The Differences between Japanese and Western Homes

If you can't see the video, go here: http://youtu.be/qWHaenUe1Vs

So, let's imagine you've just arrived in Japan, maybe to work as a teacher or for some other company, or maybe you've been lucky enough to be handed a Japanese apartment to live in for a totally different reason. No, I'm not suggesting you are accomplice to certain illegal murder/aaprtment squatting tactics.... because how the hell would you get in this country? Ok, so reasons aside, you have an aprtment in Japan. Your company has driven you to the door, shown you how the lock on the front door works (because you are foreign, maybe you don't have keys in your country) but then they have dumped you inside and left you to your own devices. This is it. Your life in Japan starts now. This is a very real situation and one I experienced myself. Though my boss was kind enough to set up my internet, but then his company tried to rape me of 20% of my wages. Evil!

You might be a bit confused. Yes, I used the word 'rape' in entirely the wrong context but just go with it. You might also be confused about some of the things in your apartment. It looks similar....but strange somehow. Let us help you.

  • Genkan: or 'entrance' as it is known in less crazy countries. Looks like concrete and is the only place you can wear outside shoes. So take them off here. Might have a cupboard for shoes.
  • Mini-boiler: floats mysteriously over your kitchen sink and provides undrinkable torrent of adjustably hot water through a bendy tap. Cold, drinkable water comes from a tap, but I'd recommend a tap fitting water filter anyway. Good for cleaning pots and washing hair.
  • NO oven! Japanese just don't roast and bake very much! They make toast and the occasional batch of cookies. On the bright side, no hulking monstrosity taking up lots of room in your tiny kitchen.
  • NO flat surface for cutting and preparing vegetables ever! Even if you buy one it will disappear! A folding table to fit into the space beside the washing machine is good though, if you cna avoid losing it.

    This is my house

  • Toilet: It might sing, it might dance (and open the lid for you), it might spray your bum, but highly unlikely unless you are working for a rich company. Probably it will be normal, but asian ones are just troughs that you squat over. Gives users strong legs and humility. Has psycologically sickening unusable tap on top and two options for flushing; 大 big and 小 small. Also, should have special shoes for this room only unless you like guests laughing at you.
  • Bath: thin and tall, no leg room, has a pathetic shower on the side that dribbles hot water and gushes ice cold water like you might actually want it (which you don't in winter); clean yourself sat under the shower on a plastic stool, then soak in the steaming bath
  • No bathroom sink: except that atrocious one on top of the toilet with no hot water. Get used to cleaning teeth and washing in the kitchen sink!
  • No heating: ever!

    Totally floating in my own living room. Mirror's Edge y'all
Living Room!
  • Tatami: Hard, cold, expensive and difficult to replace floor covering that only seems to exist to make measuring rooms easier (1 tatami, 2 tatami... 8 tatami room, etc.). Take care of it by padding any furnitures' bases or buying a rug! Nice for pets in summer, but give me a hard wood floor any day.
  • Sliding doors: everywhere! Fun and space saving. Don't pull too hard or your entire wall might come down. Can be rearranged easily.
  • Paper doors: looks very asian but not practical in any way at all ever. Make your apartment look messy until you replace them only to break them again the next day. Like Internet Explorer these shoudl be replaced as soon as you realise you have them.
  • Paper walls (practically): neighbours hear everything you do, you hear everything they do... everything! Plan accordingly, keep music and TV down, buy headphones. Useless for heavy pictures.
  • Cupboards: look exactly like doors to other rooms. Be careful, it might go to the neighbour's place.
  • Skirting board: massive gap behind it, great for holding up pictures, photos and greetings cards.
  • Ceilings and door frames: very very low. Tall people, beware!

This blog is not meant to be any kind of guide to getting an apartment asshat could easily make up four or five blogs on its own. No, this is merely to orientate you on moving in, and I have deliberately kept it brief because there is no point repeating what is in the video. If I wrote about these topics it would be too long for you too read. I know because I wrote it and then I deleted it.

I'm sure we'll cover buying and renting property on another day. All I shall say for now is to try and look after your apartment if you want to get any of your security deposit back. In some places they will always take a chunk of it for cleaning - even if you are meticulous - because its tradition, and to question tradition is to question our existence, and if we question our existence we might find out we have no reason to exist, and in knowing we have no reason to exist, we might cease to exist, and then there would be no more chocolate covered potato chips so the non-existent world would mourn. So just accept it and look after your place to get back as much money as you possibly can.

We'll see you next time with another episode, possibly outside. I don't know yet. Depends on if it stops snowing. In the meantime, all comments or questions are welcome, including any suggestions of what topics to cover? What do you think the newbie to Japan ought to know?


  1. Haha, I like the Internet Explorer comment. Internet Explorer is the number one web browser for downloading other web browsers!

    1. That's what I had in mind when I wrote it! Thanks for your comment.

  2. Hi, I'm from my blog at http://nasulink.blog.fc2.com/
    Thank you for coming to my blog.

    I read some of your articles. It's all fun !
    My hometown, Nasu, is now in deep snow. I hope you are enjoying Japanese life there. Tak

    1. Thanks for visiting. Yeah, I try to make it fun to read, but useful for foreigners, I hope.

  3. Very interesting and informative blog! I think the most important thing you mentioned for newbies is to look after their apartment, holes in the wall, marks etc and it could cost you dearly. Deposit gone, so i've heard.

    I wish i'd known more about phones and how long it takes to get one (arghhh!) and also the difficulty of getting cash with a foreign bank card. Possible posts? Or maybe not.


  4. By the way, how did you get a link bar below your header? I would love one!

    1. Yeah we'll look into those. They seem good topics. Thanks. As for the link bar, its part of the theme. Some have them, some don't The option for it is in the appearance section of the dashboard though. Have a look and see what you can find. Maybe you'll need to change theme though.

  5. I just assume they'll keep the deposit. I've had landlords at home scam me for them before, so anything I get here is a bonus. I kind of miss tatami, we had it in my old place and it was pretty cosy, and much easier than my incredibly fragile fake wooden floor, another reason why I can't expect the deposit back. But yes, ours is never to question why, ever.

    1. I do too, but at that moment of moving out, I kind of hope....

  6. I found this blog through Vine. First off I'd like to say y'all have a super cute cat! Second, your blog concept is really interesting. Japan is in my top two countries to visit. I really enjoy both your posts here and on Vine. I hope y'all continue posting videos :)

    1. I"m glad we have some fans on Vine. I enjoy playing about with that app. Thank you. We'll be making plenty more posts, don't worry. Real life stuff may get in the way occasionally - like now is test week, and soon it is the end of school term - but we will continue!

  7. Great Share!! The information you have provided is valuable and i want to give you a huge thumbs up for it.
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