Since entering Japan I’ve come across the expected amount of cool gadgets – which is to say, many.  But although I was prepared to enjoy robotic sushi trains and dinosaur hotel employees, I didn’t realise there were lots of everyday appliances I never knew I always wanted.  In this ongoing series, I’ll explain a few of them.

Hot water dispenser

Simple enough to explain – it’s a water reservoir that sits on my counter.  I keep it filled with water, and it boils the water and then keeps it at whatever temperature I set.  (Usually 90°C)  I press a button and hot water comes out.  That’s it, that’s the whole gadget.

This has changed my life.

First, I can have tea whenever I want.  That may not sound like much, but the difference between “Well, if I want tea in 20 minutes or so, I guess I should put on the kettle” and “I want tea.  ::sips tea::” is HUGE.

Second, now that I can have tea whenever I want, I have been free to explore all kinds of lovely hot drinks.  Japan has a lot of instant hot drinks, many of which are actually healthy, and the ones that aren’t are still delicious.  I’m currently obsessed with a ginger yuzu “tea” powdered drink which is just AMAZING.  And for Christmas my husband bought me Persona 5 tea – Crow flavor.  (If you know, you know.)

And last, instant ramen (of which you can buy a dizzying array)?  ACTUALLY INSTANT.  Game changer.

Some days you can explain my life in slippers.

Take days where I wash clothes.  First thing in the morning, I head into the freezer of a hallway.  (It’s the end of winter – spring is definitely coming, but it isn’t here yet.)  I live in an old Japanese house – not old enough to be interesting, just old enough to be inconvenient.  It has no insulation.  There are single pane windows, and the whole place is made “to breathe”.  In the main rooms, we have ductless heaters, but the hallway and bathroom downstairs has none of that.  In the winter it freezes and in the summer it burns.

So I wear slippers, and a fuzzy house coat.  I make my way to the bathroom/laundry area, and switch to bathroom slippers, which are resistant to slippery wet floors and easy to clean.  The washer has just finished running, so I pick up a laundry basket and open up the lid.  Some Japanese homes have combination washer/dryers, but they are very slow and mostly disliked.  We don’t have that.  Most Japanese line dry all their clothes, either outside, in front of the heater, or in the shower if they have a nice shower heater (we don’t).  We are actually lucky/Western enough to own a separate, gas dryer.  So I start to pull out wet clothes.

I take out about half, watching carefully for Japanese clothes that won’t stand up to gas dryers.  The washer holds up to 9kg, but the dryer is only 5kg, so I usually split a load of wash into two dryer cycles.  I hoist the basket, switch into my house slippers and pad to the genkan (a recessed foyer) to switch into outdoor slip-on shoes.

Oh, did I not mention?  The only place we could setup our gas dryer with proper hookups and ventilation in our old house…was outside.  So we have a working dryer on a stand in our carport area.  With a tarp for extra protection from the elements.

It’s cold, so I put on my coat over the house coat, switch to shoes, unlock the front door and head outside.  I head down the stairs and around the corner to the dryer, lift the tarp and pop open the door.

The dryer is filled with clothes.  I’d forgotten my husband threw a load in last night and apparently never took them out.

I can’t set the wet (or dry) clean clothes down outside and I don’t have a basket that isn’t full to carry the dry clothes anyway.  Sigh.

So I go back inside, switch to house slippers, walk to the laundry, switch to bathroom slippers, dump the wet clothes back in the washer, switch to house slippers, head to the genkan, switch to shoes, go outside and pull all the dry clothes into the basket, come into the genkan, switch to slippers, bring the clean clothes upstairs to put away later, go back down to the laundry with the empty basket, switch to bathroom slippers, pull out the wet clothes again, switch to slippers, go to the genkan, switch to shoes, and finally put the wet clothes in the dryer.

I start the dryer (avoiding the always tempting button with a picture of a man with a big nose and a smile), pull the tarp back over and head back inside.  I put the empty basket next to the genkan so I remember that there are clothes in the dryer (I have a system!) and put my coat in the closet and my slippers back on.

And now it’s lunch time.