You know how your grandmother always seemed to have some home remedy for curing a cold or fixing something around the house? She used things that seemingly had nothing to do with the problem at hand, but with her magic touch, the problem disappeared. In Japan, those secret tips and shortcuts are known as urawaza, and it's a common way to make use of things when resources are tight. Lisa Katayama collects a number of these tips and shares them in her book Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks from Japan. While not all the tips will be applicable to everyone (nor are many of them specifically Japanese), you'll likely find two or three things that will make the short book worth reading.
Contents: Healthy Hints for Sick Days; Amaze Your Friends; Beauty School 101; Household Hacks; Behind the Cupboard Door; Laundry Shortcuts; Street Smarts for the Great Outdoors; How To Discover Your Own Urawaza; Acknowledgments
Katayama starts off with a short history of urawaza, noting that it became necessary after World War 2 and the destruction of their country. These tips and techniques allowed them to get the most use out of extremely limited resources, and they were passed along and shared when discovered. The concept became mainstream in the late 1990's, and the advent of the Web made urawaza a hobby and fascination for many around the world.
Each of Katayama's tips has its own page that lists the "how to" title, the dilemma that is faced, the solution to the problem, and a brief explanation as to why it works. While it's nice to find a solution to an issue, I think I enjoyed the explanations more than anything else. Those pieces change the solution from "magic" to common sense, and it also spurs you to think of how else that might be applied to other situations.
I think my favorite was how to get rid of beer foam. She recommends putting a drop or two of olive oil into the foam, as the oil molecules have hydrophobic ends that attach to the bubble proteins to pull them out and reduce the foam. The interesting part is that you can also touch your finger to the foam surface and get the same result. And NOW I know why when I do that to my diet soda, the foam rapidly dissipates!
Obviously in a book of tips like this, you won't get a 100% personal applicability ratio. You may also find that for whatever reason, the tip just doesn't work for you. Be careful when you try something for the first time. But for the handful of tips you try that *do* work, you'll get value from the time spent reading Urawaza.
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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TOYKO ART BEAT There is more to Urawaza, however, than these tricks exposed. The Tokyo-born and bred Katayama delves into the history of the craft and contributes anecdotes from her own experiences, meaning readers come out knowing that much more about life in the megalopolis. Her witty, down-to-earth style makes for a fun read while illustrator Joel Holland adds a comic book touch, and just a hint of irreverence.
"Armed with urawaza like these, you'll never need a store-bought fix again." ReadyMade magazine