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Home Sweet Home

Many folks complain about housing in ultramodern Tokyo. Well, I hate to brag, but I have come across an unbelievable little place with none of those cumbersome concessions to "modernity" that some apartments are burdened with these days.

Back to the land, people. I mean, air conditioning, really. It is quite pleasant and cool now, and if you are going to pay all that money to go to a sauna anyway, just wait for summer! You can sauna the nights away for three full months in lovely, concrete-encased Tokyo.

And then there's the kitchen. Who needs one? My cooking is more often dangerous than edible anyway. Just relieves me of more clutter. Simplify, simplify. And the bathroom? Never really cared much for them. Cleaning, mildew, water leaks-a headache all around.

The purity, the unrefined simplicity of this living space pokes fun at "multi-purpose" quarters. Washing, sleeping, eating, all in the same place, has confused modern man. Sadly, I am forced to accept electric power as a concession to living in the 21st century. But the lack of a bathroom or kitchen is a mere bonus to my chateau au naturel.

Despite all these charms, it's the design itself that truly draws people to this prime piece of real estate. It seems that the master who composed this symphony in wood pulp managed to do it without using one single right angle. Probably no ruler either. Plus, it seems that the very walls and floors are engineered to lean several degrees off center as the estate ages. True art masquerading as run-down low-budget housing. The subtlety! It is a jest, an architectural jab at Tokyo technocrats.

I would describe the room in more detail, but I don't know what shape it is supposed to be anymore. At one time, it might have been squarish. The doors all meet their hinges in sort of an approximate way, and the floor is, for lack of a better term, lumpy. Forget cubicles constructed of flat, featureless planes. The entire room is tipped to one corner (for ease of cleaning). Each of the four wall surfaces is a roiling, hilly landscape of cost-effective yet attractive tofu-colored paper. The tatami floors are equipped with soft patches, meant to simulate marshland, I think. It's a magnificent expression of the natural world.

Despite its refusal to compromise form for practicality, this "building" stays miraculously erect, although every time a truck goes by the entire structure shimmies and sways like a treehouse in the wind. Call me crazy, but I think it's kind of romantic. When the woman I have invited to my room suddenly leaps into my arms, fearing that the Big One has hit Tokyo at last, I just laugh my big booming laugh, say "Tut, tut, dear," and try to extricate my foot from the hole it has punched through the floor.

Overall an artistic triumph, a landmark that dwarfs any Lego-based construction heretofore. And they say the housing situation in Tokyo is tough. Ha! I am filled with joy.

Many thanks to Adam J. Sorkin for this Rant.

Metropolis Online
381: The Crisp Linen Suit Syndrome
Unbearable heat and crisp linen suits
380: Smile
Smile when you see another foreigner
379: What sign are you?
When signs start to complicate life
378: Off with the gloves
Battle of the readers
377: Stop before you shop
Stores that scare away gaijin
376: Home sweet home
Modern housing in Japan?
375: Nihonjinron
Theories of Japaneseness and insecurity
374: Plastic bags
Do we really need them for everything?
373: Doctor knows best?
A scary visit to a Japanese hospital
372: Don't forget the finger wagger
So you've never complained about Japan?
371: A-choob tale
The Sneezing Salaryman
370: The gaijin language snob
Dare to cross his path
369: Nihongo
One man's struggle...
368: Making sense of Roppongi
Why do I keep going back?
367: Hateus Japanus Expatricus
Great bar bores of the world
366: Plants and animals
Darwin's turning in his grave
365: No more groping - for now
Women only train cars
364: Man's best friend
Pets have it rougher
363: In praise of Tokyo taxi drivers
A good ride all around
362: The Big Boot Brigade
Masters of the oversized-shoe
361: The case of the missing garbage cans
Where art thou o garbage can?
360: Ramen for the soul
Japanese chicken soup
359: Revenge of the nerds Part II
Geeky guys with hot girls
358: Little old ladies
Grandmas packing a punch
357: Starbucks sanctuary
Stop the Starbucks insanity
356: Pet name problem
My sweet little... carrot?
355: Unclean Jeans
Jeans McNasty
354: My chosen profession
Lindsay Nelson's the name, English teaching's the game
352/3: Merry Christmas... sort of
Merry and not-so-Merry Christmas in Japan
351: Last temptation of rice crackers
Breaking big bills the hard way
350: Revenge of the nerds
Gaijin girls are just jealous

ISSUES 300-349
ISSUES 250-299
ISSUES 233-249