Storage space that won’t break the bank

In Japan, finding a house or apartment in the city can be difficult and expensive — not to mention finding a place that has enough storage space for all your stuff. If you’re not entirely happy with what your home has in the way of closets and so on, one way to solve the problem is to rent storage space elsewhere.

A good option is Hiroie, which is different from other storage services in that all the handling of stored boxes can be done online. You can store your belongings for ¥500 per month (for up to five boxes) or sign up for a premium plan with monthly fees starting at ¥980. Premium plans can be used to store things such as golf bags or suitcases — items that can’t fit in a box. There are some other minor additional costs, such as a ¥105 handling fee per box and ¥700 for shipment.

Beginning this September, the ¥500 plan is free for three months.

Hiroie: www.hiroie.jp

Getting deep into Japan

Deep Japan is a useful site offering free information and advice for visitors to Japan.

Deep Japan is a new English-language website serving up free content to help foreigners enjoy their visits to Japan. There’s a range of interesting information and practical advice, such as “Unique foods you can enjoy in Tokyo,” “How to ask to use the bathroom at convenience stores” and “Ways to reserve a ticket to a kabuki show.”

The information is provided by a network of senpai (senior) foreigners already living in Japan, or by English-speaking Japanese people. At one time or another most of these senpai were new to the country, so they have a good idea of what kind of questions first-time visitors might ask. At the time of launch there were already 100 registered senpai, and the network is still expanding. For those wanting to contribute as a senpai, there are a few prerequisites to register — for example, you have to be age 20 or over and live in Japan — and once registered you can win prizes for the most popular advice.

Deep Japan: www.deepjapan.org

Sony’s laptop and tablet hybrid

Slimline and light, Sony

Sony’s ultra-slim 2013 summer model Vaio Duo 13 is gradually gaining popularity. On price-comparison site Kakaku.com, the new laptop initially ranked low at 151, but within a month after release, it was in the Top 10 hot-selling rankings.

One of the reasons for its growing popularity is its prolonged battery life, which is said to go as long as 18 hours, making this PC especially suitable for heavy usage on the go. The hybrid laptop has a 13.3-inch display that can be slid with one touch to overlap the keyboard, conveniently transforming into a tablet. The Vaio Duo 13 is powered by fourth-generation Intel processors and weighs only 1.3 kg. The black-and-white model comes with a price tag of about ¥190,000.

Sony: www.sony.jp/vaio/products/VD321/

Keeping a Magic Guardian close

You can keep track of your keys, wallet or even pet with the Magic Guardian, a device that warns you if you  move too far from the things you don

No one likes to lose things but even when we’re being extra careful, details sometimes slip our attention and items get mislaid. To help us find lost objects, electronics manufacturer Chinon has released a solution called Magic Guardian.

This tiny device is 26 mm in width and 38 mm in height and is designed to prevent you from being separated from things in the first place.

When the distance between your tracked belonging and your phone goes beyond 2 meters (can be set up to 15 meters), the guardian emits an alert sound. The dedicated Magic Guardian iOS app also uses Bluetooth to let you keep track of where things on a map for up to 50 meters.

In addition, the device doubles as a handy remote control for taking photos or videos with your iPhone. Magic Guardian can be purchased for ¥5,775.


Cookpad goes English

Cookpad has launched its English site, with more then 1,500 translated recipes.

Japan’s largest user-generated recipe portal, Cookpad, launched its English version on Aug. 5. The most popular recipes from the Japanese site have been translated into English, and at the time of launch there were more than 1,500 available. The Japanese portal originally came online in 1998, and it now has 20 million monthly visitors and more than 1.5 million recipes.

You can search for recipes by ingredients or keywords. More people around the world are familiar with Japanese cuisine, and the number of Japanese restaurants overseas has more than doubled since 2006. By using Cookpad, you can now cook and serve more authentic traditional Japanese dishes, no matter where you live. The English version of the site can be viewed from a PC, tablet or your mobile.

Cookpad: en.cookpad.com

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