The days are getting longer and so summer is nearly upon us. Usually, during summer many of us would be exploring new areas of Japan but this year proves different. With the outbreak of COVID-19, people are asked to stay at home to curb the spread. Here’s how to make the most of your stay-at-home time おうち時間 (ouchi jikan, time at home).
How Would You Like to Spend Your spare time in your house?
Are you living alone, or with family? First, let’s take a look at some ways to enjoy your time at home in various different situations.
An Independent Soul? Ways to Enjoy Being Home Alone
Maybe if you are living alone you want to use this time to learn or discover something new. Maybe you want to do something you have always been leaving on the back-burner or you “never have time for”. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Arts and Culture
Many museums and art galleries are now offering virtual-tours for everyone at home from their websites. Some include the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Musée du Louvre, the Sistine Chapel, and the Museum of Modern Art. There is even an app Google Arts & Culture App that consolidates over 1,200 museum and gallery exhibitions for your viewing pleasure. You can even zoom into the works and take expert-guided tours.
Museums and galleries are not the only places with virtual tours. Cure your wanderlust by traveling virtually to these locations:
Or rather than art, maybe literature is more your thing. Get stuck into your TBR (To Be Read) pile through Kindle Unlimited (980 JPY per month, free for the first month).
Now might be the perfect time to get stuck into spring cleaning. Cleaning and sorting out old cupboards and tidying the place up Japanese style with Marie Kondo will keep you busy and you’ll feel more relaxed in your home. With all your new
Courses and Skills
If you want to use your ouchi jikan to learn something new there are several sites that offer online courses. A popular one being Coursera which offers thousands of courses from major universities, many are free but you can upgrade to enroll in online degrees or receive certification. edX also features courses created by universities, udemy has a new student deal and for programming why not try out Codecademy. While sites like edX offer language courses Duolingo has a fun game-like interface App that is easy to get hooked on.
Maybe now’s the time to try some complex, long-winded recipes. Maybe look up some Japanese recipes, it’s fun to use new ingredients you don’t usually use. Or if you are itching to travel why not travel through your kitchen and make dishes from countries you’ve been wanting to visit. Set up a home cafe, try your hand at some baking, brew some delicious tea or coffee and enjoy them together using your favorite crockery. There are plenty of recipes that can be made in a toaster oven or even a rice cooker. You could go out on your balcony, or place a blanket on the floor and you have your own at-home picnic.
I don’t know about you, but I have never spent so much time in the bath than the past few weeks. Long baths with salts, oils, and bath bombs you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Face masks or hair treatments might also be good, you could even make your own. Japan is the home of random health gadgets. Get that face roller out from the bottom of your cupboard and start rolling.
How to Still Connect with Friends From Your Home
After your cleaning, cooking, and virtual sightseeing, maybe you want to catch up with some friends?
Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to watch Netflix with your friends at exactly the same time and voice your reactions through the chat function.
Zoom has recently become popular in Japan as more companies ask their employees to work from home. But the good thing about Zoom is its versatility, it can also be used to host online parties with friends. One of your party will need an account to host the event (free accounts can host up to 100 participants for up to 40 minutes).
Popular overseas, Houseparty, after you make an account, allows you to hang out with your friends online and even play games.
Ways for Families to Spend Time
While children can also benefit from the museum and gallery virtual tours, some zoos are also offering tours and live webcams to view the animals such as San Diego Zoo and the Smithsonian’s National Zoo which also offers a downloadable activity pack for children to do while looking and learning about the animals.
Asahi Soft Drinks has created an online learning space for children with a virtual factory for children to understand more about Mitsuya Cider’s manufacturing process, printable card crafts, and recipes (Japanese only).
If your child starts to get tired from a technology overload maybe get out the dusty board games or jigsaw puzzles, or build a pillow fort!
Move Your Body and Clear Your Mind
With less opportunity to get our bodies moving in the outside world we have to look in our homes. A simple way of keeping active may be setting an alarm to move every hour, useful when working from home too.
Some Ideas to Try Out
The Nike Training Club offers free body weight, yoga, and training workout videos that can be done in your home without equipment. At the date of this article’s publication, NTC Premium is temporarily free to all members.
There is a wealth of workout videos on Youtube.com, specializing in all categories. Popular at the moment with Japanese friends are Marina Takewaki’s dance and hand clap workouts that can be done in Japanese mansion buildings without disturbing the neighbors downstairs. Popular in the UK now is “P.E. With Joe”, hosted by Joe Wicks, The Body Coach. Every weekday at 5 pm Japan time Joe streams a live 30-minute workout aimed at children (but still very challenging and fun for all ages) on his channel.
Yoga and Meditation are great ways to move your body and calm your mind. Classes can be found for free uploaded or live on Youtube (a long favorite is Yoga with Adriene), and a lot of yoga teachers are now providing free or donation-based classes on Instagram live as studios are closed due to COVID-19. There are also subscription-based studios with online classes you can access for a fee. The Insight Timer App has an extensive library of free meditations you can listen to whenever you like.
Life Hacks to Avoid Going Out
Ways to Save Money
Staying at home might mean you have managed to save some money from not going out to restaurants every day. But to others it might be more difficult if you’ve been unable to work from home, everyone’s situation is different. If you are in need of some pocket money then maybe you would like to check out Guidable’s CLUCHI service. Is there a part of your home culture you are particularly proud of and would like to teach? With CLUCHI you can share your culture by teaching Japanese people through video. Current classes vary from lessons on history, language, yoga, and cookery so there’s something for everyone!
Have you planned out your stay-at-home Summer this year? We hope this article gave you some ideas for you to try out at home. If you have any more suggestions we would love to hear them in a comment to this article.