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ORAC
27th May 2005, 04:53
The Times: Thinking inside the box: how to deal with noisy husbands
From Leo Lewis in Tokyo

HUSBANDS are such a nuisance. They hog the family computer, watch television at nerve-grating volume, clutter up every flat surface with their hobbies and mess up a room with their very presence. Now a Japanese company thinks it has found the solution: lock up the monster in a soundproof wooden box.

Yamaha has come up with the Avitecs MyRoom, a 2.5sq m (27 sq ft) den that can stand in the corner of the average-sized lounge and perform — albeit on a cramped scale — the functions of a study, cinema and garden shed. The noisiest of activities is inaudible to the outside world, and even if the inside is a tip, the mess is scarcely visible through the thin strip of frosted glass.

It should come as a relief to the harried Japanese wife, who is in for a nightmare time as a huge number of men — the first wave of the postwar baby-boomer generation — are due to retire next year.

For around £3,000, presumably paid by the salaryman whose wife seeks escape from him, MyRoom has a range of options depending on its intended purpose: it can be rigged up with a desk, a surround-sound speaker system or the sort of low workbench favoured by Japan’s legions of model train, robot and calligraphy enthusiasts. A tatami-matted version is available for those wishing to give their box a traditional Japanese feel.

The potential market for MyRoom, which comes in three colours, is huge because so few Japanese homes are large enough to have the sort of spare room that could be used as a salaryman’s lair. The problem has become worse in recent years because a growing number of Japanese in their twenties and thirties are choosing to live at home as so-called parasite singles. Their decision to remain under the family roof has shattered many a parent’s dream of converting the children’s bedroom into a hobby shop or study.

Yamaha’s timing is highly significant because of the impending retirement of the baby-boomer salarymen. Housewives up and down Japan, who have grown used to the serenity of daytimes without their noisy, smoking, hobby-obsessed husbands, are now desperate for ways to maintain the tranquility.

Shinji Yazu was one of the early buyers of MyRoom, and uses it to watch DVDs and listen to music as loudly as he likes when he gets home from work. His chief concern, though, is that his wife, Naomi, has realised that the sound- proofing works two ways: if she can beat her husband to it, the box makes the perfect escape from their two children.

Yamaha, one of the world’s biggest makers of musical instruments, came up with the idea for MyRoom after working for 20 years on technologies for soundproofing rooms for those who want to practise the piano without enraging the rest of the household. The company, though, must bear some of the responsibility for the housewives’ more recent headaches. It launched the EZ Trumpet — an electric version of the traditional trumpet that is remarkably easy to play and specifically aimed at retiring men hoping to recapture their youth with the help of a raucous musical instrument.

Other companies in Japan are rubbing their hands at the prospect of next year’s mass retirement, particularly manufacturers of small- scale agricultural equipment who predict a sudden sales boom as seniors fill their twilight years with the popular hobby of rice and vegetable cultivation. A spokesman for Honda said that since launching its Salad range of home-use agricultural equipment in 2003, the company has not been able to meet demand.

Rollingthunder
27th May 2005, 05:08
Hey a shed, an indoor shed.

ORAC
27th May 2005, 05:13
Get Apple to build one with a built in Mac and music centre and call it the ibox..... :)