Wanderlust Japan > Culture > Living the 1K Dream

Living the 1K Dream

If you have ever visited someone in Japan,  you probably noticed that their dwelling is TINY (exceptions: they were rich or lived in the countryside). You may wonder how everyone can live in such small spaces.

Let me tell you from experience that:

1. Everything has a place and there is a place for (nearly) everything.

2. You get used to it pretty quickly.

The number of Japanese people living alone has increased in recent years. According to the national census bureau’s 2010 report, one-person households make up 31.2% of all Japanese households (the article is from 2011, it may have risen since then). Because of this, many apartments that you can rent are geared toward the single person lifestyle. They give you literally just enough room to live in.

A popular layout for affordable apartments is the “1K” (one room plus kitchen area). I took the liberty of making a mock-up for you. I currently live in a 1K, and it is roughly like this.



*Not sure how familiar you guys are with Japan, but the “genkan” is the little area where you can take off your shoes. Japanese people do not wear their outdoor shoes inside their house. There is usually a small cupboard for shoes near the genkan.

*A “unit bath” is a little plastic room with a toilet, sink, and shower/bath. What makes it unique is that everything shares the same drain and you can only use either the sink or shower at any given time. To give you a visual, it looks like this:



Japanese kitchens are a tragedy. In a country with so much good food, you’d think that the inhabitants are all at home, cooking up a storm…but you would be very very wrong:


If you are looking at this kitchen and thinking, “I could totally cook there,” then I really wish you could come over to my house and cook for me. I cannot, for the life of me, find a good way to cook in this amount of space without extreme anger getting unleashed at one point or another. My anger usually comes when I have the cutting board precariously perched above the sink until unknown forces (guessing it is “gravity”) cause my board to tip over and spill all of my veggies into either the sink or onto the floor.


If you are wondering about my luxury lifestyle and whether you too could live in an exclusive 1K in the heart of Tokyo, I will tell you ballpark prices. Cheaper neighborhoods in the 23 districts of Tokyo might have 1Ks for about 38,000-50,000 yen a month (least expensive have tatami instead of wood flooring). More expensive areas, or places that have been renovated recently could be up to 100,000 yen or more. 


If you are actually looking to rent an apartment, I would suggest reading this. This guy talks in detail about renting. I will not because I think it is boring and painful to talk about. This site also has a good general explanation of different fees you might pay in the beginning.

Living in Japan isn’t all just about apartments though.! Even the houses need to get creative with space:

Have any thoughts/stories about space in Japan?


January 31  Category:Culture Tag:, ,

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