The Tokyo Flat

One of the things I typically do when I arrive somewhere I will be staying at for a while is to take a bunch of pictures of the house / apartment / hotel room. While it does serve a documentary function, it also provides a source of design ideas when I am trying to do something somewhere else. Small hotel bathrooms, for example, can be a great source of ideas for how to maximise space when it comes time to update your own bathrooms.. or, if poorly designed, can be a good place to look for how not to do it.

In any case, when I arrived here I was too jet-lagged to think about getting a set of pictures before I unpacked. This morning I thought about it again. Since I am only here a (relatively) short time it was more effective to get a furnished apartment instead of going the normal unfurnished route.

Although at 43 square meters this is a relatively small 1 bedroom flat from an American perspective, it is quite large for Japanese standards.  So far there are 3 main issues with it from my perspective:

1) It was advertised as a 1 bedroom but is in fact a studio.  It turns out that in most of the other units in the building of this design there is a movable curtain divider between the living and bedroom space, but in others (like mine) they opted not to install them to make the space feel larger.  Call me picky, but I prefer not to sleep in my dining room.

2) The kitchen is challenging.  I have a small two burner range and a microwave; no regular oven.  While there is an electric water kettle and a rice cooker, there are no plugs in the kitchen and their cords are not long enough to sit on a table, so they get used on the living room floor.  The work space is also very limited.  All in all I think this kitchen was designed for heating up takeout meals and not doing much in the way of actual cooking.

3) The pretend balcony.  From the outside it looks like the building has balconies. From the inside, however, the “balcony” level is about 16 inches below the apartment floor and the sliding window does not open far enough to get out on it anyway.  It’s a very odd design, and one that confuses me every time I open the curtains. 

All in all, though, it’s fine as a place to come home from the office to – and it has a bathtub large enough to swim laps in!

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