Apartment in Japan - Is it small or practical?

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Have you ever asked how is an apartment in Japan? Are they really small as they show on TV, or is it more of a stereotype created by Westerners? Have you asked what size or characteristics?

In this article, we will try to understand what Japanese apartments really are called patience [アパート] and its main characteristics and curiosities. I hope you like 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, that occupy an entire floor of a building. It all depends on purchasing power and location.


The regions of Tokyo have a gigantic population of almost 30 million, which makes the existence of tiny apartments logical. 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 large or huge apartments and houses.

The fact is that in Japan there is no lack of space, the country's 80% is made up of forests and mountains, and only 8% of the Japanese population lives in rural areas. Showing that the Japanese squeeze themselves 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?

Apartamento no japão - são pequenos ou práticos?

Characteristics 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 on before entering, the owners of the apartment also usually store all their shoes and sneakers in a small closet next to the genkan. 

The bathrooms usually have a separate toilet from the bath, and most of them have a bathtub (hot tub). Only extremely small apartments usually combine the toilet with the bathtub.

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


Is having a small kitchen in Japan bad? Sometimes it is cheaper and more advantageous to have lunch outside the home, some people don't even want to use the kitchen. Japan is packed with restaurants and traditionally Japanese people gather outside for a snack instead of welcoming people into their home.

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

Visits are usually hosted in the room that usually has a sliding door to separate and turn into a guest room. Of course, this will not happen with people who have a one-bedroom apartment.

Apartamento no japão - são pequenos ou práticos?

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 yourself from heat and cold.

Many apartments often have wall cupboards and sliding doors. Sliding doors usually make it possible to separate rooms in the house, or even hide secret cabinets.

The size of the Japanese apartment

Have you ever wondered why Japanese people like small apartments? Most Japanese people work and don't have lunch at home, much of their life is outside the home.

Everything in Japan is done 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 exactly because of the ease. It is not part of Japanese culture to pay housekeepers to clean the house, having a large apartment will only make life difficult for a housewife who most often works secularly.

Apartamento no japão - são pequenos ou práticos?

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 range of 100,000 yen.

If you search, you can easily find apartments over 60m² for values starting at 150,000 and that can easily reach 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 are 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 some research I found apartments in the range of 1500 reais with 50 m², while in Japan you can get apartments of this size for the same price range or cheaper. This without taking into account that the Japanese salary is usually 7x higher than ours. So it is sometimes more beneficial to rent apartments in Japan than to buy them.

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

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