You’ve just got the keys for your new apartment and excitement is building for the place that you’ll be calling home, but there are still a few things left to do before the empty rooms become uniquely your own.
Whether you’ve carted a whole load of furnishings and belongings from your previous place or are starting anew, there’s a couple of items that should definitely be on the new apartment checklist.
We’re not talking about the expensive beds, couches, fridges, and washing machines but more the cheaper and occasionally overlooked items that help turn a house into a home.
Some of these are universal to most nations on earth but there are also several that are specific to Japan and which foreign residents can sometimes overlook.
Land space is indeed at a premium in the major Japanese cities compared to many other countries but that doesn’t mean you can’t have all the conveniences that you would back home.
Generally speaking, there is a difference in the way that many Japanese apartments are viewed to those in other nations and that starts with the home being more a place for quiet entertainment rather than the occasional group party that your new neighbors might not really appreciate!
With that in mind, most people want to find an easy way to relax at home after a long day at work or out and about seeing the sights of your new city, and what better way to make that smooth and easy than with one of the many ‘smart devices’ that come very cheap.
Whether it’s Google Home to help get things done while you’re moving about the apartment, an Amazon Fire Stick to give you high-speed access to Netflix, or the sports streaming app DAZN that launched in Japan three years ago, there’s a range of cheap products that give you a world of entertainment on command.
It’s all well and good to just think about relaxing but there are many practical issues with the smaller size of Japanese apartments that can make storage a major challenge.
Online marketplaces such as Amazon or the old bricks-and-mortar options in Daiso and Nitori could soon become your best friend in looking for cheap yet highly practical items that can make even the biggest hoarder look like a minimalist.
Many Japanese apartments make great use of tension rods – expandable shelving items (tsuppari-bo in Japanese) – that can be great to string up for extra storage space in closets, bathrooms, or kitchens.
They’re lightweight, can hold a decent load, and if placed correctly won’t leave any scratches or marks on the walls.
Similarly, maximizing storage space in both the kitchen and bathroom areas should be a priority and a stainless-steel shower caddy will keep all your soaps, shampoos and creams clean and neatly organized whilst cheap plastic storage containers can be a godsend for making the most of any limited storage space for cooking and dining.
Speaking of cooking – and cleaning – a cheap rice cooker is an absolute must for those in a Japanese apartment to help you prepare the staple food of the nation in barely half an hour, whilst a rechargeable vacuum cleaner removes the tangle and hassle of cords in whipping around the apartment to keep the floors spotlessly clean.
Clothes too can naturally present a real challenge with the four distinct seasons in Japan, necessitating a frequent rotation of items and that’s where fabric storage boxes, that can simply be pushed under any available bed space, are a lifesaver.
Just two or three of the cheap boxes can store a whole different season’s worth of clothing that can then be rotated depending on the climate. It’s just as easy to economize space for all those shoes that you’ve collected for every occasion – formal, casual, exercise, and work – with a set of hanging shoe shelves available cheaply online that can either be stacked up in a cupboard or slung over a door.
One thing that’s often overlooked in city apartments is the need to try and reconnect with nature even amid the concrete jungle and for those fortunate to have a balcony – regardless of size – it shouldn’t be viewed as just a place to hang your laundry.
A quick trip to the local department store can get you stocked up with a range of planters – both hanging and ground-based – and with the right soil and a few cheap packets of seeds, you can soon be running your own mini-vegetable patch.
Numerous kinds of herbs plus a range of vegetables to keep you eating healthy – and cheap – can be planted and grown with minimal effort. When you have cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes, celery, and mint overflowing in your own apartment it gives a great sense of satisfaction. There’s no need to stop with just edible items either, as a range of plants can be placed either inside or on the balcony – including the likes of cactus and succulents – to help bring you closer to nature and give the whole apartment a calming feel.
One thing that’s unique to Japan, but not so calming, is the ever-present threat of earthquakes.
Not wanting to end on too much of a worrying note – the chance of major quakes is still remote – but it is important that all apartment dwellers have a list of things in their place to make sure that they’re okay in the event of a major tremor.
You’ll notice that most apartments have a mini storage space that’s often located under the kitchen floor and you should make sure to place enough water and dried foods there to last for three days – just in case!
So, there you have it – enough supplies to last in a disaster, enough vegetables to last a year from your own balcony, the devices you need to unwind, and the storage items to help maximize your space.
Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy your neatly arranged and calming new Japanese apartment.