Photo:Karl Baron on Flickr

5 Grandmother's Wisdoms - Obaachan Life-hacks

Grandmother’s wisdom, or Obaachan no Chie, is a common term used for a certain kind of knowledge that helps us out in our daily lives. The name refers to how these pieces of everyday wisdoms are passed down by generations, and are the kind of advice you would get when you ask a grandmother for help. With certain kinds of the wisdoms, you might also get the impression that only old ladies would give out (and use) these tips.

The wisdoms passed down by generations cover all aspects of our everyday lives, from health and cooking to money saving and item storage. Grandmothers aren’t here to solve the biggest issues, but to help us take care of ourselves with easier and smarter ways.

Here I would like to share a few of my favourite daily wisdoms with you!

#1 Fighting an Early Cold

If you feel like you are catching a cold. Make yourself a negi-miso rice. Take some miso, mix in cooking wine and mirin, chop up some green onion and put them all on the rice. Easy.

Photo: Jun OHWADA on Flickr

To fight a cold, you can also grind up some ginger and add them into hot lemon tea. The tea will warm you up and the nutrition (not sure what kind, grandma never told me) will give your body a boost to fight the viruses! Not to mention, it is also delicious!

#2 Getting Over a Hang-Over

Green Tea
Green Tea. Photo: Aurelian Săndulescu (: on Flickr

There are several things you can try. One wise tip is to drink green tea. It will help you urinate more and dispose of the alcohol in your body quicker. If you are looking to solve an empty stomach too, ripe persimmon and grinded daikon (like the ones you’d put on soba or udon) are said to be helpful too. For those with the ingredients at home, making a quick calm soup will help balance your amino acid and cure your hang-over.

Grated Daikon/Radish
Grated Daikon/Radish. Photo: City Foodsters on Flickr
Ripe Persimmon
Ripe Persimmon. Photo: Bren Buenaluz on Flickr

#3 Recovering from Sunburn

If you enjoyed the summer sunshine a tad too much and got sunburn, save up the watermelon rinds and melon peels to help with this. Cut the good size out of the peels and massage your skin with the inside. The vitamin A and C will help your sunburnt skin cells regenerate. You can do this in the bath too so you can simply rinse the juice off with a quick shower afterwards. This smart advice is both cheap and useful!

Watermelon rinds
Watermelon rinds. Photo: Rebecca Siegel on Flickr

#4 Storing Extra Rice

Have too much left-over rice? Take a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap the rice up into an onigiri shape. Next, throw it into a freezer and simply use the microwave to heat it up for a couple of minutes for some fresh-tasting rice. This works because the moister is maintained in the rice when it’s frozen. Pro-rice-freezing-tips: if storage is an issue in your freezer, shape the rice into flat squares instead. It will also make it easier to heat up.


This changed my personal cooking habit a lot. Nowadays I cook more rice than I need and freeze the extra in the freezer so that on evenings when I don’t have time to cook, I can easily heat one up and put some packaged curry onto it for a quick meal.

#5 Recycling Milk Cartons

Milk cartons can be used for many storage purposes. For example, you can cut a rinsed 500mL carton in half and use it for seasoning storage inside the fridge door’s racks. The cartons help your separate them as well as maintaining moisture.

Milk Cartons
Milk Cartons

Another usage, if you would take this suggestion, is to use them 1000 ml cartons to store kid shoes. The sizes are perfect, and using double-sized tape, you can make yourself a whole rack easily for free!

Recycled Milk Carton Bird House
Recycled Milk Carton Bird House. Photo: Design Milk on Flickr

You can definitely be creative with this one. Cover the outside of your creation with some wrapping paper and it will fit beautifully in your storage space.

There are numerous grandmother’s wisdoms out there in the world. Japanese people passed these life tips down by teaching the later generations by mouth and actions, but there are also a lot of websites collecting these wise advices. The longer you live in Japan and interact with Japanese people, the more you will start to collect and practicing these life-hacks yourself. Thanks grandma!

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