Urawaza Review
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Times were pretty tough back in post-war Japan. Food and household supplies were pretty scarce, and the Japanese people had to learn to get by with what they had. They often had to experiment a bit to find money-saving ways to use common household items. And that’s how urawaza—a Japanese word for secret lifestyle tricks—became popular.

In Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks from Japan, Lisa Katayama shares more than 100 ways to “do everything better.” This simple, straight-forward, and charmingly quirky little book is divided into seven chapters that cover everything from beauty tips to laundry shortcuts. Each page offers one urawaza—presenting a common problem and its solution and offering a brief scientific explanation of how it works.

While you may have already heard of some of the tips in the book, you’re sure to find plenty of surprises along the way. For instance, did you know that you can use mustard to soothe an achy back? Or that you can fix a scratched CD with toothpaste? Urawaza will also teach you how clear up your complexion, how to make your hair and nails shine, how to clean up spills and stains, how to jump start your car without those cables, and how to wash your windows using newspaper.

Though some of the urawaza included in the book require items that you probably don’t have around the house (like shochu, a Japanese liquor, which is supposed to help cure a sore throat), most use items that are readily available. The urawaza are often surprisingly simple, too—not to mention practical and money-saving. And, well, they’re just plain fun to try.

Sure, you can run out to the store to buy any kind of cleaning product. You can pay someone to give you a manicure or a facial. You can toss out those tiny scraps of soap or coffee that’s gone cold and bitter. But it’s a whole lot more fun (and even entertaining) to try out some of Katayama’s ingenious little tips. They’re like magic tricks that help you clean your house—or do your laundry. And, as an added bonus, you can save a few bucks in the process.

To conclude the book, Katayama also offers a few tips for discovering your very own urawaza. It requires a bit of thought—and plenty of trial-and-error—but once you do a few science experiments at home and discover your own little tricks, you’ll be sure to impress and amaze your friends. But even if you don’t feel like experimenting with your own household items to come up with your own urawaza, you’ll definitely find some great new tricks in this clever little book.

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