Living in Japan

9 Easy and Inexpensive Ways to Organize Your Apartment in Japan

Do not despair if your apartment in Japan does not have as much space or storage as you might like. Below are nine simple and inexpensive ways to organize a Japanese studio apartment, using mostly items available at 100 Yen shops.

 1. DIY Some Bathroom Storage

In most studio (1K and 1R) apartments in Japan square footage is sparse. You barely have enough room to stand in a unit bath, much less storage space. A typical pre-fabricated bathroom looks like this:

This is an example of a unit bath where the bathtub/shower, sink, and toilet are all in one room. Not a lot of room here to store your things.

However, with a little ingenuity and a few products from your local Daiso or Can Do (100 Yen) shops, you can transform your ordinary unit bath into the Martha Stewart of bathrooms, shelf-wise anyway.

This organizational ninja used a high-tension pole, wire wracks, baskets and a few S-hooks to rig up a storage unit above the toilet in this unit bath. Bravo! Photo:, User na-chan

If your toilet is in a separate room from your bathroom, you can set up a rack above the toilet using a pre-made wooden or plastic rack, also available at many 100 Yen shops. A スノコ (sunoko) is a wooden slat frame. Sunoko are often used for drainage in bathrooms. Some beds also have sunoko frames. For DIY ninjas in Japan, sunoko are must have. For example, the toilet rack below was made using a 100 yen shop sunoko.

Create a simple shelf above a toilet using a pre-made sunoko frame, available at many 100 Yen shops. Photo: User ohshita

2. Go vertical in your laundry area

Another way to maximize space is to create usable vertical space in your laundry nook. In the DIY arsenal, the high-tension pole (tsuppari pōru, つっぱりポール) is another essential item. The person below organized their laundry area by lifting it above the washing machine with a pole and a few plastic baskets from Daiso.

Put your laundry baskets above your washing machine to save space. Image: User acchu

You can also build a more elaborate rack using large wire racks and a few high-tension poles like this:

A more elaborate overhead laundry rack. Photo: User 8

3. Make the most of your doors

Doors, what are they good for? Not just for opening and closing, friends. You can buy all kinds of ingenious products from home goods and DIY stores in Japan to make your doors multifunctional (for example, hooks and storage cubbies that attach to the top of a door) . The person below created their own door laundry rack using a couple of Daiso door laundry hooks and a high-tension pole.

DIY door laundry rack made from 100 yen shop items. Photo: User per

4. Maximize the space in your kitchen

The kitchen in most Japanese studio apartments is barebones. A typical one looks like this:

Example of a kitchen in a Japanese studio apartment. You won’t get much storage or counter space.

Please see this article for in-depth tips on how to organize a Japanese kitchen.

Here are the essentials:

Maximize the space under your sink

A few plastic storage containers and hooks can transform that small square under your sink into a veritable mini-chef’s kitchen. If you are in doubt, see how well this person organized their under-sink storage.

Quite possibly the most organized under-sink area ever? Only using items from a 100 Yen shop. Photo User 64

Make your own racks

Using the same ideas for organizing the bathroom and laundry area, it’s easy to make your own racks using DIY racks available at the 100 yen shop.

These space-efficient racks were made from a DIY kit available at 100 Yen shops like Daiso and Can Do.

5. Declutter your genkan (foyer)

For in-depth tips on organizing your entryway (genkan), please see this article: How to organize the genkan entryway in a Japanese apartment.

A bright and clean genkan is a good thing to come home to. Photo: User kediooi

The easiest way to de-clutter your entryway is to limit the number of shoes you keep there! The second would be to get a few metallic hooks from the 100 Yen shop and hang whatever you can from the door, especially all those vinyl umbrellas!

6. Organize your wires

A tangle of wires and extension cords can be an eyesore. Here are a few ideas for sorting them out.

Two good ideas here for organizing your wires.The product in the upper right photo is a cord tube, which you can use to bundle wires together. Second, get a plastic container with small handle openings at opposite ends and run your wires through the holes. Pop a lid on top to hide away the wires. All available at Daiso. Photo: User ai

7. DIY storage table

Use every nook and cranny to organize your things. The person below had a great idea for turning a broken table into a table with storage space. The table legs gave way, so they bought two wooden slat frames (sunoko), sawed one in half and fashioned a new table with storage underneath. The top was “re-finished” with self-adhesive sheets from a 100 Yen shop and glue-on faux bricks.

DIY table with storage space underneath. Photo: Mame560

8. Clean up your balcony

If your apartment comes with a balcony, you will want to keep it neat and tidy. Your balcony will likely have a fire escape hatch that goes through to your neighbor’s balcony below, so you will definitely want to keep this area clear for safety reasons. Many people also dry laundry on their balcony, so it’s a good idea to maximize your available drying space.

Here is a hyper-organized balcony laundry corner. Photo: User i.mxxi

9. Extra Credit: Create your own balcony oasis

Now that you’ve done a great job of organizing your apartment, it’s time to take a break…on your private wood deck! Even if you have a small balcony, you can use some of the ideas below to make a small outdoor space.

Lay down wooden planks (available from home goods stores) to make a deck on your balcony. For privacy, weave bamboo shades (available at 100 Yen shops) into the balcony bars. Add a few plants to finish your outdoor space! Photo: User Lisa

You may also be interested in: 1R, 1K, 1DK, 1LDK Apartment: What’s the difference and which should I rent?