LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Japan is giving away unwanted houses

Tokyo – VIJAY SHAH via LUCY DAYMAN and Culture Trip

While finding a home at even an average price is next to impossible in the big cities of much of the developed world (London, New York etc., I’m looking at you), Japan is making things a least a little bit easier for aspiring homeowners. Over there in the Far East, they are practically giving away abandoned houses for free, according to travel and culture site Culture Trip.

Some towns in Japan have started doling out residences for free, and in the very nature of town-hall bureaucracy, have divided the types of homes they are distributing into two categories.

 

The first category covers vacant homes, or akiya in Japanese. These are houses that have been abandoned, left vacant and are usually in dilapidated condition. Currently on the islands there are over eight million properties nationwide being abandoned to the elements, with concentrations of akiya predominant in large cities like Tokyo, according to a 2013 government report. About a quarter still have owner-landlords who do not bother to sell up or maintain their properties. Due to culture and superstitions, many of these properties have been left unwanted due to suicides, murders and other deaths occurring in them, which puts off local househunters uncomfortable with the lingering presence of an unfortunate soul’s passing. Demographics also play a part in the glut of unwanted homes Japan is facing, with the expensive cost of living putting off young families from moving away from their parents or rented accommodation and also Japan’s rapidly ageing population.

Unable to sell to locals, many town councils are now forced to give akiya away for free to stop them attracting drug addicts, squatters and wild animals, and to hold back urban decay. Some towns have started offering subsidies to attract potential homeowners. They now also offer online ‘akiya banks’, a sort of Gumtree for busted-up housing, with prices started from zero yen (yes that’s 0円! – bargain!!).

The second category of Japanese housing ‘on the house’ (well, technically heavily subsidised, but still very cheap) is found exclusively in the town of Okutama, on Tokyo’s western fringes. Okutama has unveiled a cheap rent to own housing scheme geared towards young families priced out of the Tokyo metropolitan market. For a monthly rent of 50,000 yen (£345), families can rent a whole house, which will pass to their ownership after a period of 22 years. There is no need to take out a mortgage or pricey housing loans, and the daily commute to Tokyo is only 1 hour and forty-five minutes (one-way). The Okutama houses are all brand-new, well-built and fully fitted, but you must be under the age of 43 and have junior school-age children.

If you do have money to splash, then fear not, you can buy an entire island off the coast of the Mie Prefecture, near Osaka, for less than the cost of an average 1-2 bedroom home in London. Now to learn Japanese, develop a taste for sushi and wave sayonara to your local overheated housing market!

SOURCES:

Sherrie Bachell/Facebook.

“Japan is Giving Away Abandoned Homes for Free” – Lucy Dayman, culture trip/The Culture Trip Ltd (8 November 2018) https://theculturetrip.com/asia/japan/articles/japan-is-giving-away-abandoned-homes-for-free/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=link_japanhomes&fbclid=IwAR3t9mf53U8TQHNsly6w5rPVXUa2oG2Wvl_xg3oOAledtuNURT34SzI_Udo

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Japanese architecture” – Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_architecture

 

Advertisements

OUTLASTING THE ENERGIZER BUNNY: US researcher creates stronger batteries with cheap materials

Houston – VIJAY SHAH via noticiasdelaciencia.com and AgroAlimentando

Batteries are one of the most important elements of our technologically driven society. We rely on them to energise everything from children’s toys and torches, to cars and lorries, yet often they can be the bane of our lives too. Batteries can have their drawbacks, such as catching on fire, running out too quickly, leaking, and performing poorly in wintry weather.

Recently, researchers led by Dr. Yan Yao at the US’ University of Houston have discovered that manufacturing batteries from a new and inexpensive class of materials may help solve the problem of troublesome lithium ion batteries and the like.

 

Yao and team used quinones, a type of chemical organic compound derived from petrochemicals which are easy to obtain and cheap. These recyclable materials were converted into a stable anode compound, which can be used in the manufacture of water-rechargeable batteries. Water-chargeable batteries contain water-based electrolytes that carry current easily, but unlike conventional batteries, do not corrode. Until recently, these kinds of batteries were only really good in the laboratory environment, as their short shelf life made them impractical for situations where replacing the battery regularly is inconvenient, such as in heavy machinery. Despite their short lifespans, water-rechargeable batteries, also known as aqueous-rechargeable batteries are much safer and are more robust.

The main problem with previous models of water-rechargeable batteries has been their anodes, one of three parts in a battery, that is negative when the battery is discharging, and then switches to a positive charge when the battery is being charged up. The anodes in these previous models were intrinsically structurally and chemically unstable, which means that the battery was only efficient for a relatively short period of time.

Yan Yao and the researchers used quinones, which cost as little as $2 (£1.54) per kilogram. They discovered that anodes made from quinones were effective in both acid and alkali batteries as well as newer water-based models using metallic ions. This diversity of usage means that Yao’s technology could be applied to any battery setting for any technology, including for devices not yet invented.

The quinones also help batteries work at a wide range of temperatures, which gives Yao’s batteries an advantage even over other existing aqueous rechargeable battery technology, which still underperforms in cold conditions.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Alejandro Shammah‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/aleshammah

“Baterías con vida más larga gracias a una clase de materiales baratos” – noticiasdelaciencia.com via Agroalimentando – AgroA http://agroalimentando.com/nota.php?id_nota=7753&utm_content=buffer2de86&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Duracell battery AA type” – Anton Fomkin, Flickr (19 November 2008) https://www.flickr.com/photos/antonfomkin/3046002213

 

SUITS ME, SUITS YOU: A mail-order company for Asian clothes

By Vijay Shah

Here at the Half-Eaten Mind, we receive our fair share of junk mail through the post. Clothes charity leaflets, double glazing, letters addressed to ‘The Occupier’ imploring us to put our modest terraced up for sale. And takeaway leaflets. We get a lot of those here. One morning after breakfast, when I wasn’t feeling particularly peckish to begin with, I was about to leave for the day job, when I noticed this yellow and red piece of glossy paper jammed in the duster of the house letterhole. Here we go again, another damn pizza leaflet. I’ll just have a quick gander then bin it. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a leaflet advertising something that even I, or anyone else I know for that matter, had never seen advertised to sleepy pyjama-clad customers before. The leaflet was for a mail-order company specialising in south Asian fashion.

Now I’m half-Indo-Mauritian, so I know a fair amount about Asian fashion and clothing. Lenghas, churidars, Punjabi suits, dupattas, and sarees. Mmmmm, sarees. Gaudy, bright, multicoloured, shiny, sparkly, sequins, gold thread, traditional, modern. A childhood spent being dragged from clothes shop to clothes shop by mother through Green Street (one of the UK’s premier shopping spaces for South Asian foods and clothing) and having to dodge podgy aunties at parties and festivals meant that I was on-point with all that….But this leaflet shattered an illusion I had, that Asian clothes were pricey. How could something that complimentary and beautiful be flogged off on the cheap?

The Suits Me leaflet. (c) photo: V. Shah/HEM

The company behind all this is “Suits Me”. The name doesn’t strike you as being what you’d expect for a Asian fashion outlet. Clearly whoever christened it spends a lot of rainy evenings huddled on the sofa watching The League of Gentlemen. It does sound posh though, and that ties in well with their emphasis that quality…and looking your best costs less. I say, old chum!!. Suits Me bills itself as “the Leading Asian Mail Order Company in the U.K. and Europe”, with eleven branches scattered over the country. Glasgow, Bradford, Manchester, London and Birmingham have offices and warehouses. They offer almost too-good-to-be-true savings, with 84% slashed off the cost of ladieswear, 54% off suits for the guys, and a whopping 96% reduction in price for their jewellery line. And as any self-respecting Asian shopper knows – we love discounts.

Here are some handpicked examples of how good their savings are:

  • A dark-blue short sleeved women’s kameez with Paisley & vine motif reduced from £22.00 to just £7.99.
  • A wine red rustic-style saree originally sold at fifty quid, going for only £11.99
  • A much cheaper light yellow saree with silver embroidery dropped from £17.00 to £7.99
  • Pure white men’s kameez suit halved from £14.99 to £7.99
  • Kids’ kameezs and churidars (dresses) for under a fiver.
  • Earrings for as little as 60 pence a pair.

While their offerings may not be as glitzy and as fashionable as clothes bought from specialist saree shops in places like Leicester or Upton Park, they are great for wedding party bulk-buys or that occasion when you need something traditional/formal/good to wear but are a bit short on the dough. They also offer Western clothes like maxi dresses as a sideline. Suit Me’s website is updated with the latest fashions and they have a 24-hour hotline that is the cost of a local call in Great Britain. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter too.

I am going to keep that leaflet somewhere safe. Could use a couple of ‘fly desi guy’ kameezes soon 😉

http://www.suitsmeonline.com/

MAIL ORDER LINE: 0845 8 676767

DISCLAIMER: HalfEatenMind has not been being paid by Suits Me or any affiliate to produce this article. The article is written purely for the sake of information. We don’t believe in selling out.