Nanbu Houki – Wa-Youhuku broom

The Nanbu Houki (“Nanbu Broom”) is not only used for brushing clothes or cleaning up floors. Kiyokatsu Takakura explains, “Wa-Youhuku broom, one of our clothing care products, can be used on floor, carpets, sofa, auto seats, bed, and key boards etc. It can clean up any kinds of fabrics or surface. Cashmere, wool, silk, or even leather, you can remove dusts from only with single brush, without any damages given. Choose your favorite size from small to large, to smoothen the texture of your belongings.” He added, “You should only be careful about this. When ear tips get dirty, please wash and dry the part. Or otherwise, it may get moldy. Because it’s made from natural material.”
Being listening to the talk and looking at the Nanbu Houki lined up in warehouse, the product has began to attract me and I really wanted to have the long broom with a long handle. There is no tatami in my apartment but carpets and wooden floors. Dusts often fly even just after carpets have been finished hovering. Worse than that, the vacuum cleaner bites snags in my carpets and tangle them around its suction opening. This makes me annoying every time, when I witness the snags torn off from the carpet. If I could smooth the carpet textile itself, along with removing the dust, it would be better than buying new carpet every several years. Besides, it will be cheaper and more comfortable to live in perfectly cleaned up room.
Kiyokatsu continued, “We have this type of small size products as well. You can put this on your hand”. And he showed us the small Nanbu Houki especially made for keypads on computers. They still has frizzled ear tips with a price range from 2500 to 5000 yen. I wanted to buy one of the products, but had only 1000 yen left in my wallet. It was embarrassing thing. There were no banks or convenience stores providing cash points in their neighborhood. Kunohe village is another world of the earth for an urban resident like me, who has been relying on the plastics in 24 hours. I felt somehow ashamed about my status.
Our conversation naturally moved to the life in Tokyo where I live in, and then Kiyokatsu began to talk about what he had experienced in London, the capital of England. He had visited London in January, 2013, for the event called “Hyper Japan” where he displayed Nanbu Houki. I asked him first, “Well, can western people understand our broom as a cleaning tool? They don’t have any similar, I suppose”. Kikatsu answered, “No, Urayama-san. Don’t you remember? They are familiar with a broom with a witch! I have never doubted that Nanbu Houki can be welcomed by people at overseas!”
As he had anticipated it, the event went successful and the brooms he had brought were caught some Londoners’ eyes. So, Kikyokatsu, in his happy mood, had knocked the door of Harrods, the luxury department store in London. “I am looking for cleaning supplies. Where do you have them?” After Kiyokatsu had asked, the concierge had taken him to the sales floor, where he had found “Dyson and Roomba, the irobot” only. Kiyokatsu further had thought that he might need to check the clothing brushes. He had asked the concierge again, “May I look the clothing brushes too?” It had been undoubted for him that they had Kent brushes displayed on the floor. However the Kent clothing brushes had been not there. The truth he had found that day was that Harrods only dealt with the electrical appliances for the purpose of removing dusts.
I could not believe it when I first heard the story, so asked Mieko Suzuki, a Japanese translator graduated from the London University, to confirm the fact. “Will you check if it’s true?” Mieko sent the enquiry email to Harrods on 21st August. They sent the reply next day saying, “I regret to inform you that we do not sell the Kent clothes brushes in store.” What Takakura told me was true. Yes, it is so regrettable that Harrods now only sells Dyson and Roomba in cleaning supplies corner, besides Kent clothes brushes has been disappeared from clothing care product corner. Does Harrods consider that home electric appliances are enough to take off dusts of our daily life? Dear Harrods, the traditional department store in England, would you kindly answer my question: Can home electric appliance smooth fabrics of coats or suits for ladies and gentlemen in your country?
Being well dressed means straightening up your life. We call it etiquette. I have had manner of life hammered into my head when I was attending the boarding school, Tokyo Metropolitan Akikawa High School. The school was modeled after Eaton College in England. Even today I remember the instruction given by my headmaster. “If you take off your clothes before someone, you are supposed to be insulting him. You loosen a tie not or unbutton your shirt only when you are defeated. You should never forget the dressing manner to respect yourself or to show your respect to someone”. He also said, “You hide your true pride in where no one can see. I don’t mean the back fabric of your jacket but your room kept clean. Your room reflects who you are very naturally. You don’t need much decoration in you room, but keep it simple and clean. A samurai had been developing his sword skill in by doing that. Or otherwise, he would have been killed if had lived in a disorganized untidy room”.
After being taught in this way, I have been brushing my clothes. I can’t really boast of myself as a good cleaner. I, a writer, keep too many books and documents in my study. But they often bring me many fabulous ideas as much as worldly thoughts. I believe that they are necessary in my job, but in some way are working for my room disorganized. Or maybe not, because of an untidy room I am wondering so many things. Yet I do come up with many hints for the story I am writing during this wondering hours. After all, my room is disorganized to some extent that I can cope with in my daily life.
I didn’t replace Kent clothes brush with Wa-Youhuku Broom of Nanbu Houki to satisfy myself, but I couldn’t stand losing a sword fight one-to-one.
Interviewer & Author:Akitoshi Urayama
Photographer:Soudou Kawaguchi



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