Japan includes modern and traditional styles. Two patterns
of residences are predominant in contemporary Japan: the single-family
detached house and the multiple-unit building, either owned by an
individual or corporation and rented as apartments to tenants, or
owned by occupants. Additional kinds of housing, especially for
unmarried people, include boarding houses (which are popular among
college students), dormitories (common in companies), and barracks
(for members of the Self-Defense Forces, police and some other public
An unusual feature of Japanese housing is that houses are presumed to
have a limited lifespan, and are generally torn down and rebuilt after
a few decades, generally twenty years for wooden buildings and thirty
years for concrete buildings – see regulations for details.
1 Housing statistics
3 Interior design
3.1 Traditional homes
3.2 Modern homes
3.8 One room mansion
6.1 Construction materials
6.2 Housing regulations
7 Living patterns
8 Home ownership
9 Home and apartment rental
9.1 Guest houses
10 Company housing
11 Traditional housing
14 Further reading
15 External links
Figures from the 2012 Housing and Land Survey conducted by the
Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications indicate that Japan
had 53,890,900 housing units at the time. Of these, 46,862,900 (86.9%)
were occupied and 7,027,900 (13.0%) unoccupied. Of the occupied units,
28,665,900 (61.2%) were owned by the resident household. The average
number of rooms per unit of housing was 4.77, the average total floor
area was 94.85 square meters (28.69 tsubo; 1,021.0 sq ft)
and the average number of people per room was 0.56. 45,258,000
units (96.6%) were used exclusively for living and 1,605,000 units
(3.4%) were used both for living and commercial purposes. Of the units
used exclusively for living, 10,893,000 (24.1%) were equipped with an
automatic smoke detector. As of 2003, 17,180,000 housing units (36.7%)
are classified by the
Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs and
Communication as being located in urban areas while 27,553,000 housing
units (58.8%) are located in rural areas.
As in America, most Japanese live in single-family housing. During
the postwar period, the number of multi-unit dwellings in Japan
increased rapidly. In 1990, for instance, 60% of Japanese dwellings
consisted of single-family homes, compared with 77% in 1958. Two
years earlier, in 1988, 62.3% of the total housing units in
single-family units and 37.7% were multiple-unit dwellings. That
same year, a survey carried out by the Japanese economic planning
agency showed that 62.3 per cent of the Japanese population owned a
detached two-storeyed house.
In the 1980s, a new home in
Japan cost 5-8 times the annual income of
the average Japanese, and 2-3 times that of an average American.
The typical loan term for Japanese homes was 20 years, with a 35% down
payment, while in the
United States it was 30 years and 25%, due to
differing practices in their financial markets.
A survey conducted by the Management and Coordination Agency in 1983
found that there were 34.75 million occupied dwellings in Japan, of
which 46.1% were built of timber, 31.3% of fireproof timber, and 22.6%
of ferroconcrete or other nontimber materials. The same survey found
that detached housing accounted for 64.3% off all housing in Japan,
with the ratio falling in urban areas. In the 23 wards of Tokyo, for
instance, multi-unit structures such as apartment houses accounted for
62.5% of all housing in those wards. In terms of tenure, 62.4% of
Japan consisted of owner-occupied dwellings, 24.3% of units
leased by the private sector, 7.6% of units leased by the public
sector, and 5.2% of housing for government workers and company
According to a housing survey carried out in 1993, single-family homes
accounted for 59.2% of all housing in Japan. In 1997, it was
estimated that about 60% of Japanese lived in detached houses. In
1998, 52% of all dwellings in
Japan were found to consist of detached
houses owned by their residents, 36% were rented dwellings in
apartment complexes, 8% were owned dwellings in apartments complexes,
and 4% were rented detached houses. In 2008, it was estimated that
six out of ten Japanese lived in single-family houses.
Main article: Danchi
A danchi in
Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima built in the Shōwa period
Danchi (団地, lit. "group land") is the Japanese word for a large
cluster of apartment buildings of a particular style and design,
typically built as public housing by a government authority.
Japan Housing Corporation (JHC), now known as the Urban
Renaissance Agency (UR), was founded in 1955. During the 1950s, 60s,
and 70s, the JHC built many danchi in suburban areas to offset the
housing demand of the then-increasing Japanese population.
Kusakabe House, built in 1879, Takayama
A traditional Japanese house does not have a designated use for each
room aside from the entrance area (genkan, 玄関), kitchen, bathroom,
and toilet. Any room can be a living room, dining room, study, or
bedroom. This is possible because all the necessary furniture is
portable, being stored in oshiire, a small section of the house (large
closets) used for storage. It is important to note that in Japan,
living room is expressed as ima, living "space". This is because the
size of a room can be changed by altering the partitioning. Large
traditional houses often have only one ima (living room/space) under
the roof, while kitchen, bathroom, and toilet are attached on the side
of the house as extensions.
Somewhat similar to modern offices, partitions within the house are
created by fusuma, sliding doors made from wood and paper, which are
portable and easily removed.
Fusuma seal each partition from top to
bottom so it can create a mini room within the house. On the edge of a
house are rōka, wooden floored passages, that are similar to
hallways. Rōka and ima are partitioned by shōji, sliding and
portable doors that are also made from paper and wood. Unlike fusuma,
paper used for shōji is very thin so outside light can pass through
into the house. This was before glass began to be used for sliding
doors. Rōka and outside of the house are either partitioned by walls
or portable wooden boards that are used to seal the house at night.
Extended roofs protect the rōka from getting wet when it rains,
except during typhoon season where the house gets sealed completely.
Roofs of traditional houses in
Japan are made of wood and clay, with
tiles or thatched areas on top.
For large gatherings, these partitions are removed to create one large
meeting room. During a normal day, partitions can create much smaller
and more manageable living spaces. Therefore, kitchen, bathroom,
toilet, and genkan with one multipurpose living space create one
complete Japanese housing unit. However, the bathroom, toilet, and
even kitchen can be communal. (See Sentō.) Therefore, the minimum
Japanese housing arrangement, which is still possible to find if one
is looking for the cheapest room to rent, consists of just genkan and
one living room/space.
Housing is typically listed in real estate advertisements in the
format of a number of rooms plus letter designators indicating the
presence of common room areas, for example: 1R or 2LDK. R designating
room, L for living room, D for dining room, and K for kitchen. In this
format, the bathroom and toilet are not mentioned but are included
with the exception of some very small 1R or 1Ks. L, D and K are not
really separate and are part of or next to the kitchen. An LDK is
bigger than a DK. The number before the letters indicates the number
of additional multipurpose rooms. Often the rooms are separated by
removable sliding doors, fusuma, so large single rooms can be created.
Additionally, advertisements quote the sizes of the rooms—most
importantly, the living room—with measurements in tatami mats (jō
(畳) in Japanese), traditional mats woven from rice straw that are
standard sizes: 176 cm by 88 cm (5 feet, 9 inches by 35
inches) in the
Tokyo region and 191 cm by 95.5 cm in western
Japan. "2DK; one six-tatami Japanese-style room, one six-tatami
Western-style room" is an example.
In Japan, multiple-unit blocks are referred to as one of two types:
Apaato (アパート） (or Apartment) for rented unit buildings,
which are usually only a few stories in height, without a central
Mansion (マンション) usually purchased type expensive buildings
(but recently some have been rented due to large vacancies) with
multiple floors, elevators, and a communal secure gate, with
centralized postboxes; they are usually more sturdily built than
apaato, normally of reinforced concrete (RC) construction.
Though commonly accepted standards for description exist, this is not
a legal requirement; therefore, descriptions may not be entirely
Main article: Genkan
One characteristic of a Japanese home is the genkan, or entryway. It
includes a small area, at the same level as the outside, where
arriving people remove their shoes. As they take off their shoes,
people step up onto a raised floor. They point the tips of their shoes
to the outside. The rest of the residence is at the raised level of
this floor. Adjacent to the lower floor is a shelf or cabinet called a
getabako (geta box) in which people will place their shoes. Slippers
for indoor use are usually placed there.
Main article: Japanese kitchen
Japanese kitchen features appliances such as a stove, a
narrow fish grill (broiler), and an electric refrigerator. The
stovetop may be built-in or may be a self-contained unit on a
counter-top, and it is usually gas-burning, although recently
induction heating (IH) stovetops have become popular. Common units of
all types of stoves include two to four burners. Broilers designed for
cooking fish are usually part of the stove and are located below, and
unlike many Western-style grills, are not full width. Built-in ovens
large enough to bake or roast are uncommon; in their place, table-top
multifunction convection microwaves are used. Most kitchens have
electric exhaust fans. Furnishings commonly include microwave ovens,
hot water boilers, and electric toaster ovens. Built-in dishwashers
are rare, although some kitchens may have small dishwashers or
dishdryers. The kitchen includes running water, typically with hot and
See also: Sentō
Japanese housing typically has multiple rooms for what in Western
housing is the bathroom. Separate rooms for the Japanese toilet, sink,
and ofuro (bathing room) are common. Small apartments, however,
frequently contain a tiny single bathroom called a unit bath that
contains all three fixtures. A small sink may also be built into the
top of the toilet tank – there is a tap, with the top of the tank
forming the sink, and the water draining into the tank – which runs
during the flush cycle; this is particularly common in mid-20th
century buildings. The room with the sink, which is called a clothes
changing room, usually includes a space for a clothes-washing machine.
The room containing the bathtub is waterproof with a space for
washing, and often for showering, adjacent to (rather than in) the
tub. As a result, bathwater is neither soapy nor dirty, and can be
reused. Many washing machines in
Japan come with an extension pipe to
draw water from the tub for the wash.
Hot water usually comes from a gas or kerosene heater. The heater is
usually located outdoors (at least in warm climates). Its gas supply
may be from a municipal utility or from LP (Liquid Petroleum) tanks on
site. The typical Japanese water heater is tankless and heats water on
demand. One heater may supply both bath and kitchen. However, many
homes have two or more heaters. Recently, electric water heaters
(Eco-friendly ones) have been introduced for home owners. These
eco-friendly electric water heaters heat the water in a tank during
mid night hours (when electricity is cheapest) for use the following
Modern homes in
Japan will have a small washing machine, but most will
not have a clothes dryer as most Japanese hang dry clothes in the
balcony  or in the bathroom that is heated. Laundromats are found
throughout Japan. Many small apartments don't have room to place a
washing machine and/or dryer. Likewise, even for homes with washing
machines, only a small percentage have dryers. As such, during rainy
season, or on days when it rains and they wash clothes, many people
take their clothes to the laundromat to wash and/or dry their clothes.
A tatami room with shoji.
Many homes include at least one traditional Japanese styled room, or
washitsu. It features tatami flooring, shoji rather than draperies
covering the window, fusuma (opaque sliding vertical partitions)
separating it from the other rooms, an oshiire (closet) with two
levels (for storing futon), and a wooden ceiling. It might be
unfurnished, and function as a family room during the day and a
bedroom at night. Many washitsu have sliding glass doors opening onto
a deck or balcony.
Other bedrooms, as well as living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens,
are in a Western style. They usually have modern synthetic floor
coverings. Ceilings are typically also synthetic, and might be white
or beige. Windows usually open by sliding laterally, although many
kitchen windows open by tilting, with the bottom slanting outwards.
One room mansion
Further information: Microapartment
A one-room mansion (wan rūmu manshon ワンルームマンション)
is a Japanese apartment style in which there is only one small room
(10 m2 or 3.0 tsubo or 110 sq ft in many cases) and
usually a compact bathroom. It is the functional equivalent of the
Western-style studio apartment. These units are most often rented by
single individuals due to their extremely small size; it is hard for
more than one person to reside in them. Most of Japan's city apartment
blocks have rooms such as these although family units (around 60 to
90 m2 or 18 to 27 tsubo or 650 to 970 sq ft in size)
are more common, especially in the suburbs.
Hearth in a traditional Japanese house in Honshū.
A modern kerosene space heater.
Space heating, rather than central heating, is normal in Japanese
homes. Kerosene, gas, and electric units are common. Apartments are
often rented without heating or cooling equipment but with empty duct
space run, allowing the installation of heat pump units. Occupants
purchase appliances and take them when they move.
Traditional Japanese buildings do not use insulation, and insulation
may even be omitted in modern construction, especially in the low-end
apartments; nor is insulated glazing traditionally used in windows,
with these being generally single-pane. This is not the case in
Hokkaido and the northern part of Honshū, due to the cold winters
there. Insulated and centrally heated homes in the northern part of
Japan are warmer than many homes in warmer parts of
Japan and often
use double-pane glass. This is not the case for the newer
buildings as they are insulated and built with insulated glazing.
The simplest kerosene burner has a tank for fuel, a mantle, and a
control dial. Battery-operated electric ignition is a popular step up.
The next rank has an electric fan to circulate hot air through the
room. Many such units feature computer control of temperature. The
computer can also turn them on and off on schedule. Gas heaters are
popular, and many homes have gas outlets in rooms to accommodate
portable units. Windows in many homes have vents to open to protect
the occupants from excessive exhaust gas. Kerosene and gas units have
safety features to turn off the fire and cut off the fuel supply when
the heater receives a shake, whether from an accident or earthquake.
These units usually shut off automatically after two or three hours to
prevent carbon monoxide fumes from building up while the resident is
Another type of kerosene heater functions similar to a radiator and
consists of two parts. Kerosene fuel is stored in a tank and burned
outside the home, and the flame heats a fluid that is circulated into
the second unit inside the house. In this unit, fans blow across the
tubes carrying the heated fluid, and the room is warmed as a result.
This type of heater is popular since it reduces the fumes
significantly and virtually eliminates the risk of carbon monoxide
poisoning as well as the chance of a small child or pet accidentally
Electric heat is typically delivered through heat pump units mounted
on the ceilings or the walls, such as above the doors to the deck or
balcony, rather than through baseboards. These heaters often do double
duty as air-conditioners and are accordingly called eakon
(エアコン). Thermostatic control and timers are available in most
lines. The manufacturers of electric and electronic appliances produce
In northern Japan, underfloor heating yukadanbō (床暖房)
(literally, floor heater) is common, a type of radiating heater
beneath the floor, where heated fluids are circulated to provide
Underfloor heating is found in houses or condominiums in the
warmer parts of
Japan but not for apartments. The cost is expensive,
so sometimes this type of heater is only installed in limited areas
such as living room or "clothes changing room". Electric carpets have
become popular in recent years.
Toilet seats are frequently warmed by electric heat.
Finally, a traditional type of heater known as a kotatsu is still
widely used today. The kotatsu can come in multiple forms, but the
more common is as an electric heating element attached to the
underside of a low table: The table is typically surrounded by a light
duvet-like cloth to keep the heat in. This type of table is common in
See also: Electricity sector in Japan
This outlet has a port for grounding an air conditioning unit.
Most Japanese dwellings are connected to the nation's power grid by
using 3-wire system with standard phase-neutral voltage of 100 V. 100
V AC outlets are located throughout the home for general use. Few 200
V outlets may also exist for connecting induction heating stove or
large air conditioner. The line frequency is 50 Hz in eastern
Japan, and 60 Hz in the western part of the country. Circuit
breakers of 30 to 60 amperes is typical for most electrical
Many domestic appliances operate properly at either frequency
(auto-sensing). Outlets resemble those formerly used in the North
America (see comparison), with two vertical slots. The older outlets
are un-polarized and many sockets lack proper grounding. Outlets in
the kitchen, toilet, and bathroom, as well as those supplied by the
ceiling for air-conditioning units do usually have a third grounding
terminal, either in the form of a 3-pin outlet or a covered binding
port. Devices designed for use with water, such as clothes washers and
heated toilet seats, often have a separate earth wire or earth ground
Cheater plug adapters are readily available to convert such 3-pin
plugs and so allow their use in all types of 2-pin sockets.
Since 2005, new Japanese homes are required to have 3-pin earthed
outlets for connecting domestic appliances. This rule does not apply
for the outlets not intended to be used for domestic appliances, but
it is strongly advised to have 3-pin outlets throughout the home.
100V polarized outlet (JIS C 8303; 15A125V)
3-pin grounded outlet (JIS C 8303 15A125V)
3-pin high amperage outlet, typically used for air conditioners (JIS C
200V grounded outlet, typically used for stoves and larger air
conditioners (JIS C 8303; 20A250V)
Lighting equipment, like heaters, is normally the provenance of the
occupant. Many homes do not include built-in ceiling lights in the
living, dining, and bedrooms. Instead, they have ceiling receptacles
that provide both electrical connection and mechanical support for
lighting equipment. There are four common types of ceiling connectors
and these will generally also support the weight of the light fitting.
Kitchens, bathrooms, corridors and genkan are likely to have built-in
Lighting is generally by fluorescent lamps and LED lamps, and most
frequently in living areas features a 4-way switch. The lamp has two
separate circular fluorescent tubes, together with a nightlight
(formally 常夜灯, informally a ナツメ球, natume-kyū,
"jujube-bulb" (so-named for the shape)), and the switch cycles between
"both bulbs on", "only one bulb on", "night light only" and "off".
Replaceable glow starters (formally 点灯管, informally グロー球
gurō-kyū "glow bulb") are common in the older fixtures.
Outside of the downtown areas of large cities, many Japanese people
park their cars at or near their homes. Some single-family houses have
built-in garages; others have carports or unsheltered spaces on the
Apartment and condominium buildings frequently have parking
lots, some occupying (for example) the first floor (i.e. at ground
level) of the building, others outdoors. Elevator parking allows
double use of limited space: one car parks below ground level, with an
elevator raising it when needed; the other parks at ground level. More
elaborate elevator arrangements are also in use. Residents also lease
parking spaces at vacant lots in the neighborhood, generally on a
monthly basis, called tsukigime chūsha (月極駐車, monthly
Foundation for a new house
Many single-family residences are constructed by nationwide
manufacturers such as Matsushita (under the name PanaHome), Misawa
Home, Mitsui, and
Sumitomo Forestry. Some such companies maintain
parks with model homes to show to prospective buyers. The builders of
a condominium may open a unit to show prospective buyers;
alternatively, they may construct a separate model room elsewhere.
Makers of appliances similarly operate showrooms to display their
A retail display shows a variety of ceramic roofing tile styles.
For freestanding houses, wood frames are popular. Two-by-four
construction is an alternative to the native style. Houses may be clad
in siding or faced with ceramic tile. Interiors often have drywall,
painted or with a wall covering. Tile is a common roofing material; it
may be fired clay or concrete. Clay tiles often bear a color and a
Large buildings are typically constructed of reinforced concrete.
Roofs coverings include asphalt and synthetics.
The usual maximum allowed height of a wooden building in
Japan is two
stories; however, using some new technology, some three story wooden
buildings are currently allowed (if they meet the building codes).
Some wooden houses may have lofts, but these may not be used as
bedrooms, only for storage space. Steel and concrete buildings may
have more stories, but usually they only have two. Basements are
uncommon in private homes but common in high-rise buildings.
The footage which can be built-upon is regulated according to a system
involving two figures: building coverage ratio (建蔽率,
kenpeiritsu) and floor area ratio (容積率, yōsekiritsu). Building
coverage ratio is the ratio of the building footprint compared to the
total area of the land. These two figures are often listed in
advertisements for plots of land such as 70:400 (where 70 means
the building coverage ratio is 70% and 400 is the floor area ratio or
400%). This would mean that a 4-story home could be built using 70% of
the land. Thus, for a maximum allowable coverage ratio of 50%, the
greatest building footprint allowed for a lot of 100m2 would be 50m2.
Floor area ratio is the total floor area of the house (excluding the
roof and basement) as compared to the area of land the house is built
upon; for a maximum FAR of 150%, the greatest possible total floor
area for a house built on a 100m2 lot would be 150m2. Both maximum
values vary according to the location of the land and width of facing
roadway, with more built-up areas with wider roads generally allowing
greater maximum floorspace, and building coverage dictated by factors
such as frontage, nearby roads, and construction materials.
Additionally, the number of floors in a structure may be restricted,
in order to avoid excessive blockage of light to neighboring
The taxable value of a house is controlled by its building material.
Wooden houses are considered to have a lifespan of twenty years, and
concrete ones to have a lifespan of thirty years, and the assessed
price depreciates each year contrary to housing markets in other
nations. Most real estate agents also use this pricing policy as a
rough guide. Although there are still some wooden
homes almost 100 years old with thatched roofs and concrete buildings
well over the 30 year depreciation price, taxing is based upon the
See also: Migration in Japan
Many young Japanese adults choose to live with their parents, rather
than seeking a separate residence, a phenomenon known as parasite
singles (パラサイトシングル). A 1998 survey by the Ministry
of Health and Welfare indicated that about 60% of single Japanese men
and 80% of single women between the ages of 20 and 34 lived with their
After marriage, the young couple often live in the same house as their
parents. A desire for some separation between the generations has led
to the phenomenon of nisedaijūtaku (二世代住宅), literally "two
generation housing", a single house which contains two complete
separate living areas, one for the parents and one for the younger
Conversely, in large metropolitan areas of Japan, it is no longer
uncommon for young couples to co-habit in an apartment before they
Traditionally, the elderly also continue to live with their children
rather than being put into homes for the elderly. The responsibility
for the parent usually falls onto the oldest male child or atotsugi
(跡継ぎ). The number of elderly people living at home has led to a
great demand for care products for home use, and also the so-called
"barrier-free" housing, which contains fewer steps and obstacles for
Apartment sharing between strangers is rare in Japan, most single
people preferring to live in small sized individual apartments.
However, in recent years, as
Japan is undergoing demographic and
socioeconomic change, it is becoming more common for young people to
Apartment designs are many and varied. An older
pattern for single occupancy is a long thin, shoe-box shaped
apartment, with a kitchen area and bathroom located often near the
genkan and a living space/bedroom at the opposite end where a small
balcony may be located.
Japanese companies and organizations often send their male employees
to various locations throughout Japan. It is not always possible or
desirable for the entire family unit to move near the employee's new
job site. In this case, small apartments are rented by married men who
then travel to the family home either every weekend, once every two
weeks or once a month depending on the distance and the company
Because of the high cost of housing in major Japanese cities, many
urban families and individuals rent apartments rather than owning
their own home. In 2003, less than half of the living units in Tokyo
were owned by the resident. On the other hand, rural areas tend to
have much higher ownership rates. The highest rate in the country is
Toyama Prefecture, with around 80% of all living units being owned by
The living space of houses and condominiums is larger than apartments.
The average size of an owned residence in
Japan is 121.7 m2 (36.8
tsubo; 1,310 sq ft). This varies wildly between major urban
areas (Tokyo: 91.0 m2 or 27.5 tsubo or 980 sq ft) and
rural areas (Toyama Prefecture: 178.4 m2 or 54.0 tsubo or
1,920 sq ft). The area of homes that are advertised for sale
or rental is commonly listed in the Japanese unit tsubo (坪), which
is approximately the area of two tatami mats (3.3 m2 or
36 sq ft). On diagrams of the house, individual room sizes
are usually measured in tatami, as described above in the interior
In recent years, condos/mansions have become more and more popular.
Compared to 1983, when 64% of owned homes were single-family
dwellings, and only 27% were condos, more recent statistics show that
the latter make up around 40% of the category now.
As houses age, owners replace them. A common pattern is to rebuild on
the same site. To accomplish this, the occupants move to a temporary
residence. A contractor demolishes the old structure and builds a new
one on the grounds. The residents can then return to the location. Not
having moved, they enjoy the convenience of keeping the same address,
telephone number, and utility accounts, as well as avoid the cost of
purchasing new land. Because of the wooden construction and relatively
short lifespan of Japanese houses, this is often considered cheaper
than maintaining the old structure.
Home and apartment rental
A two-story Japanese rental apartment building in Karatsu, Saga.
To rent an apartment in Japan, would-be tenants visit real estate
agents located in every neighborhood and browse through copies of
apartments for rent. These usually have the layout of the apartment
for rent and the costs to rent this apartment. If a would-be tenant is
interested in a particular apartment, the agent contacts the landlord
to see if the apartment is still available and whether a visit could
be arranged. Typically, a renter cannot rent an apartment on her or
his own, but is required to have a guarantor who promises to pay the
rent if problems arise.
Traditionally, Japanese landlords collect both a damage deposit and
"key money" before the renter takes occupancy, and the real estate
agent is also paid a month's rent for services provided.
Key money is
a non-refundable payment to the landlord. In major cities like Tokyo
and Osaka, key money is often a major investment in itself: up to six
months' rent in many cases. In recent years many landlords have begun
demanding smaller amounts of key money, equal to two or three months'
rent or none at all. An industry of no-deposit apartments, called
monthly mansion and weekly mansion, has also sprouted up in major
cities: these generally charge higher rents than traditional leases,
and may offer some hotel-style amenities such as linen service.
In Tokyo, a typical rental agreement is for one year.
Each year, this agreement is re-negotiated, and the renter pays an
additional month's rent as a fee. In many other cities, however, the
one-year agreement is regarded simply as a minimum length of stay, and
the rent does not normally change over the years. However, as
buildings get older and more repairs are required, or as government
tax rates go up, a rent increase does occasionally occur.
Japan renting apartments on their own often face
discrimination from real estate agents or landlords who refuse to rent
to foreigners. Some agents will explain to foreigners directly
that it is difficult to rent to them. Finding a guarantor is also
difficult for many foreigners. Living in a Guest
House is one way to
circumvent these problems. Sometimes referred to as "Gaijin Houses"
(meaning foreign persons' house), Guest Houses come in a variety of
shapes and sizes. They are designed to provide short-term
accommodation at reasonable prices with a minimum of hassle. Usually
aimed at foreign visitors, they are becoming increasingly popular with
young Japanese seeking to break with the tradition of living with
parents until, and sometimes after, marriage. While deposits are
payable in most cases they tend to be low and the famous Japanese key
money is not charged for these properties. A guest house will provide
one room for sleeping, a shared kitchen and shared bathroom.
Facilities like washing machines are usually coin-operated, but due to
intense competition many landlords are seeking to provide as many free
utilities as they can; free internet is almost a given in
days. Typically, foreigners and Japanese are finding it harder to find
guest houses and have been opting for small apartments: "apaato".
Many Japanese companies also maintain their own apartment buildings
(called shataku) where young employees live when they first start
working. Sometimes, the shataku is located near the company's office
building. In other cases, the company may not own its own apartment
complex, but hold an exclusive lease over one or more independent
apartment buildings. In 2003, there were nearly 1.5 million shataku
units in Japan.
Depending on the company policy, some shataku are one-room and only
available to single people while other companies offer larger
multi-room complexes available to married couples as well. Likewise,
there may or may not be a maximum duration which you can lease the
shataku, but that too is up to company policy. Some offer the room
until the employee marries, others will only offer it for the first 3,
4, 5 or more years of employment. It varies from company to company.
A model of traditional house in Kyoto
A traditional house in
Okinawa Prefecture has the red tile roof
characteristic of the region.
Historically, commoners typically lived either in free-standing
houses, now known as minka, or, predominantly in cities, in machiya
(町屋) or row-houses called nagaya (長屋). Examples are still
visible in Kyoto. Additional dwelling patterns included the samurai
residence, the homes of wealthy farmers (such as the village headmen),
and the residences of Buddhist temples.
Wood was the material of choice for structures, while roofs could be
thatch, cypress bark, tile, or bare wood. Raised floors were of wood,
and might be covered with straw mats in places. Kitchens usually had
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reported  in 2003 that
Japan had 25,296 homeless people. Osaka, Tokyo, and Aichi were the
prefectures with the highest homeless populations, while the city of
23 special wards
23 special wards of Tokyo, and the city of Nagoya had 1750
or more (no other city had 850). The ministry found that about 41%
lived in urban parks and 23% along river banks; streets and railway
stations also had significant numbers.
^ Guide to Official Statistics in Japan: Housing and Land Survey
Japan Statistical Yearbook, 2007
^ A history of
Japan by Conrad D. Totman
^ Japanese landscapes: where land & culture merge by Cotton
Mather, Pradyumna Prasad Karan, and Shigeru Iijima
^ Home possessions: material culture behind closed doors by Daniel
^ The Japanese Economy
Japan of Today, Published in 1989 by The International Society
for Educational Information, Inc.
^ Family change and housing in post-war Japanese society: the
experiences of older women by Misa Izuhara
Japan in the 21st century: environment, economy, and society by
Pradyumna Prasad Karan, and Dick Gilbreath
^ Yamashita, Tsutomu (2007-12-09). "Showa 30s Movie Revives Interest
in Danchi". column. Asahi Shimbun. p. 15.
^ Japanese Housing Conditions: City of Yokohama (PDF), archived from
the original (PDF) on May 7, 2007
^ a b c Ask an Architect: Insulation, néojaponisme
^ 内線規程改訂に対応するコンセント Archived 2012-12-03
at the Wayback Machine. (in Japanese)
^ Summary of the Report on the National Investigation of the Condition
of the Homeless, in Japanese, retrieved April 9, 2006
Edward S. Morse
Edward S. Morse (1838–1925): Japanese homes and their surroundings,
published by Charles E. Tuttle company, ISBN 0-8048-0998-4
Sven Ingmar Thies: Japanese Rooms — Intimate interiors of Japanese
living in Tokyo, Berlin, New York, Shanghai and Vienna, Berlin:
Schwarzerfreitag (publ.) 2007, ISBN 978-3-937623-90-0
Ann Waswo: Housing in Postwar Japan: A Social History. London:
Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0-7007-1517-7
Koji Yagi (text), Ryo Hata (photos): A Japanese Touch For Your Home.
Kodansha International, Tokyo, New York, London 1999 (Pbck.),
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Houses in Japan.
Housing Construction Statistics—Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and
Transport, updated November 10, 2005.
Japan (See the 'Settlements' section)
The Japanese Nationality Room—
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JAANUS Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System
 Landlord-Tenant Relations and Law
Nihon Minka-en in
Kawasaki, Kanagawa is a collection of traditional
"The recent controversial rough sleepers provisions in
Japan"[permanent dead link] Information on homelessn