Due to the rapid development of the country in the second half of 20th century, Japanese residential space is a compromise between tradition and the limitations imposed by modern city life. That is why some of the solutions there may look weird for foreigners…
#12 Apartment privacy
The Japanese are very friendly and sociable. Still, being invited to their home is a symptom of great trust and liking. Normally they go out to socialize while their houses and apartments are ‘booked’ for the nearest family and very close friends. That is why paying someone a visit at home there is a serious thing. Moreover, the walls there are really thin and louder behavior can be really annoying for the neighbors.
#11 It’s raining shelves. And hangers
With limited space available, a hanger over a washing machine or toilet is a lifesaver. These improvised shelves help to easily organize detergents, toilet accessories and towels. Commonly available in most DIY stores they save loads of so precious bathroom space.
#10 Tiny kitchens
A spacious kitchen in a Japanese apartment? Not really. The size of the apartment promotes extreme minimalism. That is why dishwashers are rare and cookers have normally two burners only, sometimes with an extra ‘fish grill’.
Removing the dinner leftovers is also unusual.
Japanese kitchens have got a basket in the sink and underneath there is a fat trap. The leftovers end up here and the container had to be cleaned on regular basis. The smell of the device is far from pleasant, therefore the stores offer plenty of air refreshers dealing with this side-effect.
#9 A combination of toilet and washbasin
The mechanism is fairly simple. Whenever you wash your hands, the water comes down into the flush tank. Only then does it do its toilet job. Such configuration definitely allows you to cut down on water bills.
Plenty of Japanese kitchens have got small stashes to store food, bottles or kitchen accessories. They are built in the floor so that they won’t occupy too much space. Ingenious, isn’t it?
#7 A bamboo wife to hug
A hollow bamboo tube the size of a person or ‘bamboo wife’ is really popular with Asians. They use it as a pillow since hugging a real one is not really pleasant in countries with hot and humid climate.
#6 A mattress instead of a bed
A lot of the Japanese sleep on futons, which are nothing but thick cotton mattresses. You put them on the floor for the night and put them back into the wardrobe when you get up. The rationale behind is that… the apartments are really small and there is no room for beds or sofas. As a matter of fact, some Japanese hotels use futons, too.
#5 Slippers for everyone
Genkan is the entrance to the house or the apartment. This is where you are supposed to take off your shoes, because you must not wear them inside. No matter what kind of job you do, once you get back home you take your shoes off. Of course there is some footwear for visitors, too. Is this rule in force in your house, too?
The Japanese have some slippers of the guests, too. This is because of the rooms arrangement – they are often designed to serve as dining rooms and because of futons you sleep almost on the floor. Even if you invite Japanese person to your place and you won’t require slippers, they will ask you for a pair.
In some apartments, there is special footwear to go to the bathroom.
#4 Kotatsu tables
Kotatsu is a table that comes with an electric blanket. This is a fantastic solution to keep you warm in the winter, especially when you have a meal or just sip your tea. The thing is that in Japan central heating is not so common…
The tables work well not only in the winter. On a warm day all you do is take the blanket off and use it as a regular coffee table. As they are usually very low, you don’t sit on chairs but on cushions, on the floor. Again you safe a lot of space as storing cushions is much easier than storing chairs.
#3 A microwave 3 in 1 instead of an oven
Most houses do not have a full-size oven – there is no room for it. Instead, they go for a small microwave with air frying and oven functions. Not only does it save a lot of energy, but in the first place it makes the cooking much faster. As Japanese fridges are much lower that the European or American ones, don’t be surprised to find the toasters right on their top.
#2 Earthquake stands
These stands have got an self-adhesive ends attached to a cabinet or a wardrobe on one side and to the ceiling on the other. In case of cabinets that are far from the ceiling (the size of a refrigerator for example), they are attached to the ceiling on one side and to the legs on the other.
The reason is simple – in case of an earthquake they will prevent the furniture from falling.
#1 Taking a bath in the Japanese way
The Japanese bathing culture does differ from the rest of the world. The first thing you do is take a shower to wash your body well. Only can you get into the bathtub. In case of new water supply systems, the water flow is controlled with a panel. There is no need to turn the faucet to regulate the water temperature. All you need is to switch it on and indicate the desired temperature.
You can use the system to redirect the shower water into the toilet or the washing machine. As you take the bath when you are already clean, the bath water remains pretty clear so it can be used again.
When you look at the size of the Tokyo metropolis, you will soon realize why saving space is of such importance there.
In 2018 the population of the Tokyo metropolis was estimated at 38,305,000 people. In Tokyo itself there are almost 14 million people living on the area of 2190 square kilometers, which makes it 6364 people living on a square kilometer!