February 19, 2010 at 10:17 pm (Japanese baths and onsen hot springs, Japanese kitchens, Japanese medicine)
… along with plasters and such-like. “Is a Band Aid food??” is the question I keep asking my wife and asked my students when we had this discussion, which in fact started with their question “Why do the British and Americans keep medicines in the bathroom?”
My wife’s explanation is that bathrooms in Japan (and here in Korea) tend to get very steamy and mouldy. Most bathrooms I’ve had in both countries have also not had a conveniently sized cabinet to put them in, maybe for the same reason. The only explanation I could come up with for us Brits putting it in the bathroom is that taking medicine is a private thing that you want to do with the door locked. Anyone know what less privacy obsessed Westerners like the Spanish and Italians do?
There could also be more of a connection between food and medicine in East Asia, most clearly seen in China with its medicinal wines, soups for different disorders etc. Think the practical factors above are probably more important though.
August 25, 2009 at 9:20 am (Japanese homes, Japanese kitchens, Japanese shops)
First, another reason why it is a mystery- countries that have huge fridges usually also buy in bulk, which is very rare in Japan where most household shopping is done on a bike and Costco type shops have never really taken off.
My latest conclusion is that it’s partly to make up for the lack of convenient shelf and cupboard space in the average Japanese kitchen, leading to telling my mother in law that it shouldn’t go in the fridge (Marmite! Shortbread!) leading to complete mystery as to where to put it.
Although I have seen similar things in other Japanese houses, I am perfectly aware that most of my insight into Japan comes from one not especially typical family, so others’ ideas very gratefully received. My previous attempt to explain this is part of Japanese Gadgets and Technology Explained
February 26, 2008 at 11:40 pm (Japan FAQs and SAQs, Japanese kitchens, Japanese technology, Japanese toilets and toilet habits, Japanese Westernization)
When they are combined, they do have a certain convenience and, perhaps more relevant, compactness. Alternatively, it could be a case of borrowings from the west reflecting the level of technology of the time it was borrowed- like the hightech Japanese toilets reflecting the technology that was available at the (much later) time at which they became standard. In this case, perhaps by the time the market would have been ready to trade up to a classier or easier to use version, most cans already had tab pulls. As people don’t often entertain at home, there are also few chances to show off your Philippe Starck corkscrew or electric tin opener