In this article, we explain the main differences between the two types of gas systems (city gas and LP gas) mainly used for cooking and heating homes in Japan. This article is part of the series on “living in a Japanese apartment“.
The Two Types of Gas Used in Homes in Japan
Unless you live in a newer apartment or house that was built to run entirely on electricity, your home in Japan will either use city (or toshi, 都市) gas or LP (liquid petroleum) gas.
What is “city” gas?
City gas is methane gas. It is usually called “natural gas” in English, but in Japanese it is is referred to as toshi gas because usually only major cities have the infrastructure required to pipe this type of gas into homes. City gas is supplied to your home through underground pipes.
What is LP gas?
LP gas is “liquid petroleum” or propane gas.
You cannot choose which type of gas will be piped into your home, unless you make it a criteria when you are apartment (or house) hunting. LP gas is supplied to residences via several tanks, usually secured to an external wall. If your home uses LP gas, your gas company will regularly check on them and replace the tanks when they’re empty.
These are the main differences between using city and LP gas:
- City gas is less expensive to use than LP gas (please see below).
- LP gas has higher heat value (more specifically, about 24,000-kcal per one cubic meter versus about half that for city gas). Basically, LP gas releases twice as much heat when it burns.
- In case of a natural disaster, residences using city gas will tend to experience longer recovery times to restore gas usage.
- Accidental combustion is less likely with LP gas.
If your apartment does not come equipped with a cooking unit (as is the case with budget rentals), you will have to buy a stove and hook it up to the gas line. Learn about this here: Hidden costs of living in a Japanese apartment.
When you are shopping, make sure that the appliances you buy are compatible with the type of gas your apartment uses.
都市ガス用 (Toshi gasu yoo): For use with city gas
プロパン用 (Puropan yoo) or LPガス (LP gasu yoo): For use with propane/LP gas
City gas tends to be more expensive than LP gas, in general, because labor costs are higher for supplying LP gas. The cost comparison below is based on a usage for monthly usage of 20-cubic meters of gas in Tokyo.
The difference is about 4,400 yen a month, which adds up to 52,800 yen a year. This is a not a small difference, so when you are apartment hunting, this is something to watch out for.
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