Tokyo woman spends decade living without public electricity

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Chikako Fujii has been living in Tokyo without paying a single penny to public electricity for the past 10 years.

The 62-year-old generates her own electricity by using four solar panels installed on her apartment’s balcony.

The panels generate an average of 1,000 watts on a sunny day that is enough for her to use her limited electrical appliances and to light up her house at night for a few days.

Fujii, who makes a living as a textile-dyeing artist, doesn’t own a TV, audio speakers, washing machine, air conditioner, or vacuum cleaner.

On sunny days, she just leaves whatever food she wants to cook in black cooking pots on her balcony for a few hours. To cook rice and bake a cake which requires more heat, she uses a solar cooker.

When it rains, she rides a power-generating bike in the morning for around 10 minutes which generates around 10 watts of energy. Biking for that long inside her house, a light bulb can be lit for three hours, Fujii said.

Some people call her lifestyle ‘spartan’ but Fujii said that she only does things she finds enjoyable and can do sustainably.

She began this power-saving lifestyle a year after the Japan Earthquake in 2011 that triggered the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

But now she is considering giving up on this lifestyle partially due to the recent scorching summer heat. She also said that now more options are available on public electricity generated by cleaner energy in Japan compared to a decade ago.

Fujii recently bought a small refrigerator which is run by her solar panels.

She said she will keep solar cooking even if she goes back to public electricity. “Food cooked in the sun is delicious, and it doesn’t use any gas and electricity. And it can be used when a natural disaster hits. I want to continue solar-cooking and develop skills,” said Fujii.