Apartment in Japan – Is it small or practical?

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Have you ever asked what an apartment in Japan is like? Are they really small like they show on TV? Or is it just another stereotype created by Westerners? Have you ever asked what size or characteristics?

In this article, we will try to understand how Japanese apartments called apaate [アパート] and its main features and curiosities. I hope you enjoy this little reflection.

Are apartments in Japan really small?

Before we start I want to make it clear that there are infinite types of apartments in Japan, from small to gigantic ones that occupy an entire floor of a building. It all depends on purchasing power and location.

Tokyo's regions have a massive population of almost 30 million, which makes it logical to have tiny apartments. In small towns and other provinces, apartments can vary in size and even exceed the western standard.

There are many variables on this subject, by reading the article you will understand why many prefer small apartments over apartments and large or gigantic houses.

The fact is that in Japan there is no shortage of space, 80% of the country is made up of forests and mountains, and only 8% of the Japanese population lives in rural areas. Showing that the Japanese squeeze on purpose.

If you want to know more about the size of Japanese houses, read our article that answers the question: Are Japanese houses really small?

Apartment in japan - are they small or practical?

Features of Japanese apartments

The first thing we can notice when entering an apartment in Japan is the genkan. In this place you must put your shoes before entering, the apartment owners also usually keep all their shoes and sneakers in a small closet next to the genkan. 

Bathrooms usually have a separate toilet from the bath, and most of them have a bathtub (ofuro). Only extremely small apartments usually combine the toilet with the bathtub.

One thing that scares foreigners is the size of the kitchen (average of 4m²). It is common not to have a table in the kitchen, that small place is only used for cooking. Stoves usually have only 2 burners.

Is having a small kitchen in Japan bad? Sometimes it's cheaper and more advantageous to have lunch outside, some people don't even want to use the kitchen. Japan is full of restaurants and traditionally Japanese people gather outside for snacks rather than having people over.

Apartments in Japan are often measured in tatami. A Japanese room or bedroom usually has between 6 and 8 mats (average of 10m). Although it is now common to use beds, it is traditional in an apartment to use a futon.

Visitors are usually hosted in the room that usually has a sliding door to separate and turn into a guest room. Of course, that won't happen to people who have a one-bedroom apartment.

Apartment in japan - are they small or practical?

Something to highlight is the technology present in the apartments, most of them have heating in all taps. It is common to find apartments with air conditioning units or other technologies to protect themselves from heat and cold.

Many apartments usually have built-in closets and sliding doors. Sliding doors usually make it possible to separate rooms in the house, or even hide secret closets.

The size of the Japanese apartment

Have you ever stopped to think why the Japanese like small apartments? Most Japanese work and do not eat lunch at home, much of their life is outside the home.

Everything in Japan is made to make life easier, there is no need for a Japanese to know how to cook or even wash clothes. That's because there are coin laundries, convenience stores and cheap restaurants.

There are gigantic apartments, but many Japanese prefer the small ones precisely because of the ease. It is not part of Japanese culture to pay maids to clean the house, having a large apartment will only make life difficult for a housewife who most often works secularly.

Apartment in japan - are they small or practical?

The price of apartment rentals in Japan will depend on location and size. There are many apartments in Tokyo that are only 23m² or even 19m² in the 100,000 yen range.

If you search, you can easily find apartments over 60m² for prices starting at 150,000 and which can easily go up to 300,000 yen. There are apartments in Tokyo with more than 200m², but their price exceeds one million yen per month.

Outside Tokyo you can easily find apartments over 60m² for less than 100,000 yen. If you're a single person, you can get small apartments for up to 25,000 yen. This is another factor in the existence of small apartments, a large part of the Japanese population is not married.

Sometimes an apartment rental in Japan can be cheaper and bigger than in Brazil. Doing a research I found apartments in the range of 1500 reais with 50 square meters, while in Japan you can get apartments of this size for the same price range or cheaper. This is without taking into account that the Japanese salary is usually 7x higher than ours. That's why it is sometimes more advantageous to rent apartments in Japan than to buy them.

What do you think of Japanese apartments? Have you ever had the chance to live in one? Tell us your experience!

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