Tuesday, January 09, 2007


My Japanese refrigerator and I have been communicating for some years now, as is the case with various other appliances around my mountainside house, but once the devices and I got into our ongoing dialog I sort of forgot the original purpose: energy conservation.

Up here we don't need air conditioning in summer, since the forested mountains above and the lake below take care of that; in winter we heat with a woodstove, so built our house with an open loft upstairs, the workspace at the front of the loft and the rest divided into three rooms that will heat in winter if we leave their doors open, though even in winter I prefer to sleep with the door closed and the windows open.

When we're downstairs, in winter the low table in front of the woodstove is the family gathering place. At bath time, we all share one ofuro full of water (no soap in the tub; and unlike the link photo of the conventional modern style ofuro room, ours has subdued lighting and is walled, ceilinged with cedar wood, with a big window on the upmountain forest). We use haramaki and layers of clothing for physical fine tuning. We were thinking of energy when we built the house, but once you get into the routine it becomes none other than ... routine. And routinely costs only a few hundred dollars (and a lot of physical exercise outdoors) per winter.

I've posted here before about various aspects of conservation, but became so used to heeding the dictates of my refrigerator (when it speaks, it is always correct), following the commands of my rice cooker and acting on the communiques of other energized devices, I'd lost somewhat the fresh eye of the formerly resource-rich expat and hadn't realized how pervasive energy conservation was here in the Land of Wa. Until I saw this article in the NYT, which makes it all sound sort of like the revolutionary vanguard Japan actually is...

The article's journalistic crypto-opinion phrases, like "
obsession with conservation" and "keeps his family huddled in a single heated room during winter" make it sound like this is all imposed perforce, almost to an irrational extent, but it's nothing of the kind; Japan's ancient tradition is to be space/energy conscious, as everyone on earth was, once...

We haven't got one of those newfangled home fuel cells yet, but that's next, after our old kerosene-fueled on-demand water heater gives out.

w/thanks to treehugger

No comments: