Home News A 95-Square-Foot Tokyo Apartment: ‘I Wouldn’t Live Anywhere Else’

A 95-Square-Foot Tokyo Apartment: ‘I Wouldn’t Live Anywhere Else’

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TOKYO—At the end of a long day at the office of a Japanese professional baseball league, Asumi Fujiwara returned to her apartment and changed into her pajamas. I put a vinyl yoga mat on the floor and rolled it past the single kitchen burner and one-slot toaster toward the foot of my desk.

After a short stretch, she stood up and assumed a warrior position. “If she doesn’t change her pose, she’ll run into something,” said Fujiwara, 29.

This is life in a 95 square foot Tokyo apartment.

With high real estate prices and the world’s most populous metropolitan area, Tokyo has long been known for its small accommodations. But these new apartments, known as 3 tatami rooms based on how much standard Japanese floor mats cover the living space, push the boundaries of normal living.

Real estate developer Spilytus has led the way in smaller spaces than ever before. Since 2015, we have been operating these shoebox-type condominiums. Currently, more than 1,500 people live in 100 buildings, and demand is still strong.

The unit is half the size of your average Tokyo studio apartment, but with 12-foot ceilings and an attic-like loft. It’s a stylish space with pure white floors and walls, and if you arrange it efficiently, you can pack a washing machine, refrigerator, sofa and desk tightly.

The apartment is really tight budgetYou can find cheaper apartments, although they are usually decades old. But renting for $340 to $630 a month, micro-apartments are hundreds of dollars cheaper than other studio apartments in similar areas. There are, and these are generally very expensive, with upscale boutiques, cafes and restaurants.

More than two-thirds of the building’s residents are in their twenties, earning an average of about $17,000 to $20,000 a year in Japan. government data(Wages in Tokyo are among the highest.) Attracted by minimal upfront costs and lack of a security deposit or “gift” (a non-refundable payment to the landlord, sometimes equivalent to three months’ rent). Some people are. rental.

The small space accommodates the lifestyles of many Japanese youth. In Japan, there is no custom of hosting guests at home, and nearly one-third of Japanese girlfriends say they have never invited a friend to their home. Investigation By Growth From Knowledge, a data provider in the consumer goods industry.

Mr. Fujiwara has been living in the apartment for nearly two years, and even his partner has not come to his house. “This space is for me,” she said.

There are many Japanese men and women of all ages long working hours, spending very little time at home. Also, the proportion of people living alone in Tokyo is increasing, making smaller spaces more desirable. Such people are more likely to eat out or get him one of the many ready-made meal options from convenience stores and grocery stores, thus reducing the need for a full his kitchen.

Yugo Kinoshita, a 19-year-old university student who works part-time as a gyudon maker at a chain restaurant, is one of those people whose apartment is just a place to sleep.

By the time his shift ends, it’s an hour to midnight and he’s exhausted. He eats a free staff meal, goes to the “sento” public bath, and the moment he returns to the Spilytus unit he passes out. The rest of his days are filled with studying for his nutrition degree and seeing his friends.

When he’s awake at home, the box that acts as a TV stand transforms into a study desk and kitchen counter. A lint roller is all you need to clean your floors.

“I’m not going to live anywhere,” Kinoshita said at this point in his life, even after he had to tearfully say goodbye to his Nike Dunk collection for nowhere to put it.

For some residents, this tiny apartment provides a gateway to long-overdue independence.

Two years ago, Kana Komatsubara (26) began looking for an apartment in order to move out of her parents’ home in the suburbs of Tokyo.

She wanted a recently built space, easy access to work, and a separate room for the toilet and shower (a common request in Japan). She wasn’t necessarily looking for a micro-unit, but her search led her to Spilytus’ apartment.

“Of course, the bigger the better. Having more space is never a bad thing,” she said. “For me at the time, it was simply the best option.”

One afternoon, nail stylist Ms. Komatsubara unlocked the front door of her apartment through narrow alleys lined with dilapidated houses, about a minute from the nearest subway station in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward.

She climbed three narrow flights of stairs—the building had no elevator—her room was behind one of the same burgundy doors that lined the common corridor.

Once inside, there was a small “entrance” just big enough for three pairs of shoes. A twenty-inch wide hallway led to the main room and past the kitchen sink. Mr. Komatsubara left a tube of toothpaste and a bottle of mouthwash.

She keeps work tools like a blue light machine for her gel nails and a mannequin hand for practice where she plans to put her washing machine. The plastic trash bag hanging on her doorknob has to be taken out almost every day.

One of the benefits of living small, she said, is less ice cream. Her mini-fridge doesn’t have a freezer, so she eats less. That, along with her daily boxing routine, means she’s in better shape.

Fujiwara, a baseball league employee, was drawn to her micro-apartments after the pandemic began. She lived in a shared house, but with her telecommuting, she felt stressed and anxious because she didn’t have a place to belong.

Her smaller space has encouraged her to live more sustainably, she said. ‘ she added.

But next to her sink is a pile of about 40 brown paper cups. “I don’t have space to dry the dishes,” she said.

Both she and Komatsubara wish there was more space in the loft for clothes that hang neatly. Komatsubara visits her parents’ house at the beginning of each season, and most recently swapped out her cropped top for a sweater.

Both women give up the washing machines expected in most Japanese apartments in order to use the space more efficiently, and instead go to the laundromat once or twice a week.

Mr. Kinoshita has a washing machine, but no dryer, so he hangs his wet clothes on the railing where there should be a curtain. He is also unable to do some of his homework for his nutrition degree at home because the kitchen is too small.

Mr. Komatsubara decided to move out of his apartment. Because I want a cheaper room.

“As I’ve gotten older, my requirements—what I’m looking for in an apartment—have changed,” she said.

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