We are settling in to our tiny apartment in Shibaura, Tokyo. The apartment we chose is on the 30th floor of a high-rise building near to where my husband is working. The whole apartment is about 550 square feet — including the LDK (living-dining-kitchen) room, two bedrooms and a bath/WC and an entryway called a genkan. Above is the main living space with the sofa, a table and the TV and TV table. The two person dining table is at the edge of the photo to the right.
Along one wall is an efficiency kitchen, with a three burner stove and fish grill (please note… NO oven), sink, cabinets, small refrigerator/freezer and a small microwave oven. The furnishings package from the rental company included basic dishware/cookware, a rice cooker, coffee pot, and electric teapot.
An interesting thing about the microwave is that it also has a grill/toast function, as well as the usual microwave function. We have only used it for toasting bread, and probably won’t use the grill function at all since we have a fish grill with the stovetop. To use the toast function, you have to remove the ceramic cookplate from the turntable and lay the bread on the grilltop. It takes a bit longer than a conventional toaster would, but serves the purpose quite well.
This is the fish grill… It just pulls out from the front of the stove, and has a removable grill and drip tray. I used it for the very first time last night to cook dinner. I think it would work fine for grilling other meats as well. The whole unit is gas which is controlled by the buttons on the front and has a battery-powered striker. Apparently, baking in a oven is not a common way to cook in Japan. None of the apartments we looked at had ovens… all had units similar to this one.
Japanese apartments are very small… but, very efficiently equipped. This room is tiny compared to the kitchen/dining/family room of our home back in the States. In fact, I think this whole apartment would fit inside that room back home. It is a very comfortable room, however, and has everything we really need. I have plenty of storage space for the few dishes that we have — I do plan to buy a few more things to add to the dishes they provided, but not many things. There is no dishwasher, so all the dishes get washed and returned to the cabinets after every meal… so we don’t need a lot of extras.
Food storage is tight — especially in the refrigerator — so I will have to shop more often, which I would have to do anyway, since I can only buy as much as my two hands can carry from the supermarket. It gets to be a long walk with overloaded grocery bags. Food packages at the supermarket are all pretty small… no super economy sizes sold here! Most everyone shops daily or every other day. There is no parking lot at the supermarket I shop. Everyone walks or rides a bike… or pushes a stroller.
I think we are going to enjoy this tiny living experience here in Japan. It is sort of like the “tiny house” trend back in the States… something that has intrigued my husband and me for a while. This is a chance to downsize from all the “stuff” we have accumulated in our lives… to get down to the essentials of life. I think in the United States, we take space for granted. In many places in the world they don’t have that luxury. Or, maybe, they just don’t see the point of wasting space and resources. Whatever the reason, it will be interesting to see how we feel about it after two years here.