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 accommodations 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!
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Japanese Innovations Writer
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(UPDATE: ** To be fair, reinvented and popularized the transistor radio)