Saturday, March 2, 2013

Peek Into a Rural Japanese Apartment

You've probably heard the stories, seen the pictures, and watched the videos: Japanese apartments are infamous for being tiny abodes where you have to be a size 0 just to slip through the kitchen. In a country with limited real estate but a huge population, it's just the way things roll. Especially in the cities, such as Tokyo, which has the highest population density in the world.

But I was fortunate to live in a roomier place with (damaged, yay!) hardwood floors when I lived out at the base of the Japanese Alps in Gifu Prefecture. Please enjoy the small photo tour below, and be sure to read the captions and extra comments below! ;) Things aren't always as they appear in photos...

Front of the building. I lived in center-top. You can tell because LOL PINK AND ORANGE FUTON CLIPS.

View from front door. Enlarge to see the Japanese cemetery.
View from balcony. This was an appliance dumpingr/recycling center. At 7am there would be some half naked guy throwing toilets around. Literally. Throwing toilets around.
Interview view from the front door. Opens right into kitchen and passes into separate living/bedroom.
Entryway (or "genkan") where shoes go. You DO NOT wear shoes aside from house slippers inside Japanese homes. You just don't, okay. (And yes, that's my washing machine. No, we don't do dryers in Japan. Haha if only~)
Kitchen. No ovens in Japan unless you are super rich/lucky. Everyone has a mini fridge. I was special and had two burners instead of just one. (Gas range, of course.) That small space next to the sink was my entire cooking space. That toaster oven was a giant fire waiting to happen so it remained unhappily unplugged most of the time. More later on why that sink was the source of all evil.
Just to the right was the hygiene area. This is a pretty standard setup for...well, every home I've ever been in Japan, and many hotels.
Shower/Bath. Toilets are kept in separate closet-like rooms in Japan. I think I'll pass on posting a picture of a fancy Japanese toilet. (Google it~)
Living area. This was REALLY spacious compared to most apartments. For way less than a closet in Tokyo. (My rent was about 480 a month.)
Close up of my actual "living" corner. I spent about 20 percent of my time in Japan in this corner. We don't do beds in Japan. No way. It's a futon on the floor or bust. Also, that table was never that clean most of the time. Usually it was embarrassingly cluttered.
Shelf area. TV did not work. It was analog and Japan had moved on to digital. (How nice, right?) This was taken about two months after I moved in. By the end of the year the TV was in the closet and these shelves were covered in Pokemon and CDs.
Interior view from balcony.
My super spacious closet I missed more than anything.
Now for the EXTRA COMMENTS. These pictures were taken in late June, in the middle of Japan's OMG THIS IS NOT OKAY humid / rainy season. My apartment, while spacious, was the epitome of un-ventable. I had ONE window and basically a death trap in the kitchen. I was only capable of surviving thanks to an air conditioner that was worth every penny to run. So now look at this pictures and imagine standing there, your clothes sticking to you like adhesive while sweat falls off your forehead. You're choking on the thick, watery air and just going to the bathroom (which was a HOT BOX) makes you want to die. As somebody who survived two heat strokes already in Japan, you can imagine this was a lot of fun.

On the flipside it was a freakin' freezer during the winter. And the heater did nothing to improve it. I could see my own breath a majority of the time, and ice would form in the corners of the wall.

SECOND THING. About the sink. That sink was...no. Just no. There was SOMETHING wrong with my plumbing, that nobody could tell me what was going on. But essentially when it was really hot or really cold (so, 10 months out of the year) it would emit this FOUL odor that would cloak the whole kitchen and smack you in the face when you came home. It came from the drain. I cleaned that thing SO MANY TIMES and yet it made no difference. Open sewers are still a huge thing in Japan and it kinda smelled like that. IT was...bad. That's all I can say. Ugh. I can still smell it over a year later.

Well, at any rate, hoped you enjoyed the small tour of a Japanese apartment! ;)

8 comments:

  1. I loved it! Funny thing is that it seems really tiny and when you said it was spacious for Tokyo standards, I giggled. Thanks for the share!

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    1. Haha. This is a more conventional Tokyo apartment. I've been in smaller ones too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6VUOMVKkEs

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  2. You get that scent in Korea too. It's shared plumbing, the pipes above and below feed into the same pipes. It's pretty gross. I love when it rains and we can smell everything the people above us have put in their sinks for months.

    Japan and Korea seem to have pretty much the same going for them... except in Korea no bathtubs, and the shower is in the toilet area with your washmachine. It's totally exciting! Korea also doesn't do "closets" you have one for your shoes that you pretty much shove everything in and then you end up buying huge box things that work kind of like closets. Our apt on Jeju is about the same size as yours and we fit two people a cat and a dog in it. It's "big" for Korea too... "perfect for a married couple." -__-

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  3. Ha, you are so American pointing out the seperate toilet and bathroom thing.

    I lived in a traditional house in Tokyo for a year and it was huge. Tokyo is cheap if you live in an "unfashionable area". Same thing - freezing in winter, disgusting in summer. No insulation at all - you could see the sky through the roof. I did have a real bed though, from Muji of course.

    Great apartment for one person.

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    1. lol, I can assure you my Australian coworkers always pointed it out as well ;)

      I wasn't able to see the sky through the roof. I tried not to look at my ceiling. There were...stains on it. Weird stains.

      Never heard of Muji. Unless it's Apita or Aeon Mall I've probably never heard of it. (mm, rustic japan living.) I remember going to Gujo for one week every month and being appalled they didn't even have media rental places.

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  4. Interesting stuff, and I think living in tiny apartments with odd little 'quirks' is a rite of passage! And a separate toilet is unusual in the UK too.

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  5. You got to live in Japan? Cool! Thanks for the virtual tour :)

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    1. This was my third time living there =)

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