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Goin’ Japanesque!

15 Japanese Lifehacks: Obaachan no Chiebukuro

Little tips that have been passed down the Japanese generations to make everyday life a little easier, a little more convenient. The Japanese call these “Obaachan no Chiebukuro” (Granny’s bag of wisdom). They are little pointers and advice that are useful in everyday life, perhaps in modern terms could be called “lifehacks”. Today, we will introduce 15 lifehacks from Obaachan!



1. How to polish leather shoes

To polish leather shoes, use a pair of old pantyhose + shoe polish. Even if you do not use any shoe polish cream, using the stocking alone can be quite effective. Because the material of the pantyhose is very soft, you do not have to worry about scratching the surface of the leather. Also the static helps remove dust from the shoes. You can reuse old pantyhose and keep your leather shoes in a good condition for longer. Very economical!

Another tip is to put 2-3 10 yen coins in your shoes and it helps to remove odor.


2. How to clean silver jewelry

When your silver jewelry starts to tarnish and looks a little dull in color, you can get it to shine again by polishing it with toothpaste. If you use an old toothbrush or pantyhose, you can really get into the fine crevices. Please be careful though if the material is sterling silver or silver plated, polishing can cause damage or cause the silver coating to peel off. If you’re not sure, start with a small spot test.


3. How to clean little particles of broken glass

Oh no! You’ve broken a plate or a glass cup! Little particles of glass that are too fine for a broom or the vacuum cleaner fly everywhere and can be quite dangerous. You can clean this up by making a little ball of putty out of flour and a little bit of water. Press the ball against the floor to pick up the fine particles of glass as they will stick to your little ball of dough. You won’t cut your hands because you won’t be touching the glass.


Food and Cooking


4. How to make sour tangerines sweeter

Method 1 Throw them up in the air.
When you throw the tangerines up in the air, the impact of when they fall slightly bruises the fruit. The sour components of the tangerine are used up as the tangerine tries to repair the bruised area. With the sour components gone, the tangerine tastes sweeter. The idea is you have to bruise the tangerine a little bit, so you don’t necessarily have to throw them, you can give it a little squeeze. Just 2 things to be careful of: First is the obvious, don’t throw or squeeze it too hard. The second is that though the effect of this method has a relatively instantaneous effect, some of the flavors are lost in the process.

Method 2 Put the tangerines under sunlight.
Putting the fruit under sunlight increases the rate of respiration. During the respiration process, the sour components are used as a source of energy. The sour components are used as energy and depleted. Therefore, the tangerine becomes sweeter. This has to be done over a course of 2- 3 days so this is a method that takes some time.

Method 3 Putting the tangerine in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
Heating the tangerines in the microwave has the same effect as putting them under sunlight and increases the rate of respiration, making the tangerines sweeter. Just don’t forget to put little cuts in the peel otherwise it could explode inside your microwave! You would also have to wait for the fruit to cool down before you eat it.


5. How to stay tear-free when chopping an onion

Method 1 Heat it
Cut it in half, wrap it in plastic wrap, heat it in the microwave, then cook

Method 2 Cool it
Put it in the fridge or freezer for a little while before cutting

Method 3 Use lemon juice
Squeeze some lemon juice over the blade of the knife before cutting

Method 4 Wear Sunglasses and a mask
You may look like a really suspicious person with a sharp weapon, but this is effective.


6. How to get the smell of garlic off from your hands

Your fingers smell like garlic after you’ve chopped the garlic…and you can’t get rid of the smell no matter how many times you wash it with soap. In that case, try using some vinegar.

Another tip. Do you know how to remove the thin skin of the garlic?
Put it in a small bowl like a rice bowl, cover it with another small bowl and shake it! A couple of shakes will do the trick.


7. If you’ve added too much salt in your soup

If you find that you’ve put in too much salt in your soup, don’t worry. Place a quarter of a peeled potato in your soup and the wedge of potato will absorb the salt like a sponge. Make sure to remove the potato before eating.


Health and Wellness

8. Sore throat remedies

Daikon radish + ginger
Grate a daikon radish with its skin. Take 4 tablespoons of the juice from the grated daikon, juice of ginger and honey, add 2 parts hot water to make a daikon+ ginger drink.

Juice of Nashi (Asian pair)
Grate 1 whole nashi, strain it through a cloth and heat it for a hot nashi juice. It’s effective with some honey as well.

Grated leaf of aloe
Take 3 to 5 cm of an aloe leaf, wash it thoroughly and grate. Add about a cup of warm water to drink.


9. Fever

Egg Sake
Mix 1 egg and 1/2 tablespoon of egg and stir well. Add 1/3 cup of hot sake to this mixture mix. Make sure that the sake is not too hot because you don’t want the egg to cook.

The next one sounds a little funny.

Cabbage helmet
This can be useful if your child has a sudden fever. Take the outer leaves of a cabbage, dampen it with water and cover it over the child’s head like a helmet. By the time the leaf is dried, the fever should have gone down a little.


10. Diarrhea

Take the flesh of umeboshi (sour plum), add shoyu (soy sauce) and juice of grated ginger. Pour bancha tea over it and drink it before the meal or on an empty stomach.

FYI bancha (番茶) is a Japanese green tea harvested from the second flush of sencha between summer and autumn.


11. Hangover

Green tea infusion
The bitter tannin of the green tea acts as a hangover remedy. The diuretic effect of the tea helps to rid your body of the alcohol. Add 10 grams of the green tea leaf in 600 milliliters of water over medium heat and boil until the water is reduced to half to infuse.

A ripe persimmon is effective for curing a hangover.

Grated Daikon
Grated daikon has long been handed down as a hangover remedy.

Broth of freshwater clam
Freshwater clams have well balanced amino acids that are good for liver health. It is said using it after it has been frozen once increases its nutritional factor.


12. Sunburn

Skin of watermelon or melon
After you have eaten the fruit, cut the skin in smaller pieces. Hold the peel with the inner side touching the affected area and massage in a gentle circular motion. It’s easiest if you do it in the shower because you can rinse it off in the shower once you’re done. The vitamin A and C in watermelons and melons help soothe and recover from the sunburn.


13. Swollen mosquito bites

The juice of a ripe cucumber on the affected area can help soothe the swelling.



14. How to make cut flowers last longer

Cutting the stem diagonally, under water is known. If you add a little bit of sugar, then it can make the flower last longer. For an even longer effect, try watering down a sports beverage (i.e. Pocari sweat) and placing your flower in it.


15. How to unshrink a sweater

Add about 15 grams of hair conditioner in a bucket of water. (Important tip: there needs to be an ingredient called Amodimethicone in the product). Soak the shrunken sweater in the mixture for about 30 minutes. Take out any excess moisture by using the spin-dry function on your washing machine, or you can sandwich it between towels and roll it in a tight roll to squeeze out the moisture. Then, gently pull the sweater into shape and dry. It is said that the conditioner relaxes the fibers in the sweater, allowing you to shape the sweater. However, be careful as the effects could vary depending on the types of fibers used in the sweater as well as the content of the hair conditioner. Please try at your own risk!

So there you have it. There are some that you want to try right away and others that make you laugh. Tips from granny are basically a whole bunch of lifehacks! Please do try them and let us know how it works!

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About the author

Kimi is a Japanese living in Tokyo. She has spent half her life living overseas in New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong. Her hobbies are traveling, eating, drinking and beautifying. She enjoys yoga and has a daily goal of running 6.5 km to offset her love of beer and junk food.

View all articles by Kimi