Living in Japan

Five Space Saving Ideas For Living in a Japanese Apartment

In the spirit of osouji (end-of-the-year cleaning and de-cluttering) we take a look at some ingenious products available in Japan designed to help cramped apartment dwellers use the space in their home as efficiently as possible.

10cm (4 inch) wide Sliding Kitchen Rack

Kitchens in Japan are usually very efficiently laid out. Very often in rental apartments, the kitchen will be long and narrow and will look something like the one below.

Typical kitchen in a rental apartment in Japan. Photo: Plusdiary.com

Typical kitchen in a rental apartment in Japan. Photo: Plusdiary.com

But why waste the valuable space in between the fridge and kitchen sink? After all, the space is wide enough to store a two-litter bottle of water and would otherwise just collect dust.

To maximize these valuable centimeters, storage gurus in Japan have designed a 10-cm (4 inch)-wide sliding rack on wheels that just fits in the space between the refrigerator and sink. The rack comes in various widths but we are quite taken with the 10-cm starter model. The one pictured below costs between 14,900yen and 23,900yen ($124 and $198).

10 cm (4 inch) wide kitchen shelf fits in the space between fridge and sink. Photo: asdf

Ten cm (4 inch) wide kitchen rack fits in the space between fridge and sink. Photo: Bellemaison.jp

Compact Toilet Storage

In many rental apartments in Japan, the toilet is separated from the room where the bathtub is located, and the “toilet room” itself is often quite narrow.

A typical "toilet room" in a rental apartment can be quite small. Photo: e-unit

A typical “toilet room” in a rental apartment can be quite small. The Japanese text reads: “It’s ok. (The toilet paper) is right here.” Photo: e-unit

There is often a small shelf above the toilet where you can store toilet paper and cleaning supplies.

Compact toilet paper storage. Photo: e-unit

Compact toilet paper storage. Photo: e-unit

Just in case your water closet does have convenient storage solutions, this company has designed a super compact (14-cm/5.5 inch) wide shelf designed to fit in the space between the toilet and wall. It is just wide enough to store toilet paper and cleaning supplies and provides a handy arm rest, from the looks of it. The unit pictured is priced at about 12,800 yen (about $106).

Wall-Hugging Suit Storage

Retailers cannot afford to waste space when displaying their products and neither should you as a busy salary man or woman! This compact, wall-hugging suit and shirt storage unit is designed for a minimal wardrobe. Easily find the shirt or tie you want in the morning because everything is on display. Just be sure to make regular visits to the dry cleaners (as there appears to be only enough room for six shirts or so). The unit displayed is available for 13,800yen ($115).

Compact suit storage. Photo:

Compact suit storage. Photo: kagu-11myroom

Double Up Your Shoes

In Japan you have to remove your shoes in the genkan (foyer) before entering a home.

So a genkan can get quite cluttered with footwear, especially if there are a lot of people in your family. It might end up looking like this:

Genkan (foyers) can become cluttered with shoes.

Genkan (foyers) can become cluttered with shoes.

This handy product allows you to stack your shoes and double your space.

Shoe stack lets you double your space and de-clutter your genkan (foyer). Photo: iemo.jp

Shoe stack lets you double your space and de-clutter your genkan (foyer). Photo: iemo.jp

Stairway Loft Bed

Loft beds of course are not unique to Japan, but we thought this one was well designed and just right for a typical 6-tatami mat room (about 9 square meters/97 square feet). Why not put your living room under your bed and climb upstairs to sleep?

Loft bed with stairs priced at 36,800yen ($305). Photo: eeena

Loft bed with stairs priced at 36,800yen ($305). Photo: eeena

You may also be interested in: 5 Space-Saving Ideas From Japan for a Small Home