When we look at spectacular photos of Japan we might think that all Japanese people live in old mansions or in luxurious high-tech lofts. But actually very few can afford them. Simple residents of the land of the rising sun tend to rent apaato, which is basically just affordable rental housing. 2 bloggers, Dima Doroshenko and Dmitry Shamov, have been living in Japan for quite a long time and they decided to show what standard Japanese apartments really look like.
Dima Doroshenko and Dmitry Shamov
We at Bright Side have tapped into the lives of these 2 guys via their blogs and conducted our own research to show you the peculiarities of Japanese living conditions.
In Japan, it’s really hard to rent an apartment without a local guarantor. In the case that the owner agrees to rent their apartment to you without this, its living conditions will be far from perfect. Sometimes, if you and the owner have agreed that you’ll live there alone, they will never permit someone else to live there with you, even if it’s your wife and there is enough space for 2.
The majority of all apartments are rented out unfurnished, except for some built-in kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and sometimes a big closet. The average ceiling height is 7 feet, but the height of a doorway is much lower (approximately 5 ft 7 in), so tall people have to be very careful.
Very few Japanese can have a pet at home because they are usually not allowed in rented apartments, otherwise the rental fee would be much higher. Japanese owners are afraid that their future tenants might be allergic to the pets’ fur, which can stay long after your moving out. This is why cat cafes are so popular in Japan.
The rental price, excluding utility bills and internet, is:
- Dima Doroshenko pays $500 per month for a small studio. Though, his apartment has a balcony which is big in comparison to Japanese standards.
- Dmitry Shamov pays approximately $800 per month for a one bedroom apartment with a big kitchen and bathroom.
Usually there are special areas around the building designated for bicycle or scooter parking. However, if you have a car you might have a problem parking it because you can’t park your car on the apartment’s property, it can only be parked in a paid parking lot. This is why, if you want to buy a car in Japan you will be asked to provide evidence that you have a place to park it. In big cities, they build huge parking towers to solve this problem.
Every apartment has 2 mailboxes. The first one is placed at the main entrance of the building for leaflets and commercial booklets. The other one is simply a slot in the door of your apartment. Your personal correspondence is delivered there.
Apaato houses usually have open corridors and staircases which are probably not that comfortable or convenient when it’s raining.
Though, when you walk through this type of corridor you can enjoy the view. It’s almost as if you’re looking through a panoramic window.
Japanese apartments have really thin walls. Sometimes when you return home and say, “I’m home” you might hear, “Welcome!” from the apartments below and above. But it’s especially scary when the entire house shakes during a typhoon.
Right behind the entrance of a Japanese apartment, there is a small step where you can leave your street shoes. Usually the toes of these shoes should face the entrance. Inside the apartment, you should wear home shoes or walk barefoot.
In low-cost apartments (like the apartment of Dima Doroshenko), the entrance door leads directly to the common room which is combined with a kitchen. In more expensive apartments (like the apartment of Dmitry Shamov), the rooms are separated from each other with doors.
Every apartment has a video door-phone, and the lights above the main entrance are kept on at night. So, you will always be able to see who has come for a visit.
In Japan, they’re always trying to save space, even in big apartments. This is why kitchen facilities are usually pretty compact. In most cases, stoves work on gas, but sometimes you can find a small electric stove.
Sinks usually have a multi-level filtration system to prevent even the smallest food particles from getting into the pipes. You can also find a so-called “garbage cabinet” in a Japanese kitchen. People store sorted waste there in order to throw it away on a certain date.
Almost every kitchen is equipped with a rice steamer. While the door of a microwave usually opens upwards not to the side, like we are accustomed to.
A bathtub in an apartment bathroom is usually really tiny (you can’t do much more than just sit there), but it’s pretty deep. And the smart toilet bowls, also known as washlets, that foreigners get so impressed with during their visits to Japan, are rarely found in Japanese apartments because they are very expensive.
A bathroom is usually a complete wet area. The shower head can be placed right above the floor because the Japanese use the bathtub not just for washing, but also for relaxation. The bather should enter the water only after rinsing or lightly showering. In the past, the same bath water might be used by other family members or for household needs.
Every apartment has an electronic panel which allows you to set the temperature of the water in the bathroom and in the kitchen. And, you’ll need to wait for some time before the water gets heated because there is no centralized heat supply in Japan.
The main difference in Japanese washing machines is that they are loaded from above, and they usually wash with cold water only.
It is pretty common for a living room to be combined with a kitchen. It can also serve as a bedroom. To save space, the Japanese sleep on futons. They unfold them at night and then roll them up and put them away in a big closet during the day.
By the way, modern apartments are often equipped with a remote control for lights. So you can turn off the lights without leaving your bed.
If an apartment is big enough, a living room can have a low sofa without legs and a small table. If there is a bedroom, it could be so small that a standard queen bed would take up most of its space.
Windows in Japanese apartments are often frosted because neighboring houses sometimes stand too close to each other. And another thing, all the windows have wire-reinforced glass in them so in the event of an earthquake, they won’t shatter.
The balcony in the photo above is a pretty big balcony by Japanese standards. You can store some of your things out there. But more often, people use it to dry their washed clothes outside.
If an apartment block has more than 3 floors, but doesn’t have a stationary fire escape, each apartment in it should be equipped with this folding ladder.
What fact about Japanese apartments was the most surprising for you?