Searching for Apartments: What Types of Apartment Can You Find in Japan?


The typical apartment or flat is on the smaller side, particularly in densely populated places like Tokyo. In terms of architectural style and the age of the structures, neighborhoods typically have a combination of newer and older homes.

The Different Types of Japanese Rental Complexes

There are three different types of apartments that can be found in Japan: apartments (apato), mansions, and kashiya.

A wooden or steel framework is typically used while constructing apartments (apato). They can reach heights of up to two floors.

The term “manshon” refers to pricier buildings that have at least three floors and are constructed with steel or concrete frames.

Kashiya. They are properties that are rented out or purchased with a mortgage.

What kind of apartment in Tokyo is going to best suit me?

wooden apartment

(アパート) Apartments Constructed Out Of Wooden Structures

The term “wooden structure apartments” refers to residential structures in Japan that are constructed entirely out of wood and are no more than three stories tall (the Japanese term for this type of building is “mokuzou”). There are certain buildings made of wooden construction that are taller than two storeys, but the key element is that these buildings are always low-rise and always made of wooden construction.

Advantages of wooden contructed rentals

Excellent Value (more space for the price)

Wooden apartment structures offer the best bang for the buck in the Tokyo real estate market. They can be built more quickly and for a lower overall cost than concrete construction, which enables them to be rented out at rent costs that are more reasonable. When erected, they require fewer resources to build than concrete construction does. They are typically more compact buildings that do not have elevators (walk-ups; although, there are some buildings made of wooden construction that do have elevators). In general, the management fee can also be lower because of the smaller size of the entire complex.

The fact that rentals in timber construction complexes are among the city’s most cost-effective options is a big advantage of these types of buildings.

Disadvantages of wooden contructed rentals

Little to no Insulation

The lack of insulation in many wooden apartments in Japan causes the summers to be extremely hot and the winters to be quite chilly. You can use space heaters or cooling units (or even new air conditioners that have both hot and cold options), but you should be prepared to use them frequently.

Poor Insulation, High Sound Levels (!! THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT POINT)

The majority of people who live in apartments made of wood are dissatisfied with the noise level. Because of its exceptional acoustic capabilities, wood is used in the construction of a significant number of concert halls as well as musical instruments. The acoustic transmitting and amplifying effects of densely packed apartment buildings that are stacked on top of each other with little to no insulation produce remarkably comparable outcomes.

You can probably hear whatever you can think of, whether it be the footfall of your neighbors, conversations they are having, the flushing of toilets, music, or movies. This can frequently result in either complaints being made against you or complaints being made by you (…reported to us, of course), and then we will need to resolve the matter in some kind of friendly manner! One of the things that we’ve had to do is write letters to our neighbors that say things like “Please don’t be noisy.”

concrete apartment

(マンション) Concrete Structure Apartments

“Mansions” is the direct Japanese transcription of the English word, however contrary to popular belief, one should not picture something like this when hearing the phrase “He lives in a Mansion!” The term “mansion” in Japanese refers to a certain type of building that is often constructed out of concrete and has three or more stories. Elevators and common areas (lobbies, mailrooms) are almost always present in these buildings. Some examples of building types that are constructed with concrete and steel materials include SRC, RC, ARC, and others.

The advantage of concrete contructed rentals


Concrete apartment buildings typically have a more contemporary appearance on the outside. Because there is more room to deal with, there are more possibilities available to them when it comes to the layout and design. There are some apartments that have a very high design and are created out of wood, but in the areas closest to downtown Tokyo, the flats that are going to have the best styling and design are going to be constructed out of concrete. Concrete is used in the construction of any opulent complex.

Absorbs Heat

Because it has a high thermal mass, concrete is able to take in heat and then gradually give it out again. Therefore, when it is really hot outside, the temperature has a more difficult time penetrating the walls, and when it is extremely cold outside, the opposite is true (concrete keeps your heat in). This might be a wonderful comfort factor in addition to helping you save money by reducing the amount you spend on heating and cooling your home.

Helps to Decrease the Sound Transmission

Rental properties that are constructed out of concrete are not completely soundproof, but they can get pretty darn close! The level of noise that can travel through walls made of concrete is in no way comparable to the level of noise that can travel through walls made of wood. Because of its density, concrete construction is fantastic for creating a comfortable living environment because it prevents a significant amount of sound from flowing from one dwelling to another when combined with insulation.

Concrete construced rentals and their disavantages

Greater expense

Since constructing with concrete requires a greater initial investment than building with wood does, the additional cost of construction is passed on to tenants in the form of higher monthly payments. In addition, the management costs will most certainly be greater than those for a rental in a timber construction because of the expenses associated with running all of the shared spaces.

When picking a place to call home, it’s important to remember that money isn’t the only factor to take into account; tranquility and overall quality of life are also important factors.

Think about renting a place that was built out of concrete if you don’t want to have to worry about breaking something every time you go home.

The Different classifications of Apartments

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In Japan’s apartment complexes, the many types of floor plans are frequently denoted by abbreviations. “D” represents for dining room, “K” stands for kitchen, “L” stands for living room, and “S” means for storage. When referring to the number of bedrooms, the numbers that come before the letter abbreviations are what are utilized.

Apartment Type


1R Apartments are similar to studio apartments in that they only have one room, and there is no wall dividing the kitchen from the living area.

1k Apartments that share a living space that includes a kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom or a toilet and a bathtub.

1DK apartments have a bedroom and kitchen that are separated from one another and share a bathroom and a toilet room.

1LDK Spacious apartments that each have a bedroom, living room, dining room, and kitchen that are all located in their own separate areas.

1SLDK Apartments are quite similar to 1LDK apartments, however each unit also has a personal walk-in closet for increased storage space.

Types of Floor Covering

There are three primary categories of flooring that can be found in Japan. Carpet, tatami, and hardwood flooring are the three options that are available to homeowners.

The traditional Japanese floor covering known as tatami is made from rice straw and is intricately woven together. They offer a comfortable cushion that does not get hot in the summer and does not get cold in the winter.

Hardwood floors, despite their slightly higher cost, provide a home an appearance that is both contemporary and classic. This kind of flooring is not as forgiving as others when it comes to dents and scratches.

Due to the humid climate in Japan, it is more difficult to find houses that are completely carpeted. This is because carpeting can have various issues when exposed to high levels of moisture. The high humidity makes it possible for ticks and other insects to breed in the carpets, which makes carpet cleaning the most difficult of all the flooring options.

Room Measurement

The area covered by one tatami mat, or jo, is equal to 1.62 square meters in most cases. In Japan, the measurement of a room’s size is referred to as a jo, which can be shortened to just “J.”

Why it is more difficult for foreigners to rent an apartment in Japan?

Rent in Tokyo

If you are not a native Japanese speaker, you will have a more difficult time finding and renting a long-term residence in Japan, regardless of whether or not this is on purpose.
The following are some of the issues:

Discrimination and prejudice

When it comes to letting people from other countries rent rooms in their properties, many landlords and rental companies have had negative experiences in the past. It’s possible that they suddenly left the nation without giving any notice, but it’s also possible that they received a number of complaints from the other renters. If you paint all gaijin with the same brush, you shouldn’t be surprised if housing agents refuse to assist you in finding a place to live.

Few choices available


You will have fewer options to choose from as a result of the widespread practice among property owners and businesses of refusing entry to non-citizens. In point of fact, some rental agencies will only show you a selection of the flats that they have available. It is also not unheard of for the rent price to be increased gradually over time.

Communication barriers

If you go from one agency to another, you could discover that some of them are “testing” your Japanese proficiency. This is due to the fact that proficiency in Japanese could be a deciding factor. If they discovered that you did not have the necessary level of fluency, they may be more reluctant to show you their available flats because the process of securing an apartment is lengthy and complicated (including the signing of a contract).

Exhausting screening and evaluation procedures

The signing of a contract can take anywhere from one to two weeks. It is not an easy task to communicate back and forth with your agent, prepare the necessary paperwork, and find someone to act as a guarantor.

You can get in touch with us if you are looking for an apartment in Japan and want to steer clear of all the traps that are associated with the process.

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