Living in a Japanese house   日本の家で暮らす

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La Kayaki house in Tokyo, one of our rental houses with a traditional tatami room


The genkan, the entryway for a Japanese house.

A Japanese bath

A Japanese bathroom

A bowl of Japanese rice

A bowl of Japanese rice

tatami floor room

A tatami floored room

Honganji house in Kyoto

Honganji house in Kyoto, one of our rental houses

The futons of the Japanese bedroom (Honganji house, Kyoto)

Futons in a Japanese bedroom (Honganji house, Kyoto)

The inner garden of a Japanese house (Miyagawacho house, Kyoto)

The inner garden of a Japanese house (Miyagawacho house, Kyoto)

 The living room of a Japanese house (Miyagawacho house, Kyoto)

The living room of a Japanese house (Miyagawacho house, Kyoto)

The uses and customs

Have you ever rented a house in Japan? Don't arrive without knowing the various different uses and customs! Here's a short guide to living in a Japanese house - the right way.

The Japanese house: a mixture of comfort and Japanese traditions, synonymous with rules to respect. Here are the main ones:

Shoes forbidden!

It is unthinkable for a Japanese person to enter a house with shoes on. This is the golden rule: they are removed in the space called the genkan (entryway). In a country where people live a lot on the ground (especially on tatami mats that can't be cleaned like tiles or floorboards), this practice is understandable for hygiene reasons.

A sacred interior

But it's not the only reason. The Japanese are also very sensitive to the idea of in/out: this is the concept of uchi and soto in Japanese. Removing your shoes when going inside is a matter of respect. Note that you will also be asked to remove your shoes in many temples. It's also the case in schools, where students switch to indoor shoes when they arrive. So think about bringing your most beautiful socks!

The bathroom

Japanese houses have amenities that are sure to surprise overseas visitors. The main surprise is the bathroom: there will be a bath, but don't wash in it! The whole bathroom is often a wet room, with a shower in the space at the foot of the bathtub. Clean yourself with the shower, and only enter the bath to relax, once you're clean.

See: Ofuro, the Japanese bath

The toilet

Another central location of the house: the toilet. Traditionally, you must change your slippers when you enter the toilet using the ones that are placed there. Many foreigners make the mistake of coming out with the toilet slippers still on! In addition to the often high-tech toilet (complete with bidet function and heated seat), you'll find an ingenious idea: a mini sink above the toilet to wash your hands with the water that will flush the toilet.

See: Japanese toilets

The kitchen

You won't find an oven, but a stove and often a grill, for fish or toast. Japanese cuisine has a lot of typical Japanese utensils used to make all kinds of dishes. Almost all of these dishes are eaten with chopsticks, which naturally come with their own rules to respect.

See: Table manners


Japan attaches great importance to waste sorting. These are separated into fuel and non-combustible items. Cans, glass bottles, and plastic bottles are also sorted for recycling. If renting a house with us, depending on the city, please check with your Travel Angel for more instructions about this. This will prevent you from getting into trouble with your neighbors!

The noise

Most Japanese houses have poor insulation. So be sure to limit the noise and keep an appropriate sound level during your stay, day and night.

Look out!

The stairways of Japanese houses are often steep and narrow. Some would not meet other countries standards, for example. Take care when you go down. Another peculiarity related to the architecture of the houses: the ceilings are often low. Enough for the tallest of you to bump your head. Be careful!

The bedroom

Traditionally, Japanese sleep on futons on the floor. If you want to try this style of sleeping, don't forget to fold and store your futon every morning. This Japanese habit is synonymous with space saving, understandable when we see the small size of some Japanese houses.

Some other peculiarities of the Japanese house: the washing machines use only cold water. And the clothes are dried on a long lines, hung on hooks on the terrace.

Related phrases

Finally, if you want to live completely like a local, have fun using some phrases related to daily life. In a Japanese home, the person returning home will announce, often from the entryway: tadaima, meaning "I'm back home!", often even if the house is empty. On the other hand, if other members of the family are present, they will reply okaeri (nasai), which means "welcome home!".

When invited to someone's house, you will have to say ojama shimasu ("I'm disturbing you") when you pass the door. Do not forget to apologize again for the inconvenience when leaving the house: ojama shimashita (the past form).

Ready to give it a try? Go to our page to rent an authentic Japanese house in Kyoto, Tokyo, Kanazawa, Takayama, Fukuoka and Hiroshima.

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