interior

The newer, cheaper Kakureya II: The perfect secret fort/box for studying, drinking, or napping

With Japanese housing being as cramped as it is, designating a whole room as a man cave, reading nook, sewing room, or any other sort of area solely dedicated to your hobbies and passions is an unattainable luxury for many people. That’s why earlier this year, we took a look at the Kakureya, an enclosed capsule where you could have a little private me time as you watch movies, listen to music, or relax with some aroma therapy, among other suggestions from the manufacturer.

After all the attention the initial model received, it’s now time for a follow-up, with the Kakureya II, an improved version that offers even more creature comfort at a price about half that of the original.

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Beautiful faces and floors – Five great ways to reuse the water from rinsing rice

While out shopping the other day, I picked up a bag of prewashed rice. The grocery store was having a sale, so it was just as cheap as the unwashed kinds, and I figured, “Hey, there’s no advantage to having to rinse it myself is there?”

But as it turns out, the water left over after you wash the rice, called togijiru in Japanese, is actually pretty useful, as shown by these five ways you can reuse it instead of just dumping it down the sink.

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One IKEA item, two prices: Customers in Korea paying as much as 80 percent more than in the U.S.

It’s a weird quirk of the global economy that sometimes the exact same item can sell for very different prices depending on what country you’re in. For example, in the U.S. Levi’s jeans cost about half what they do in Japan.

As a result, I always wait until I’m taking a trip back to L.A. before I buy a pair of Levi’s. Unfortunately, that’s probably not an option for travelers who want to take back furniture from IKEA, which in Korea sometimes costs 80 percent more than it does in the U.S.

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Three kotatsu-boosting items to turn your home into a toasty fort against winter’s cold

Even though Japan is a great place to live, not everyone likes every aspect of life in the country. Dishes like grilled eel and organ skewers are pretty polarizing, as is the public transportation system, which is clean and punctual, but crowded and shuts down early.

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone, though, who doesn’t love Japan’s heated tables, called kotatsu, so more than a few people will be happy about these three ways to get even more out of Japan’s coziest piece of furniture.

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Clever Japanese pet owners find perfect cat beds…at IKEA! 【Photos】

One of the great things about IKEA is the broad appeal of its furnishings. With understated styling, reasonable prices, and adequate quality, the Swedish-based megastore is the perfect place to find sofas for recent college graduates, dishes for newlyweds, and work desks for telecommuters.

And also, as clever Japanese pet owners have learned, adorable beds for cats.

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Adorable clothespin cats give you a reason to look forward to laundry day

As nice as it is to have clean clothes, few of us especially enjoy the process of doing laundry. But in Japan, where everyone hangs their clothes outside to dry, a couple of rainy days can mean a huge pile of laundry to get through, and it’s not unusual for people to spend a large chunk of their day off doing the washing.

So if you’re stuck at home doing housework, you may as well have some cute company, in the form of these cat-shaped clothes-pins.

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Cute bedside lamp promises to clean the air around you, give you better skin as you sleep

Japanese electronics maker Sharp has announced their latest product – this adorable bedside lamp that emits what they call ‘plasmacluster ions’. No, they are unfortunately not going to be the baby blue and pink beads you see drifting into the air in the illustration. However, these plasmacluster ions supposedly have anti-bacterial properties.

All you need to do is plug in your lamp and it will not only purify your air, but also improve your sleep and the condition of your skin! Now, that sounds like a good deal if it really works.

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Check the weather forecast with a cool gadget that recreates the conditions in your living room

Growing up, I never really bothered with checking the weather report, since living in southern California meant it was sunny almost every day. It’s a different story in Japan, which sees rain in each season. Add in how much walking people do here, plus the fact that everyone hangs their clothes outside, and knowing how the weather’s going to be tomorrow becomes a little more important.

You could get the forecast from the TV news or the Internet, but if you’re looking for a more stylish alternative, a group of inventors have developed a box that’ll recreate the weather of the future, as well as the past and present, right in your living room.

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Three reasons to sleep with a huggy pillow (that have nothing to do with an anime crush)

So today, we’re going to talk about something that has a sizeable cult following in Japan: dakimakura, also known as huggy pillows.

Hey, where’s everybody going? Come back! This isn’t about pillows with covers depicting anime girls in various state of undress (not that such things don’t exist in awkwardly huge quantities in Japan). Instead, we’re taking a look at ordinary, undecorated pillows with an extra-large size that’re designed to be embraced as you fall asleep. Not only won’t you have to hide them when you’ve got company coming over, they’ve actually got a number of health benefits, say fans of non-anime dakimakura.

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Adorable sumo egg cups are here to turn your breakfast table into a wrestling ring

Maybe it’s a result of having lived in one too many apartments with a cramped kitchen, or just a desire to reduce the number of dishes I need to wash, but I’ve never really understood the point of tabletop egg cups. I can’t imagine eating hard-boiled eggs frequently enough, or giving them such prominent billing in my diet, that I’d need to go out and buy specialized kitchenware for them.

I find myself warming to the idea, though, now that someone’s designed egg cups in a way that lets tiny edible sumo wrestlers grace your table.

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Genius dishes can be molded freely to hold whatever you want

I’m not really the most organized person around; my desk looks like someone who hates me with a dark passion sneaks in every night just to sweep papers around and knock stuff over. So I’ve never really had much interest in or need for one of those little random odds-and-ends plates to hold trinkets (the floor does a pretty good job of that, for me).

But, if you are an organized person, have a lot of trinkets or just like having cool stuff around to decorate with, you’re probably going to love these awesome dishes that can be molded into any shape your heart desires and returned to their original state over and over again.

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Cry into your Mega Man cushion while you wait in vain for a new game in the series

Despite the reluctance of video game publisher Capcom to green-light any new titles, there’s a lot to love about the Mega Man franchise, including creative boss battles, catchy music, and tough but fair challenges. The defining characteristic of the series, though, is the ability to acquire the weapons of your fallen foes, upgrading your starting buster gun so that it fires flames, saw blades, or that weird circle of leaves from Mega Man 2.

Mega Man only has a limited number of shots with each weapon, though. Thankfully, he can restock his health and weapon energy by picking up containers called E Tanks during each level. Still, there never seem to be enough E Tanks about when you really need them, so if you’re a trigger happy Mega Man fan, you might want to keep one lying around your living room in the form of this cool E-Tank cushion.

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The tragic final moments of a microbead cushion’s life

There’s something uniquely soothing about microbead cushions. Filled with what feels like countless grains of soft sand, if there’s one lying around, it’s hard to resist the urge to squeeze it. Or lie on top of it. They’re also light enough that you can throw one around the room pretty easily, and in a pinch, they make pretty decent punching bags, too.

Still, there’s only so much abuse they can take, as this sobering snapshot series shows.

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Humidify in style with artsy, all-natural humidifier

Sure, this thing that roughly resembles a boat looks like a moderately gifted shop class student’s midterm project at first glance, but it’s actually a modern humidifier with some cool low-tech miracles happening under the hood. Join us after the jump for a closer look at this cool natural gizmo.

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