Sorry about the delays. I keep meaning to take my notes of my China trip in December out from my Moleskine notebook, but I never seem to have the energy. I'll do it soon, I swear, but it looks like I'll have to set up a separate section to do it, instead of in the main blog. Watch for it soon.
Meantime, life goes on, and I saw something last weekend in Yurakucho that has me salivating.
Some of you reading this probably know how how much I like products from Muji, the No-Brand Store (those who don't might recognize it from references in William Gibson's Pattern Recognition.) I've often said that I'd love an entire apartment furnished in Muji -- and I'm slowly closing in on that goal, as I'm beginning to get rid of the crappy old furniture that came with my place and replaing it with new stuff from Muji -- but it looks like I can do better than that.
I dropped by the big Muji store by Yurakucho station last weekend to pick up some items -- the aforementioned furniture replacement project -- when I came across something new in the big open area at the front of store: a model home. Muji, it seems, is now selling their own houses -- the entire basic 2-story building, placed on whatever lot you have. Naturally, I had to check it out and sneak a few snapshots, and just today I returned with my co-worker Sonja (she and her husband -- well, only her, really -- are in the market for a mansion or house).
As fellow expats from the San Francisco Bay Area, we both recognized the basic structure as essentially a loft (not a new concept in the US, maybe, but new here) designed to fit Japanese-sized house lots and Muji shelving/furniture dimensions. It has an open atrium with the second level wrapped around it with floor-to-ceiling windows lighting up the main room. This model home had a kitchen centered around a stainless-steel island with an induction-heating range and ceiling hood: positively gigantic by Japanese standards and continent-sized in comparison to the pathetic kitchen arrangement inside my place. The upstairs had no interior walls, so you'd need curtains or shelving units to maintain some privacy, but nevertheless I was hooked.
The cost is certainly reasonable: the base price is about ¥16 million (about $152,000 US), and with fixtures about ¥19 million (about $185,000 US). Of course, I'd need the land to put it on, but I kind of wonder if I couldn't buy the whole enchilada, pack it into a shipping container, and send it back to the US to be assembled there. And fill it with Muji furniture! And Muji appliances!.
Sorry, I'll calm down. Sonja (who doesn't share my love for All Things Muji) was intrigued but not excited, and may drag her husband down to look at the thing. I myself still have no long-term plans to stay in Japan, but damn, this is so tempting. I wonder if I could talk my landlord into tearing down my old building if I'll finance its replacement with a Muji house?
For pictures of what the house looks like when photographed by a professional, check out http://www.muji.net/infill/se/index.html (Japanese only, I'm afraid, but you could always run it through Babelfish or some other translation website).