The happy homemaking has begun! We’ve been spending quite a bit of time during the last week window shopping, comparison shopping, and purchasing things for our new apartment. The size of our apartment is 36 square meters (quite small by Western standards) and has two main rooms in addition to a shower/ ofuro room, toilet room, and kitchen area. I honestly don’t mind living in a small place. I find it rather cozy and I look forward to seeing how we can decorate it creatively. We’ve bought almost all of the big things (fridge, bookshelves, kitchen table, stove, etc.) at used-goods stores called “recycle shops” and have been pleased with the low prices.

In no particular order, here are a few random things about life in a Japanese house/ apartment:
This is exactly what our stove looks like – it even has a little pull-out shelf for broiling fish. That’s my favorite part since I love broiled fish, especially salmon and tuna.

The Japanese futon system is…interesting. I don’t particularly like sleeping on one (not great for my back) but the alternative, buying a bed, is not possible in an apartment of this small size. They look like this (photo from the internet):

One is supposed to fold them up each night and store them in the closet but we usually only fold them without putting them away in the closet.

The main rooms have tatami mats (made from rice straw) which has an interesting scent.

This is basically what our main rooms look like without furniture

One negative thing: our neighbors have cockroaches and we’ve seen two so far which forced us to set out some traps. I thought these traps were some of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while. Sometimes Japan can be so goofy when it comes to things like this. It looks like the happy cockroach is inviting his buddies to their death.

When you enter a house or apartment you must remove your shoes and leaves them in the entrance, called the “genkan.” In theory the shoes ought to be neatly lined up but in reality this is what I often see:

It’s a bit awkward in our apartment that as soon as you step into the genkan, the door to the shower room is immediately to the right. I often panic that the doorbell will ring just as I am about to exit the shower!

In case you didn’t know, Japanese houses always have the bathing room separate from the toilet room. This is not an actual photo of our shower/ ofuro (bathtub) room but ours looks pretty much the same, just not as new.

Ever seen this in the U.S? Indeed, Japan has very fancy toilets that even have heated seats (quite nice in the winter). You can even get a little shower for your behind – this was highly amusing to my friends who have visited from the U.S.! One can even go as far as adjust the water pressure strength and temperature for the “shower.” We do not have one of these fancy toilets but they are in many shops and department stores.

Yes, it is very good to be back in Japan even though it’s cramped and very semai (narrow). The streets can be unbelievably narrow, parking lots tend to be extremely cramped, backyards are practically non-existent, and apartments are teeny tiny. Thankfully, we’re used to it but I have my moments when I long for a nice, green backyard and giant American or German-sized kitchen!