Living in Japan, the few options you have are limited when looking for the perfect place for you to rent. Check out our article on types of rental apartments in Japan.
Looking for places to stay in Japan can be enjoyable and frustrating at the same time. You might believe you found the most perfect apartment that met your every need, while other apartments may be the complete opposite of what you had in mind. The way Japanese apartments display themselves in their ads are a little confusing at first. It is phrased differently, and the measurements of the rooms can look odd at first. We will look into how the Japanese label apartments and what kind of apartments may be available to you.
House or Apartment?
The first thing that you would look for is whether you are looking for a full house or an apartment. The way that advertisements are displayed on the street can be a bit confusing to those who have never seen them before. Most of the time there are full photos of the housing unit, whether it is a full house or apartment building. Generally, most housing will be for sale and have higher monetary prices attached to the flyer. You can also see the levels of the structure to see the type of housing. Living in Japan can be great in a house, but they are generally harder to rent, and they can be difficult to purchase on your own.
Finding apartments in Japan is much easier, especially for foreign residents. Finding a realtor or company that can help a non-Japanese speaking resident can be easier in the cities as well. Most advertisements will show a single floor or a room with a loft area. They can be found in more places around the cities and main areas of other prefectures. It is something you should take into consideration when trying to live in Japan.
Sizing of the Rooms
Western countries tend to size rooms by the unit of measurement that the country it’s in uses. In the U.S., it runs by feet and inches, while in other countries it will be by meters and centimeters. Even though Japan uses the metric system, they size their rooms by tatami mats calling the sizing jo. When you look at a room on a flyer or a usual Japanese website you will see it marked by 6 jo or more. The average tatami mat size is 910mmx1820mm and have a particular placement in which they get arranged. Japanese apartments will usually be a single room with a 6.6 jo size. For most single room apartments, it is enough for one person to live with a moderate number of personal items. The larger the size of the living space, the larger the price. The location of the apartment can affect that as well.
The rooms in Japanese apartments are also labeled a little different. Western countries will typically spell out all the words when advertising a living space, and they use certain verbiage to describe the dimensions of the house or apartment. In Japan, they use one, two, or three to describe the number of rooms, and certain acronyms to describe the types of rooms in the apartment.
D- Dining area
L- Living area
You will see flyers and ads that will have different combinations of letters and numbers to give you an idea of what kind of apartment it is. For example, a 1K will generally be an apartment that has a small kitchen area with a separate room area. A 1R will have the entire room integrated with the kitchen being attached. This is like having an enlarged kitchen that will act as your living area. 1DK means the kitchen will have its dining room with a separate living space. 2DK is the average living situation for most couples and offers enough room for at least two people while having a dining/living room area. Make sure to read the dimensions carefully as each room can be small even though there may be more rooms available.
The floor types in Japan are easy to view on flyers and websites. They use visual markings on the floor plans to show what kinds of floors a Japanese apartment will have. It is typical to have wood or linoleum for easy cleaning and upkeep. Some may have carpeting, but that isn’t a common thing as caret can be costly in terms of upkeep. The larger apartments will usually have at least one room with tatami flooring. This is usually designated as the bedroom for the residents. Tatami is nice to walk on and has a little give to it when you walk on it. It can be difficult to keep clean, however, as dirt and dust can get in between the straw hatching of the mats. A vacuum is almost required when trying to clean them. You should ask the realtor about any flooring that looks unfamiliar to the advertisements.
Most westerners who hear the word mansion may think of large houses owned by wealthy people in the best part of town. In Japan, mansion simply means an apartment building. The usual mansion in Japan is a closed-in structure that requires a security code to open the lobby door or a key. They have security that other apartments will not have. They are good for those looking for a little more security in the housing area and is also more expensive. They can have special rules and garbage days or separation that other places don’t have for their tenants. Japanese apartments are generally open to the street and most people avoid the first floor since it is so easy to access the patio area. You can decide on your own as to whether you want an open or closed building.
These are just the basic things to look at when trying to find the types of Japanese apartments that suit you. Be thorough in your search and ask as many questions as possible. You may think you are being annoying, but it is your home and you should not get anything you don’t want. Do your best and you will find the best apartment for you.