A Special Tour of My Japanese Apartment
When I first visited Japan as a tourist in March last year, we booked a traditional Japanese-style hotel when visiting Hakone (highly recommend visiting!!). And I LOVED it. The cool thing was that each person was provided a kimono and slippers and we were expected to wear these around the hotel. So basically, wearing robe and slippers in a hotel! It made it feel like home.
But I also absolutely loved the move-able nature of a Japanese-style room. So when I was selecting an AirBNB for my long stay in Japan this time, I chose a more traditional Japanese-style apartment. Here is a little tour:
The Shoe Station
When you walk in, there is a little space for shoes:
In Japanese culture, it is super important to take your shoes off when entering a home. This is even a custom in a lot of businesses! I've definitely come into a workout or even a restaurant before only to see terrified looks from the staff because I didn't think to take my shoes off! You can clearly see the space in the hallway that is made for taking off your shoes - it's clearly a different color and lowered from where the actual home starts!
I personally LOVE this tradition. When I had people over to my apartments in the past in the U.S., I had to ask people to take their shoes off, trying to explain apologetically that I like to keep my home clean. I love that this is built-in to the architecture of a Japanese home!
So now that you've taken off your shoes, it's time to put on the slippers! Conveniently located in the closet right by the "take off your shoes" station:
These same type of slippers are usually waiting for you in businesses and restaurants where you're expected to take off your shoes! There are also usually different (more rubbery) slippers for trips to the bathroom - although not included in my apartment! In many restaurants, you're expected to walk to the bathroom hallway, take off your house slippers and to put on your bathroom slippers, then switch when you're done to with the bathroom!
The Living Area
When you walk into the apartment, that's where the flexible space that I love so much is!
The floor is covered by tatami mats. You will see these in restaurants and tea ceremonies and many other places around Japan! I find their simplicity beautiful!
I know the table + chair might not look great, but I actually find these to be super comfortable!!! I'm super short, so most desks aren't ergonomic for me. This table + chair combo is made for me!
You'll also see the bedding in the corner. Yes, I get to sleep on the floor!!!! And all the furniture is super easy to move around and re-arrange as needed. In bigger Japanese family houses, you also have moveable screens to separate the house into bedrooms for sleeping or just one big space for the whole family during the day!!! Again, I absolutely love that it's so easy to make the space into what you need it to be!
I'm going to say it, once you've experienced a Japanese Western-style toilet, it's hard to go back...
True story: I once accepted a job at a company because they had these toilets in all their bathrooms!!! I mean, a WARM toilet seat!!! So nice. I'll let you wander about the other settings... But the cool thing is that these are the standard toilets for most places in Japan! I once even went on a dinner boat and they had these warm toilets!!! ON A BOAT!!!
We're savages with normal toilets in the rest of the world... just saying!
Next, there is a whole bath room:
The bath room is designed for a full Japanese Onsen experience! You're supposed to fill the tub. Shower to clean off, then enter the tub! From what I was reading, the water in the tub is used by the whole family - each person showers to clean themselves off, then enters the water.
It might sound weird, but this is the same system used in Japanese Onsen - bath houses. You shower yourself off, then enter the shared hot-tub spring water. So if you've ever been in a hot tub with other people - this is basically set up like that! But cleaner since each person is required to be clean before entering the water!
As a Westerner, I personally just use it as a shower. But notice how short but super deep the tub is! Very cozy!
Oh, and you can make it a steam room (and other things). If you can figure out how to use this control panel...
My little studio has a tiny regular kitchen unit build in to go with it - stove, sink, mini-fridge, microwave, tea-kettle, but what I love is the utensils drawer:
I just love that chopsticks take up a whole 1/3 of the utensils tray with a bunch of them, while the few forks and spoons are grouped together! Who needs those?!!!
And it's always a pleasure to find these pretty origami-pattern bowls!
I LOVE my Japanese apartment! In fact, it immediately felt like home to me. When I had to leave for family stuff for a week and a half, I thought of this apartment as coming back home!