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Japanese housing conditions

In Japan, land prices are expensive and housing conditions in terms of rent and size are not good compared to other countries. Housing is a very serious problem even for the Japanese, especially in urban areas, which lack spacious and inexpensive housing.

1. Japanese rental housing

In Japan there is both public housing and private housing. Apartments make up the majority of rental housing.

a) Public housing

Public housing is provided by official organizations such as prefectural, city and town governments, and housing supply corporations. Any non-Japanese who has a foreigner registration can apply for this type of housing regardless of their nationality. There are two types of housing: Koei Jutaku (public housing) is for low-income people; and Tokutei Yuryo Chintai Jutaku (luxury family housing) and Kosha/Kodan Jutaku (public corporation housing) for those with middle-class incomes.

These apartments offer a certain level of facilities at a relatively low rent. It is necessary to pay two or three months’ rent as a deposit (guarantee money) on your lease, but the key money that is necessary for private housing is not required.

However, requirements such as income are precisely determined, and only those who meet these requirements can apply. Since there are many applicants, tenants are determined by lottery. After moving in, tenants must abide by the rules of use (ie no one can live with tenants without permission). This type of housing is mainly apartments, which generally include a kitchen, bathroom and oshiire (closet), with one to four rooms.

b) Private rental housing

Private rental housing is owned by individuals and private companies. The type varies in rent and size.

1. Apartment (Apartment)

These are primarily two-story buildings constructed of light steel, wood, or mortar, housing 4-8 households. Some share a bathroom and/or do not have a bathtub.

2. Mansion (Apartment)

In Japan, the dwelling that is larger than an Apartment and built with reinforced concrete is called a Mansion. The isolation is better than an Aparto and the privacy is better. Some have a concierge who lives on the first floor or others have underground parking.

3. Single family home

Single-family homes have been recently designed using a mix of Japanese and Western styles. Some of them have a garden. There are several rental houses designed especially for non-Japanese, but not many.

2. Typical home size and floor plan

The area is indicated in square meters (m2), as well as in the original Japanese units, “jo” and “tsubo”. A jo means a tatami mat and is approximately 180cm x 90cm. (“Tatami” is a unique Japanese floor covering). One tsubo measures 182cm x 182cm or about 3.3m2 and is roughly equivalent to two jo. There are Japanese-style and Western-style rooms. A Japanese-style room has tatami mats, and a Western-style room has a floor or carpeted floor. Below is a typical floor plan of a Japanese dwelling.

• K, DK, LDK – K stands for Kitchen, D stands for Dining Room, and L stands for Living Room. K means a kitchen only, and DK means a dining room plus kitchen, and LDK means a room that has the function of a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen. Therefore, 2DK means a house that has two rooms in addition to a room that has the function of kitchen and dining room.

• UB – UB stands for Unit Bathroom (Unified Formation Bathroom), which includes a bathtub, toilet, and sink.

• Oshiire (wardrobe) – This means a storage space in a Japanese-style room.

• PS – This means a pipe space that contains drainage pipes and wiring ducts.

• MB – This stands for meter box for water and gas.

One Bedroom Mansions Floor Plan (One Bedroom Apartments)

(Example) The premises are compact and there is a room that can be used as a living room. The kitchen area is very small, so elaborate cooking is not possible. Some of them do not have space for a washing machine inside the room.

Floor Plan for Single Family Homes


• Most single-family houses in modern Japan have Japanese and Western-style rooms.

• Some of them have a garden and a parking space.

3. Japanese housing customs

some shoes In Japanese homes, there is an area to remove your shoes before going up to the main entrance. The Japanese sit on the floor and sleep on a futon on the tatami, the traditional Japanese mats, so stepping on them with your shoes is not allowed. If you walk into a room with shoes on and dirty the rugs, you may have to pay repair costs.

b) BathroomIn Japan, bathing is not only about washing the body, but also an opportunity to relax while soaking in the bathtub. Recently, baths consisting of a Western-style bath with a toilet have become popular, but the traditional Japanese bath is separated from the toilet and has a space for washing the body outside the bathtub. Bathtubs are mostly made of plastic or stainless steel. If you live with a Japanese family, you should keep the bath water as clean as possible because the rest of the family will take turns using the water after you. Don’t use soap in a Japanese-style bathtub. The water is heated mainly by gas.

c) Tatami matsTatami mats are a traditional floor covering made of straw sewn together to form a mat about 5.5 cm thick and held together with woven reed. A tatami mat (jo) is also the unit used to indicate the size of a room. The new tatami is green and the tatami mats are changed every few years or every time you move house.

d) Futon (thick quilt), bed and oshiire (wardrobe)In a Japanese house, the futon is usually unfolded every night and folded into the oshiire every morning. During the day, the futon is kept inside the oshiire. In this way, a single room can be used for several purposes. If a bed is placed on the tatami mats, they will be dented and damaged, so it is recommended to place boards under the legs of the bed.

e) City gas and propane gasElectricity or gas is provided for the stove and bathroom. There are two types of gas: town gas (coal gas), delivered to each home from gas company tanks, and propane gas, supplied by dealers in cylinder form. City gas is managed by Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. and propane gas is managed by individual distributors. gas stoves etc must be supplied by tenants.

f) Water supply and drainageAlmost all areas of Kanagawa Prefecture have water supply facilities. You can drink the tap water. In most cases there is a drain or a water purification tank. The drainage system is not suitable for disposal.

g) ToiletThe Japanese-style toilet has a lid (dome) at the front. When the bathroom is shared with other tenants, separate bathroom slippers must be worn.

h) Air conditioning/heatingSome homes have air conditioning/heating, but in most cases, tenants have to purchase their own. Heating fuel includes electricity, gas, and kerosene. Sometimes the use of kerosene is prohibited.

I) Fusuma and shojiThese are unique Japanese sliding doors to separate rooms. Fusuma is a wooden frame with fusuma paper glued on both sides. Shoji is a lattice wooden frame with shoji paper windows. It is possible to enlarge a room by removing fusuma to connect the rooms. Fusuma gluing should be done by a specialist, but when shoji paper breaks, you can buy shoji paper and repair it yourself.

4. Common problems and how to fix them

a) take off shoesDo not enter a house with your shoes on. Be sure to remove your shoes at the entrance.

b) Deposit – Most of the problems related to renting have to do with the deposit. In Japan, when you rent a house, you must pay a deposit to the owner of the house. This deposit is given to the owner of the house and is returned without interest when the lease is cancelled. However, repair costs are deducted, so the deposit is usually not returned in full. As the specific rental agreement is contained in the housing rental agreement, please review the agreement thoroughly and do not tear it up. As for the other expenses when making a contract, see page 39.

c) Number of residentsThe number of residents is confirmed when the contract is made. Additional residents are not allowed.

d) NoiseDon’t make loud noises late at night. In apartments, sound resonates more than you think. Since the sound of running a large amount of water also disturbs the neighbors, try not to bathe or do laundry late at night.

e) fartsThere are hardly any apartments that allow pets other than small birds and goldfish. If you find one where you can keep pets, follow the rules.

f) KitchenIf you cook with a lot of oil, clean up the area shortly afterward by wiping down the sink and cooking area. The ventilation fan should also be cleaned regularly.

g) Take out the trashGarbage is collected by the municipal government. In each area, the collection point, the date and the method are determined. There are areas where flammable and non-flammable garbage must be separated. As for large trash items, there are areas where the collection date is already determined, or you can sometimes arrange to have them picked up. Please consult your neighbors or the municipal government.

h) Long-term absenceWhen you are not at home for a long time, you must notify the owner of the house. The rent must be paid even when you are not there.

i) Remodeling of the roomIf you want to remodel a room, such as putting a nail in a post or putting a hook on the wall to hold clothes, you should first consult the landlord. You are supposed to leave the room in the state it was in when you rented it. If you remodel the room and cannot return it to its original condition, your deposit will not be returned or additional payments may be required.

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