Kabi-Killer (mould remover)

Why does this diminutive spray bottle epitomise the daily ritual of washing here? You will find a Kabi-Killer lurking somewhere in every apartment you enter. Its grip on the market makes it a virtual monopoly: something you also see with Kirei Kirei (clean clean) – almost the only hand-soap brand you will ever find by a Japanese sink.

The Japanese bathroom is typically a small wet room, and entirely coated in a utilitarian white plastic. It is an excellent use of very limited space, but arguably only practical if you are dutifully dedicated to hygiene: without sustained cleaning, the design is highly susceptible to mould.

Such almost-obsessive cleanliness is a key (self-)defining feature of life in Japan, both spiritually and physically. Just as you must partake in a washing ritual before entering a shrine, so you will be ‘invited’ to wash or clean your hands upon entering a Japanese house or restaurant: and that is of course after taking off your shoes and covering your dirty socks with slippers. To defend something so fundamental to Japanese society, there can be no room for using a gentle and competent ‘Meister Proper’ or ‘Mr Clean’ once a week: only annihilation on a daily basis will do. And so the number one cleaner of this otherwise peaceful and gentle country is the martial Kabi-Killer.