1. Japanese apartments
1.Types of apartment buildings

There are 3 types of apartment buildings in Japan:

Apartment (apato) This type of building is made of wood, or light steel. It is usually only two stories or less. Walls are thin, and you can usually hear noise from neighbors' homes.
Mansion This type of building tends to have three or more stories, and be made of a steel framework and reinforced concrete. Rent is typically higher than the 'apato'.
Kashiya This type of apartment building is also called 'ikkodate', and is a house on a lease or loan.


2.About different floor plans

Some typical Japanese style floor plans are outlined below


This type of apartment usually has a bedroom/kitchen combination, and a bath/toilet combination room. The average size is 16m2~20m2.


Although the size of the apartment is almost identical to a 1ROOM, in a 1K the bedroom and kitchen are seperated.
A 1DK has a bedroom, and a kitchen/dining room combination. The overall size is slightly larger than a 1ROOM or 1K.

A 1LDK has a seperated bedroom and living room. The common size of an apartment of this type is 40m2~60m2.
A 1SLDK is almost identical to a 1LDK room, except that is has a large walk-in size closet.

In names of the rooms listed above, the number reperesents the number of rooms in the apartment. .K means kitchen. D is dining room, L is living room, and S is storage. Floor plans are described with different combinations of these. For example, 2SDK is a two room apartment with dining, kitchen, and large closet space.

3.Types of flooring

Japanese apartments may have one of several types of flooring:

Tatami If you are familiar with Judo, you may have heard of 'tatami'. It is the traditional type of flooring used in Japan, and is a kinitted mat made of a plant called Igusa (rush). Igusa is said to have a gentle calming scent, so tatami rooms are ideal for relaxing in. As an added benifit, tatami is soundproof!
Flooring 'Flooring' is made of wooden board. Although is tends to look neat, it scratches easily, and it not soundproof.
Cushioned floor Cushioned floor is floorboard covered in a type of plastic. Since it is rather soft, it won't hold up well in a fire. On the plus side, it's waterproof.
Carpet Carpeting is effectively soundproof and, of course, very comfortable. On the down side, since Japan is so humid, carpet owners need to be wary of ticks and other bugs breeding in their flooring. Carpet is also very hard to keep clean. These two reasons are why rental rooms with carpeting are so rarely found in Japan.

4. Apartment measurements
There are generally 3 measuring units used to measure apartments in Japan.

Square meter
1 tsubo=about 3.3m2 or 2 jo
1 JO=about 1.65m2、0.5 tsubo


Recently, there has been alot of talk about the benifits of tatami flooring!
In Japan, the most popular types of flooring have always been wood 'flooring' and tatami mat. As Japan is becoming more modernized (and in becoming so, more Westernized) more and more people are begining to choose wood flooring over the traditional tatami. Therefore, the numbers of tatami rooms are dwindling away.

But recently, there has been alot of talk about the benifits of tatami flooring! For one, since Tatami insulates heat, a tatami floored room is cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Moreover, tatami mats are easier to clean and far more sanitary than carpet. They are more effectively sound proof than wooden flooring. A Tatami room is very versatile, and can be used as many rooms in one. For example, you can use the room as both bedroom (when you lay out your futon) and dining and living room (when you fold up your futon and set out a table).

So if you have a small apartment without much space, if you have thin walls, or if you have no air conditioner, tatami may be the best choice for you. To get the full experience of living in a Japanese apartment, leave those wooden floors and carpets behind, and do as the Japanese do. Go tatami!

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