When I came to Japan for the first time, the size of the apartment perplexed me. I questioned how am I going to adjust in this tiny den? In my homeland I have a big house with bigger rooms and a lot more space everywhere. So my initial reaction to the apartment in Japan was not positive. I even thought when you are paying so much for an apartment you should get enough space for yourself.
Now, after living for years in this small apartment, my mindset towards bigger apartments has changed. My preference has totally shifted towards small apartments as long as they are comfortable, as they are in Japan. Let me discuss here what I appreciate the most about these small apartments-
1.Sliding doors and windows- The best thing about the apartments in Japan is the sliding doors and windows. You won’t realize unless you have experienced how convenient the sliding doors and windows are. They are smart in space management as they won’t occupy any of your room spaces. Sometimes, after sliding one of the doors you get to connect two rooms that are separated by this mere door, allowing you more space whenever needed.
2.Safe for children- Another advantage of these apartments is that they are built with light materials. They do not have concrete walls or floors and the use of sharp materials anywhere is very limited. This makes the living environment for children very safe and sound. Even when they bang their head against the wall or floors, they are likely to pose themselves the least harm; unlike houses made of concrete materials. Also these materials used are good both for summer and for winter. In summer the house remains cool, while in winter it is relatively warmer even without central heating.
3.Spacious wardrobes - Even though the apartments are small, people know that women need a lot of room for their clothes! So the wardrobes/ closets are big enough for arranging clothes. I really appreciate this aspect of Japanese apartments. I call these closets 'the women friendly ones'. Similarly, there are small cupboards and drawers and hidden storage areas in kitchen, laundry space etc., which looks small but comes in very handy to store your goods.
4.Saves cleaning time- One big advantage of having a small apartment is it saves a lot of your cleaning time. The cleaning chores becomes very light also because the flooring materials are easy to clean. Plus, when you have less space you do not tend to accumulate unnecessary furniture, giving you more open space and making the cleaning job lot easier. Less furniture means less wiping and less dusting!
5.Saves energy- Since the rooms are small, it saves a lot of energy when it comes to heating or cooling off the rooms. You can warm up your room so well in less than 15 minutes and same applies when you plan to cool off your room. This is a big advantage of having small rooms in apartments in Japan.
6.Separate bathrooms and toilets- Japanese apartments usually have separate bathrooms and toilets even though they are small in size. However small your bathroom may be you always have the novelty of a bathing tub as taking a bath is an inseparable part of Japanese lifestyle and tradition. Having bathrooms and toilets separately is such a convenient thing because if you are under pressure to use the toilet you do not have to bang the door of bathroom to annoy the person in bath.
Yet, there are still times when I would sometimes wish for a bigger apartment especially while having a gathering at home. But, since everyone coming to our gatherings have similar sized apartments no one minds the limited space. Sometimes it is even nicer to have less space because then people get to sit close by and that avoids the risks of group-ism. The sense of community and intimacy is even stronger when everyone is at eye’s reach.
Now I have become a believer of “small is beautiful”. If I ever build my new apartment in my home country I would like to follow the Japanese style. If planned well with excellent ideas of space management you can make most out of the tiny apartments.