Jul 7, 2018

The Individuality of Japanese Houses

I was reading the other day that Japan has one of the highest numbers of registered architects per capita in the world, and my morning walk made me think about that a little more.

I took a look at the row of homes across the fields from us, and even though they’re part of a new housing development, no two homes are alike. See for yourself:

The Individuality of Japanese Houses photo

Certainly, some appear to be designed by the same architect and builder, but each is tailor-made for its occupants.

That’s a far cry from what I’m used to back in the states, where track housing and standardization under homeowners associations have become the norm. It’s interesting, because you would think that Japanese society, so generally pegged as being centrally focused on the community over the individual, has such uniqueness in each home, while the U.S. that champions the individual demands compliance over things as silly as how many trees should be in a yard.

Of course, there’s downsides to the Japanese way of doing things. Poor zoning laws means that folks can build multi-story apartments in an area primary full of single family homes. It also means that you could end up with a wacky assortment of house shapes, colors, and landscaping.

While the interspersing of apartment buildings among individual houses is something I’m not a huge fan of, I do like the charm of a neighborhood with all different architectural designs. With it, each home becomes a representation of its occupants, and there’s something endearing about that.

I’ve often thought about buying a home here in Japan, and while it seems like an overwhelming prospect to have to do all of the negotiations and coordination with banks and builders in a foreign language, I enjoy the idea of having a home designed specifically for my own family and best suited for local climate—in my case, the harsh winters and hot summer’s characteristic of my Niigata home. 

I’ll probably be back here on city-cost to ask for specific advice on buying a home in Japan, but in the meantime, I welcome your thoughts on houses here in Japan in the comments section below!



Hitting the books once again as a Ph.D. student in Niigata Prefecture. Although I've lived in Japan many years, life as a student in this country is a first.

Blessed Dad. Lucky Husband. Happy Gaijin (most of the time).

1 Comment

  • edthethe

    on Jul 7

    I was thinking about this the other day too! the house we bought is one of four on this street all built at the same time. they all look similar but not one is the same. however, all 4 look odd nestled in the made to order houses of our neighbors.