Planning on living in Japan, but you are still unsure what to expect in a Japanese household? Whether you got the job as an English teacher or an IT specialist and now are going to be on your way to the Land of the Rising Sun- congratulations- you are one step closer to your future!
Now, since you are excited about this new journey, you want to understand what living in a Japanese household is like, right?
Luckily for you, I’ve spent my time here in Japan for a proper amount of years, and I can tell you there is a big difference in Japanese homes, compared to your average westernized homes.
Here are some things to expect when living in your brand new home in Japan!
Take off your shoes and use slippers
Alright, well, if you are Asian, then you should already expect this from growing up with an Asian family. However, for the other demographics out there, here is a quick heads-up! When you live in your home in Japan or stay at your friend’s place, you should know that taking off your shoes before entering the house is essential.
In the front entrance of the house, there is a lowered floor called “genkan.” Usually, people make a mistake when taking their shoes off on the raised floor. Always keep in mind that once you take off your shoes on the genkan, politely arrange your boots and use a pair of slippers (if available) before entering the house.
Japanese culture pro-tip: Putting your shoes together and facing the front of your shoes towards the doorway, is the most respectful way to place your shoes after taking them off. If there’s no room to face forwards, you can face them sideways. Main point is- don’t just take off your shoes in the genkan (entryway) and throw them all over the place! 🙂
Having a separate bathroom
Depending on what kind of apartment you will live in, we will focus on the more westernized/modern bathrooms in Japan. The first thing you will note is that the toilet is usually separate from the rest of the bathroom.
Why you ask? There is an excellent logical explanation about it. Living in Japan, especially in Tokyo, is very compact, and the last thing you want is to have everything get soaked together. Also, Japanese people love having a good dip in the tub after a long day of work. So if you live with another person, you may consider having the toilet separate from the bathroom.
However, if you want to save money, then there are many apartments with the toilet, shower, and sink all in one package.
Separate toilet (“Toilet / Bathroom Separate” on our listings) is a Japanese culture thing– It’s basically so you can use the toilet in private. Considering space is at a premium in Japan, having a separate toilet, as well as large and dedicated bath/shower rooms, shows just how important those aspects are, traditionally.
There is no oven or dishwasher
Having no oven or dishwasher may bother some people, but if you don’t cook your food and eat outside, it should be fine. However, it is right to note that most apartments in Japan do not have their own oven or dishwasher.
Ovens and dishwashers are almost non-existent in Japan unless you don’t mind spending all of that dough. It does not mean it’s the end of the world. You have to wash your dishes. A couple of reasons is that the kitchen is usually small, and Japanese people believe hand-cleaning is the go-to method.
Yes, you heard me right- Just like the oven and dishwasher, there is no dryer. You will never see any apartments and houses with any dryer unless that person is wealthy. Having no dryer may also be a deal-breaker for some folks, but it is all about adapting to the culture, right? Many Japanese people do the traditional way of drying clothes, which is hanging it up outside.
I mentioned this many times- Japanese apartments and houses are smaller than your typical westernized homes. Mainly because of population density. As the years go by, the houses in Japan are getting smaller and smaller.
You can still live large in a small space. What I mean by that is that you don’t need a big space to keep yourself satisfied. There are a couple of benefits for this reason. First, it is a lot easier to clean your small area. Secondly, it is cheap to furnish your living room, kitchen, and bedroom. Finally, your utility bills are going to be way cheaper.
If you love being a simple person and have a right eye on arranging your storage, then living in a small house should not discourage you from living big!
Japan is very different from western countries and this reflects in the living quarters, as well. There are many things to get used to once you move here and- to be honest- it may take quite some time to get used to it. However, once you get past these small adjustments to your lifestyle, you’ll find that Japan is quite a great place to live and can ultimately lead to great life experiences!
Trevor first moved to Japan as an exchange student and has lived here for several years after his graduation. He is passionate about spreading Japanese culture to the world and you can check more of his work at bestjapanitems.com where Trevor and his team review and recommend various Japanese products.