Last year, I published a book called Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks from Japan. It's a collection of 108 quirky and (usually) useful life hacks that are meant to solve problems and entertain people. It was inspired by a two-page spread on a Japanese TV show that I wrote in Wired Magazine's October 2006 issue — a couple months after the story came out in Wired, I met with an editor at Chronicle Books and we put together a book proposal, and the rest is history.
Urawaza is about applying nuggets of wisdom passed down through generations to every day problems that we still have trouble solving, like getting wine stains out of a white shirt or showing off to our friends by swimming backwards.
Here are three samples from the book, with accompanying videos made by friends and family:
1. How to clean up spilled egg yolk
Dilemma: The egg was supposed to crack in the pan--not on the floor.
Solution: Sprinkle some table salt on the spilled egg and wait ten minutes for it to soak in, then sweep the egg yolk right off the floor with a broom.
Why this works: The salt dissolves the lipoproteins in egg yolk, which changes its texture from gooey to nongooey, making it easier to clean.
2. How to make a baby stop crying
Dilemma: Sure, the baby's cute. But why won't he stop crying?
Solution: The secret to stop a crying baby lies in making the sound you produce during the mouthfeel stage of wine tasting.
Why this works: When babies are still in the womb, the
noises they can hear are limited to those in the 6000-8000mHz range. The
sound you make when you slosh the liquid behind your lips during wine
tasting takes place at about 7000mHz, reminding the baby of a time when
the world around was peaceful and the whirs and stirs inside Mommy's tummy
soothed him back to a sleepy state.
[Update 4/22/09 - correction in the second printing of the book] Why this works: The sound you make when you slosh the liquid behind your lips during wine tasting reminds the baby of the noises they hear when they're still in the womb.
3. How to prevent body odor
Dilemma: Soap keeps you feeling fresh for a few minutes out of the shower, and deodorant masks the smell for a few hours thereafter, but by the end of the day, your armpits smell like a funky mix of sweat, dust, and fake baby powder.
Solution: A natural deodorant made of baking soda and lemon juice works better than almost any over-the-counter stick. Just dust some baking soda on your pits, rub some lemon juice on top, and pat dry for natural-stink-free crevices.
Why this works: Baking soda absorbs moisture and kills odor-causing bacteria, and the acidity of the lemon changes the pH balance of your skin. Because bacteria don't do so hot in high acidity, they tend not to proliferate in a lemony environment.
You can read more about the book here.
[By Alex] As you can tell, the post above is a guest post by Lisa Katayama. Her book, Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks from Japan (illustrated by Joel Holland) is filled with strange lifestyle tricks and useful techniques that we've come to expect and love from Japan.
If you are an author and are interested in plugging your book for free on Neatorama, let's talk!