Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks from Japan


4.0 out of 5 stars Ancient Japanese secret, huh?

Everyone knows how to cure the hic-ups, or to get wine stains out of white clothing right? There are all sorts of little household tricks and tips handed down via word of mouth, or from a helpful friend or parent in a time of need. The Japanese term for these is “urawaza”, a word with a sly feel to it meaning a little secret that only you know about, something you discovered about a product that the producers didn’t intend for you to know. Its main use is with videogames, referring to cheat codes left in by programmers who never intended them to become public knowledge.

This book is full of urawaza’s, little “cheat codes” for common household objects like potatoes and old sales receipts, things that would normally never be used for more than their intended purposes. For example, magically clearing up a stuffy nose by shoving the white root section of a scallion in your nostrils, or rubbing a little egg white on your glasses to prevent them from fogging. Each tip is accompanied by a short explanation of why the process works, showing the molecules and process involved that accompany the magic.

The strange thing is, the tips actually work. I haven’t tried all of them, but the ones I have given a shot work just as advertised. You might feel a bit strange at first rubbing a cut potato across your bathroom mirrors to make them fog-free, but you can’t argue with the results. Want to know how to keep your bathwater from going cold using only orange peels, or how to make your dull hair glossy? “Urawaza” has what you need.

The only disappointment with this book is the lack of any real Japanese connection, aside from the title. There are a few little asides at the start of each chapter talking about the author’s personal history or a few cultural notes, but that is about it. There was a good opportunity to include some Japanese vocabulary for each entry, just a few words here and there relating to the subject, and make this a language-learner along with its helpful and fun tips. Unfortunately they didn’t go that route, but if you aren’t studying Japanese and just want a cool and useful little book, then that isn’t really an issue.

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