

Read Chapter One

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Chapter Two—The Curse of Mottainai – Part 1

While many post-World War II Japanese families were all about discarding old tansu and kimono, my mother closely held to the value of mottainai, that it was a disgrace to throw something away before its time. In other words, as long as an object had not completely disintegrated, she was against throwing it away.

We were from a small town, Minamiawaji, on Awaji island in Hyōgo prefecture. Our family house was an old wood-framed structure that should have been torn down years ago because of termites and its exposure to the elements. But my parents continued to live there, along ...

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Chapter One—The Contract

“Hello, Souji RS. Hiroko speaking.”

I held my cell phone to my ear as I defrosted some natto in the microwave. My 10-year-old daughter Sycamore’s lunch break was in a few minutes and she had 50 minutes before her next Zoom session.

“Are you the cleaning service?” The voice on the other line was male, low without any warmth. He sounded American, which meant he could have been any race or ethnicity.

“Ah, I provide a soul cleansing and past erasing service.” That was the tagline that I had devised after taking a free online branding course.

No response ...

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