Leave it to the Japanese, the same folks who invented** the transistor radio, to come up with a multitude of ways to miniaturize their lives and save valuable space. "Livin' Large"? Not here, buster!
Japan isn't quite as tiny as it looks on the world map, snuggled up right beside big ol' China, but this nearly California-sized country is home to over 125 million people: that's three & a half times Cali's population!
What's more, quite a lot of the country is mountainous, forested and so on, yet the place (well, most of it) hasn't been paved over into some kind of oriental New Jersey.
How do the Japanese preserve the natural beauty of their land while managing to live prosperous lives packed shoulder to shoulder on subway trains, in ramen restaurants and just about anywhere in overstuffed Tokyo?
By taking a page from Steve Martin's book... Let's get small!!! Here are 10 of the most ingenious ways the Japanese have gotten with the program and gotten small:
10) Tiny Houses Only Mouses Could Love
Tiny Japanese House
OK, "Mice", but then shouldn't the plural of House be "Hice"? English can be very strange... but I digress. Japanese homes (happy now?) have often been likened to overgrown rabbit hutches, albeit rabbit hutches equipped with an abundance of neato high tech devices.
Tiny homes are no surprise, really, considering the legendary land prices in some Japanese cities - especially Tokyo. Rooms are measured by how many straw mats (tatami) will fit inside them.
Usually, it doesn't take too many - unfortunately for those in the tatami biz.
9) Tiny Bathrooms with Multifunctional Toilets
Space-saving Toilet with Faucet
I stayed with friends in Japan once and when the time came to use the facilities, was I ever shocked... the bathroom , while spotlessly clean, offered barely enough room to hold the toilet and a small standing space in front of it. I thought that if the house had a Ladies Room, it would be even smaller.
Anyway, although the room was barely the size of an average American broom closet, it did have one redeeming feature: the toilet tank had a concave top upon which perched a gooseneck faucet.
Upon flushing, the tank would refill itself through said faucet, giving you about a minute to wash up before the tank filled and the water stopped. I left the tiny washroom greatly impressed - not to mention, relieved. (image via Hangzhou Lovin' )
8) Tiny Home Appliances to Fit Tiny Homes
So you live in a tiny house - you can't fill it up with regular-size appliances, now can you? Through the miracle of proportional sizing, even a really small Japanese house can feel, well, not so terribly tiny if you stock it with equally tiny appliances.
Most Japanese air conditioners, for instance, are designed to cool only the room they're installed in. And take this tiny home humidifier... though anyone who's suffered through a stiflingly sticky Japanese summer would say a humidifier is the LAST thing one needs.
Winter is a different story, however, as tiny, thin-walled Japanese houses can get mighty dry.
Simply fill an average 2-litre soda bottle with water and invert it onto a teeny tiny humidifier (an adventure in itself, I'm sure), and you'll soon be singing "Turning Japanese" by The (moist) Vapors! (via Weird Asia News )
7) Tiny TVs... I Mean, REALLY Tiny TVs!
Miniature Japanese TV
Miniaturization may not have been invented by the Japanese, but it's arguable that they've perfected the concept. I mentioned the transistor radio, and there's no need to mention the Sony Walkman - oops, just did. This, however, takes miniaturization to a higher - make that lower - level: actual functioning TV for dollhouses. Sure, go ahead and laugh if you must. Yes, I know dolls can't watch TV, but that's beside the point. A dollhouse is a house, for dolls, and it must be furnished. To meet this requirement, Japanese toy company Takara is selling 1.5 inch screen TVs made for them by Sharp Corporation.
Tiny Dollhouse TV
The tiny LCD TV's are controlled from a panel installed outside the dollhouse. You can adjust the volume and even change the channel... turn on "Tiny Toons", please! No way, Barbie, I'm watching "Valley of the Dolls!" (via primidi.com ).
6) Good Things Come in VERY Small Packages
Tiny is as tiny does, as Forrest Gump might say, and the best way to save space is to (duh) just make things smaller. Witness a prime example: what may be the world's tiniest tube of toothpaste.
There's barely enough in the miniscule tube to brush your teeth once (unless you're a hillbilly, I suppose...). It's the ideal choice for those considering a stay in one of Japan's tiny capsule hotels. (via John Labovitz's "travels & ponderings" )
5) Capsule Hotels, or Morgues for the Living
Tiny Capsule Hotel Room
Capsule Hotels are the poster kids for Japanese Tinyness Syndrome.
The name says it all: a hotel with cubbyhole-like "rooms" you can rent for the night... if you can stand being filed away in a slot like an unclaimed accident victim. Stick me in one of these drawers and I won't be surprised to awaken next morning wearing a toe-tag!
One might imagine the acommodations on a future mission to Mars being much like those in an average capsule hotel. Adjustable lighting, AV systems, alarm clock... all the comforts of home, except of course room to stretch.
And yet, capsule hotels are fairly popular. It can't be denied they save space; just stack those salarymen like cordwood! (image & info via Japan's Capsule Hotels )
4) Many Tiny Minicars Save Mucho Money
Tiny Suzuki Car
The compact Japanese cars sold by Toyota, Honda et al in the USA don't look so compact on the congested streets of Tokyo. In fact, they're far above the low end in their home market.
"Kei" cars - no relation to Lee Iacocca's boxy Chryslers of the early 80s - are a distinct Japanese phenomenon
Their existence is a response to legislation that bestows tax breaks on cars less than 11 feet long and with engine displacements of 660cc (40 cubic inches) or lower. Read more about these mighty mites in my article, "Suzuki Cervo & Chevy MW Minicars Prove Size DOES Matter! "
3) Tiny Pets Save Space... When There IS None
Tiny Ant Farm
The aptly named "Antquarium" is pretty much what you might think: an aquarium for ants. Yes, Japanese love their tiny Yorkies, Chihuahuas and other minuscule mutts, but entry-level Japanese "apatos" are too small for even midget pooches.
Ants are the answer, and not one of your full-blown ant farms numbering thousands - the average Antquarium holds just six. Six ants. If that don't make ya feel small, I don't know what does!
Although made in Italy, the 3,150 yen Antquarium has caught on big in Japan, selling over 70,000 units since being introduced in 2003. Talk about low maintenance, the sextet of six-legged beasties tunnel into the translucent aquamarine gel and eat the stuff as well.
You don't even have to pick up their teeny tiny poop! (via Japan Times )
2) Staying Small by Eating Tiny Portions
Tiny Food Portions
Ever notice there are very few obese people in Japan? It's not that they've all been kidnapped off the streets and forced to become Sumo wrestlers - at least, we hope not - but in general Japan is a slim, trim country.
Why is that... could it be a government conspiracy intended to safeguard the nation's infrastructure from a flood of fatties? Maybe... but a more likely explanation lurks on the shelves of your typical Japanese supermarket.
Right off the bat you'll notice that the food is expensive. Any tourist who's been hit with a hotel room service bill for a $4 cup of coffee and an $8 melon slice (raising hand guiltily) can attest to that.
But no, it goes beyond that... the portion sizes are minuscule. Super size it? Not bloody likely... people in Japan are thin because they can't afford to be fat - and it takes too much #$@%& time to open each tiny package! (via 37signals.com )
1) If You've Gotta Live Small, Have BIG Fears
Big Bad Godzilla
Living in an overcrowded country surrounded by miniaturized everything takes alot of adjusting to if you're not going to blow a gasket or two along the way. Yet the Japanese seem to be coping rather well with the pressures.
My theory is, one can learn to love Small if one learns to fear Big. Exhibit A: all of those lovably cheesy Japanese monster movies of the Fifties and Sixties.
You know, the ones with those classic scenes of Godzila and The Monster Of The Week duking it out in downtown Tokyo, knocking buildings aside with the swipe of a paw, tail, tentacle or what have you. These images, endlessly repeated and burned into the minds of generations of Japanese, have engrained these words to live by: "Big Bad, Small Good!" (image via Rodan's Roost )
And there you have it, ten examples of how Japan scores big by staying small. Call it The Bonsai Effect, if you like. It's worked so well that the government is now worried about the declining birthrate. Go figure... on your tiny Japanese calculator!
- Source: http://inventorspot.com
Date: 1 Jan 2009 | Author: mesmerX | Category: News
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