What Are Bathrooms Like in Japanese Apartments?
While apartments in Japan have similar bathrooms to western countries, Japanese bathrooms can have some quirks and interesting differences to those back home!
Like many things here, bathrooms in Japan have been designed with careful consideration, and with convenience and practicality in mind.
The Japanese bathroom is most commonly separated across two rooms. They will often have one room which is the bathroom, it usually has a separate area in front to undress. The bathroom sink is normally in the entrance section to the bathroom. Then there will be a separate room for the toilet.
In 1R apartments in Japan, you could have the toilet, sink, shower, and bath all in the same space. Showers are taken in the bathtub in these bathrooms. This layout isn’t common and is particularly uncommon in modern apartments and larger Japanese apartments. Some Japanese apartments do have the sink, shower, and bath all in the same space.
It’s normal for there not to be any windows in bathrooms in Japan. A Japanese bathroom will always have ventilation to reduce the chances of it getting moldy.
The Japanese toilet
The Japanese toilet can be a range of things. Japan is known for the innovative TOTO toilets as well as the more traditional squat toilet. Public bathrooms often have both the Japanese toilet and the western-style toilets available. Squat toilets are very rare in apartments though!
Toilets in Japanese apartments have two different flush modes: small (小)
and large (大), so that you can control how much water is used. Toilets in Japan also provide more opportunities to be efficient with water. They tend to have a bathroom sink above the reservoir connected to the toilet so that you can use the clean water to wash your hands before it is then used to flush the toilet.
The TOTO toilets that visitors to Japan are often perplexed by and excited to try out are known as ‘washlets’. Modern apartments in Japan often have these washlets. Washlets can vary, but they tend to be equipped with a spray nozzle and a seat warmer. A seat warmer on a Japanese toilet can be nice for feeling cozy in winter but leaving it turned on is an easy way to rack up the electricity bills!
Baths in apartments in Japan
Bathing is an important part of Japanese culture and this extends to bathing in a Japanese bathroom. People will rinse with the shower or a tub of water before entering the bath, and wash with soap after coming out of the bath, followed by another rinsing.
The bathing area in a Japanese bathroom is like a wet room, so the shower is not in a separate cubicle, it is in the same area like the bath. This allows you to wash before and after the bath.
The bathtub itself is generally quite large and deep, it’s perfect for sitting back and relaxing in the warm water.
A unique feature that can be found in a Japanese bathroom is the ability to pre-heat the bath to a specific temperature, oidaki. This is particularly useful for families sharing the same bathwater and is an effective way to conserve water.
The bathroom sink
In Japanese bathrooms, the area outside the bathing space will usually be home to a bathroom sink and built-in vanity. The bathroom sink can be quite large. The tap usually has two different settings: a normal running water setting and a shower spray option too.
It’s important to make sure you have a filter for the bathroom sink so that the drain doesn’t get blocked.
The vanity area can vary in size and style from apartment to apartment. Generally speaking, Japanese apartments will usually have some small, exposed shelves for storage on the sides of the mirror.
You’ll usually have a cupboard for storage under the bathroom sink and, if you’re lucky, you might find another cupboard above the mirror.
It has become popular to have a designated place for washing machines in the bathroom. You are more likely to come across this set-up in modern apartments in Japan, where the washing machine will usually be in the same area as the vanity and sink.
However, washing machines are often in other areas of the apartment too. They are often even outside the apartment or on balconies!
The Japanese bathroom is usually practical and easy to clean. With the ventilation fans and heated bath, you can even use the bathroom to dry laundry when it is too cold or rainy outside! There’s a fairly standard layout to Japanese bathrooms but there can be variations to this. Apartments, where all elements of the bathroom are in one room, will normally be cheaper, so if you aren’t fussed about having a separate toilet space and bathing area, it can help you save money. These different parts of the bathroom are all things to consider when looking for apartments in Japan.