Archive for September 5, 2008

Small Japanese Rooms

Whenever I tell Japanese people I share an apartment in Los Angeles with three others, their eyes widen in excitement because they assume roommates always spend time together, laughing and talking into the wee hours of the morning. “Do they cook for you?” they ask. Hahah, no. In fact, I’m just happy when my roommates wash their dishes.

For better or for worse, most single people live alone in Japan. My theory is that they can’t be bothered conforming to others since they do so much of that already. So while Americans trade off trash duty, Japanese people bask happily (naked) in their quaint studio apartment, cooking (naked), eating (naked), and washing dishes (in the buff) for one. (j/k)

Don’t get me wrong. Living in a Japanese apartment isn’t exactly heaven, either. My Tokyo living quarters consisted of eight tatami mats, each measuring 3×6 feet. And in that one room, I slept, dined, watched TV and occasionally practiced jumping jacks to keep warm. At times I felt like a prisoner in my own castle. And unless you can afford a maid, keeping your apartment in working order can be a challenge. That’s why there’s an abundance of inventive furniture in Japan: My bed conveniently folded into a love seat for guests; the TV stand held clothes; and my kotatsu table served not only as a place to eat but as a toasty foot-heater.

Magazines offer ideas for how to arrange furniture in small places. They’re loaded with photos of cool rooms in varying themes, from princess pink to eco-friendly green. I’d get so hyped about interior decorating that I’d blow my paycheck at MUJI every month, changing out my couch or getting new closet organizers.

Looking back, I really miss having a disposable income. Having a small room forced me to use my creative juices to carve out a personal living space. In LA, it almost makes to laugh to see people complaining about their cramped two-bedroom apartment. They should try on a Japanese room for size.


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September 5, 2008 at 10:01 am 2 comments

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September 2008


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