Some Japanese Concepts

by 3baid

The following were taken from Wikipedia:

Parasite single (parasaito shinguru) is a Japanese term for a single person who lives with their parents until their late twenties or early thirties in order to enjoy a carefree and comfortable life. In English, the expression “sponge” or “basement dweller” may sometimes be used.

Parasite singles are often blamed for a large number of problems in Japan, ranging from a decline in the birth rate over the economic recession to the increase in crime. Professor Tenki Yamada claims that the “spoiled” women that grew up during the bubble economy are particularly to blame. However, many people also feel that the young adults have no option but to become parasite singles in the current difficult economic situation, having to choose between career and family.

How many parasites do you know of? Would our lifestyle change if prices for land and housing were cheaper? If single women lived in their own homes instead of their parent’s? I’ve known people who lived in dorm rooms abroad and felt better about being in control of their time, space and lives as opposed to living with their parents and being under their supervision.

A tatami is a type of mat used as a flooring material in traditional Japanese-style rooms. Traditionally made of rice straw to form the core (though nowadays sometimes the core is composed of compressed wood chip boards or polystyrene foam), with a covering of woven soft rush (igusa) straw, tatami are made in standard sizes, with the length exactly twice the width. Usually, on the long sides, they have edging (heri) of brocade or plain cloth, although some tatami have no edging.

Unlike wood, marble, or ceramic material, tatami keeps the temperature of the floor relatively warm and has texture that is relatively soft. You won’t hear anyone yelling, “Don’t walk around the house with bare feet, you’ll catch a cold!” or, “Watch your step this floor is hard or slippery when wet” in a home with tatami flooring. That’s what I love about it.

It’s also very convenient and clean since the mats can be replaced or washed individually. In Japanese culture, it’s rude to step on the edges of the tatami. Maybe that’s because doing so damages the fabric that holds the mat straws together.

Fusuma are vertical rectangular panels which can slide from side to side to redefine spaces within a room, or act as doors. They typically measure about 90 cm wide by 180 cm tall, the same size as a tatami mat, and are 2 or 3 cm thick.

Historically, fusuma were painted, often with scenes from nature such as mountains, forests or animals. Today, many feature plain rice paper, or have industrially printed graphics of fans, autumn leaves, cherry blossom, trees, or geometric graphics. Patterns for children featuring popular characters can also be purchased.

Space is meant to be flexible, not rigid, so that it is possible to adapt depending on the occasion or the number of people occupying an area.

In traditional Japanese architecture, a shōji is a door, window or room divider consisting of translucent paper over a frame of wood which holds together a lattice of wood or bamboo. Shōji doors are often designed to slide open, and thus conserve space that would be required by a swinging door.

Conserve space; now that’s an idea. Think of all those unused empty spaces behind the doors in your homes. The kitchen doors, the bathroom doors, the bedroom doors, the guest room doors, hallways, etc…

Futons are the traditional style of Japanese bedding consisting of padded mattresses and quilts. They are designed to be placed on tatami flooring, and are traditionally folded away and stored in a closet during the day to allow the tatami to breathe and to allow for flexibility in the use of the room for other purposes.

There’s that word again: flexibility. Bedrooms are typically rooms for sleeping (it’s a bed room) and not a place for working, studying, playing, watching movies, trying out clothes, or doing the laundry. That’s why people tend to want bigger rooms; they want to use more space to do different things. I’ve seen many homes where the master bedroom has all kinds of sub-rooms within them.

What if you could tuck away your bed and hide all the fixed furniture? You’d have a blank canvas to build or transform the room into whatever activity suited you. I know it’s not practical to have to change the room every so often, but when it becomes as easy as folding fabric, you get to use the entire space to its full potential. One minute, it’s a place to sleep and relax, the next, it’s  a seating area for the friends you’ve invited over for coffee hot chocolate. Like the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind”.

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