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 HouseOK, "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 TVs 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 TVThe tiny LCD TVs 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" )