Cold bones clean bum
There is something I've never quite understood about Japan. This country is known for technological innovation but there are so many things that they haven't gotten right. It really messes with my mind. Why, for example, do people insist on freezing in the winter and boiling in the summer? Central heating and cooling have been around for at least 100 years. Somehow it's not being applied to Japanese homes. Insulation, has also been around for good long time and that is also typically not used in Japanese homes. Perhaps in Hokkaido where temperatures can get dangerously low, they may have central heating and insulated homes. However, in Tokyo, those things are rare. It's almost as if it's a point of cultural pride for one to freeze in the winter and huddle under a kotatsu, which is one of those heated tables with a blanket around it. Despite all the advancements around the world in home heating and cooling, most Tokyo homes depend on air conditioners that are only capable or controlling the climate in one room and not the whole house. Since there is usually no insulation, it's a losing battle most of the time. Some homes have heated floors which does a lot better but it's nothing compared to a thermostat on the wall and air moving throughout the entire structure.
Home appliances also seemed to be a bit janky. While refrigerators have advanced to the point of being miniature futuristic space stations, dishwasher technology is lagging behind by decades. What does exist lacks power and finesse unless you pay for a super expensive imported one. It really is much better just to wash the dishes by hand. The electric clothes dryer also is a useless hunk of metal and wires that takes two or three hours to dry a few shirts and a pair of socks. I don't understand why they even manufacture the things in the first place because they are absolutely a waste of time and energy. In fairness, it's been about 10 years since I purchased a washer with the built-in dryer. Perhaps the technology has gotten better, and the thing can really dry clothes now. I am not holding my breath. Overall basic things seem to lack the same power that they have in the US. The vacuum cleaner doesn't suck as hard, the food processor doesn't grind as fiercely, and blenders seem to be wimpy things that barely hold together under the strain of crushing ice. Everything seems to have a much flimsier build quality.
It could be that culturally there are different priorities. Every winter you can hear a chorus of samui desu ne (It’s cold) and every summer you hear atsui desu ne (It’s hot). Maybe if central heating and cooling were modernized, people would run out of things to say to each other. When it comes to washing the dishes maybe Japanese people believe that doing it by machine is a lazy western way of getting the job done. Maybe they would much rather do them all by hand.
Perhaps it's all about the monthly bill. Most of the utility companies charge a crazy amount for water, gas, and electricity. I've often heard people say that using the dishwasher was a waste of water. I also know that if central heating and cooling were installed in every home the gas and electric bill would be thousands of dollars a month. Perhaps it's the utility companies’ fault for stagnating innovation in these areas. It wouldn't be the first time. Look how long it took for us to start moving forward with electric cars.
Perhaps technology is advancing in areas that don't require so much energy. Japan is a world leader in toilet innovations. Commodes here are so futuristic it almost feels like you're sitting in the captain's chair of the starship Enterprise. Having a squeaky clean bum seems to matter a great deal more to Japanese people than staying warm in the winter.
(Since publishing this story a couple of friends have told me their modern houses have insulation. I am not sure how wide spread the practice is but the times have changed apparently)