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Japan and small living spaces

Habaek

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last year my parents and I went to Tokyo for a vacation, we even went to the famous Nikko I think it's a few hours drive north of Tokyo. Anyway we stayed in a three beds suite at a 3 stars hotel. One of the thing that had me thinking about is how tiny our suite was. The question I wanted to ask the entire time how do Japanese people live in such a clustered space. It gave me nuisance, but don't get the wrong idea is not that I don't like Japan but I sincerely believe that such small living spaces is not healthy for anyone's physical and mental health.


We're going back to Japan this year this time to Osaka to learn more about the culture.
 

Mike Cash

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You were in a hotel. Do you think that is representative of how everybody lives here?

You can pay more money if you want a more spacious hotel suite.
 

Habaek

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You were in a hotel. Do you think that is representative of how everybody lives here?

You can pay more money if you want a more spacious hotel suite.

I don't think Japanese houses are very spacious Housing in Japan - Wikipedia
it's not like I think the small space and their architecture is absolutely disgusting.
no offense, I just had a very hard time eating my ramen and trying to move at the same time at that ichiran place.

and I just want to further say that "No one should live like that", no one should live in such a small environment not even pets should live in an environment like that.
 
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Mike Cash

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and I just want to further say that "No one should live like that", no one should live in such a small environment not even pets should live in an environment like that.

大きなお世話
 

jt9258

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no one should live in such a small environment not even pets should live in an environment like that.

Do you not think that making such judgements on how others live is also wrong?

You are not going to learn much about the culture in a few trips.
 

Toritoribe

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起きて半畳寝て一畳
Waking, half a tatami mat; Sleeping, a single tatami mat
(One should be satisfied without desiring more wealth and rank than necessary.)

Japanese proverb

足るを知る
One who knows enough is enough.
Zen proverb

ほど狭しといへども、夜臥す床あり、昼居る座あり。一身を宿すに、不足なし。寄居は小さき貝を好む。これ、こと知れるによりてなり。ミサゴは荒磯に居る。すなはち、人を恐るるが故なり。我また、かくのごとし。
'T is cramped, indeed, but it has a bed for me to sleep on at night, and a mat to sit on during the day, so I have no reason to be discontented. The hermit-crab is satisfied with a narrow shell for its home, which shows that it knows its own nature; the osprey dwells on high crags because it fears man. So is it with me.
方丈記 Hōjōki written by 鴨長明 Kamo no Chōmei, translated by 南方熊楠 Minakata Kumagusu and Frederick Victor Dickins
 

Lothor

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Habaek - There is space in Japan and even the cities provided you don't mind making some trade-offs. We bought a largish (over 100m2) home in Tokyo that was cheaper than buying a small brand new house (80m2) simply because it was relatively old (25 years) and the previous owner had made a mess of the inside so nobody wanted to buy it despite it being a well-constructed house (apart from the complete lack of insulation). There were also much larger and older properties not that far from us but we couldn't stomach the idea of a longish bus ride to the nearest train station twice a day as part of our commute. Japanese people generally like convenience and newness (with some justification considering how badly built many properties are) and most are content to have them at the cost of not much space.

I share your feelings about space and had a rough time until recently with four of us living in a 60m2 apartment but most Japanese people do not see it this way.
 

OoTmaster

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I stayed with a friend near Tokyo for a few days when I went to Japan. Their living space was pretty large. For a family of 3 or 4 it would be considered "small" by American standards. But by all means comfortable. Not all Japanese people/famlies live in very confined spaces. Some do but the same could be said about any country. There are studio apartments I know about here that are about 375 square feet and I'm not even in a space confined city.
 

Habaek

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The point I'm trying to make is more related to basic human needs than philosophical.
A person's well being is strongly affected by their environment. I know I'm bias since the living standard here in Vancouver is quite high Vancouver rated top North American city for quality of life and infrastructure | Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly

Anyway comparing houses in suburb of Tokyo, and say suburb of Vancouver(Abbotsford is about 40 minutes drive to Vancouver)


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We're people, people live there ^
 
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Habaek

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A person simply cannot be themselves, if they are forced into such a clustered environment without any privacy and room to breathe. To be philosophical about it is like seeing a school of fish trapped in a net.
 

OoTmaster

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Space is at a premium in Japan for obvious reasons comparing to Canada. Japan, Population: 126,672,000; Area: 377,972 km2. Canada, Population: 35,151,728; Area: 9,984,670 km2. You're quite literally comparing apples to oranges.
 

Habaek

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Space is at a premium in Japan for obvious reasons comparing to Canada. Japan, Population: 126,672,000; Area: 377,972 km2. Canada, Population: 35,151,728; Area: 9,984,670 km2. You're quite literally comparing apples to oranges.

That might be so but I think it is inhumane

These are some of the most extreme examples but frankly I feel such a thing shouldn't exist at all.

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Glenski

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People learn to live where they do. How do you and others from the Vancouver area survive in a place where winter is so cloudy, cold, rainy, and miserable virtually every day? People shouldn't live in such conditions. Seattle, too.

How can people in America live in such large homes with such big cars? That's too much space for them. It doesn't afford them the chance to get to know each other. And few to no trains!

How do people live in Los Angeles with such high pollution?

How can people in African villages live in huts....?

See? It goes both ways. Japan is 75% mountains, so people learn to make do.
 

Habaek

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People learn to live where they do. How do you and others from the Vancouver area survive in a place where winter is so cloudy, cold, rainy, and miserable virtually every day? People shouldn't live in such conditions. Seattle, too.

How can people in America live in such large homes with such big cars? That's too much space for them. It doesn't afford them the chance to get to know each other. And few to no trains!

How do people live in Los Angeles with such high pollution?

How can people in African villages live in huts....?

See? It goes both ways. Japan is 75% mountains, so people learn to make do.


It actually scares me if doesn't rain for too long, you can't hate having fresh water coming from the sky and creating one of the world's most beautiful natural environment to live in. Also you have to have a clear understanding you can't justify having no private space, or no space at all and being clustered with others as "just another way to meet people".

If you live in a country there are people whose job is to push you into an already over-capacitated train, there's something wrong. Pusher (railway station attendant) - Wikipedia
 

jt9258

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It actually scares me if doesn't rain for too long, you can't hate having fresh water coming from the sky and creating one of the world's most beautiful natural environment to live in. Also you have to have a clear understanding you can't justify having no private space, or no space at all and being clustered with others as "just another way to meet people".

If you live in a country there are people whose job is to push you into an already over-capacitated train, there's something wrong. Pusher (railway station attendant) - Wikipedia

If you do not like the housing and living spaces in Japan and or the weather what you doing here?

Because those of us who do live here just accept how things are.
 

OoTmaster

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See? It goes both ways. Japan is 75% mountains, so people learn to make do.

This is something I didn't even think to include in my search of area for each country. It certainly adds a lot of context to the "space comes at a premium" in Japan statement. It's a lot harder to construct anything in the mountains, so I suspect this cuts down their land they can develop even more.
 
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you can't hate having fresh water coming from the sky
Sure you can. We do here in Michigan. It literally kills people in the winter.

But what exactly is your proposed solution for high population density, anyway? Mass deportation? Ethnic cleansing? Giving more space to the wealthy and cramming the poor into smaller spaces to compensate? I can't think of anything that could magically give people in Japan larger living spaces without doing harm to millions of people, unless a whole bunch of them choose of their own volition to live in the mountains. If anything, you're being incredibly selfish and trying to pass it off as compassion.
 

Habaek

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Sure you can. We do here in Michigan. It literally kills people in the winter.

But what exactly is your proposed solution for high population density, anyway? Mass deportation? Ethnic cleansing? Giving more space to the wealthy and cramming the poor into smaller spaces to compensate? I can't think of anything that could magically give people in Japan larger living spaces without doing harm to millions of people, unless a whole bunch of them choose of their own volition to live in the mountains. If anything, you're being incredibly selfish and trying to pass it off as compassion.

Rather be dead on 2500 acres of land than to die in a prison cell like apartment condo.

you are lucky to live in Michigan

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OoTmaster

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Rather be dead on 2500 acres of land than to die in a prison cell like apartment condo.

I'm sorry if I missed the part where you explained why your personal preferences apply to an entire country of people with a culture completely different from your own. If you've already explained this please do direct me to the explanation. I'm sure some of these people have worked very hard to live in these "prison cell like apartment condos" you are referencing and wouldn't appreciate you minimizing their accomplishments.
 

JS=hyaku

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As far as housing size goes, the UK is not much better than Japan... I know from experience that there are few things more insulting than someone from another country commenting on how small the house you can only just afford to pay the mortgage on is.

But I'm troubled by the way this thread is developing. Since you're only visiting, Habaek, why worry? Certainly you may like to empathise with those who are miserable about their situation, but surely all the marvelous things in Japan that you don't or can't get anywhere else are what you are going for. If you're that troubled about needing to be pushed onto a train or the inhumanity of the housing provision, and you are concerned that a lack of space is causing physical and psychological impairment to the general population, don't go to Japan. Write to the Japanese embassy and tell them that you are boycotting their country until something is done.

I think that you need to listen to those who have already posted; you're entitled not to want to live this way, but your view suggests a rather large gulf in your cultural understanding of the situation. If anything, here is an opportunity to do some research into why the situation is as it is. It's a lot more complex than you seem to be making it and the lack of space is often seen as a challenge for designers to make the most of what is available.

And if you're dead, surely it really doesn't matter if you do have 2500 acres!
 

Glenski

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last year my parents and I went to Tokyo for a vacation, we even went to the famous Nikko I think it's a few hours drive north of Tokyo. Anyway we stayed in a three beds suite at a 3 stars hotel. One of the thing that had me thinking about is how tiny our suite was. The question I wanted to ask the entire time how do Japanese people live in such a clustered space.

it's not like I think the small space and their architecture is absolutely disgusting.
no offense, I just had a very hard time eating my ramen and trying to move at the same time at that ichiran place.
I posted these early messages from you just for my own sake.

First of all, are you even aware of how people live here? Your post seems to show that you are complaining of hotel and ramen restaurant size. That is not home size. Yes, some apartments are very tiny, but those "rabbit hutches" are meant to conserve space for single people. In other more "normal sized" apartments, what a lot of foreigners find difficult to handle is the low ceilings (especially between rooms) and shorter kitchen cabinets & bathroom sinks. The Japanese are a shorter people, so you shouldn't complain about that. How tall are you?

City space is at a premium here, so if you encountered a tiny restaurant that barely fits half a dozen people, it may be a very old business where other shops built up around it many decades ago. The land it's on is worth more than the shop itself, too, so whether you talk about shops or homes, there is money in that property. The tiny business stays in business because of its quality of goods, and the fact that the clientele (in the case of some ramen shops) don't stay longer than it takes to eat the food, so they have little time to feel uncomfortable. (I encountered a similar tiny restaurant that had a long line outside it in Minneapolis every day, so it's not just Japan.)

I live in what's called a mezzonet (sp?), which is a 2-floor apartment that might otherwise be called a townhouse in America. It is connected to another one on the side, so we share an entire wall. I used to live in a 1LDK, which was plenty big enough for one person, and I know some cases where couples lived in it. The question to ask is how much living space do you actually need? Having a small place forces you to not keep a lot of junk lying around. It also promotes family closeness to some degree. You grow up learning to respect each other's privacy, but only partly because of the small living space. The rest is cultural politeness.

If you can't take it, don't come here.
BTW, I lived in Seattle for 7 years. Never got used to the winter crappy weather. Daily rain and temps a degree above freezing. No wonder it was the suicide capital of the USA.
 
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Rather be dead on 2500 acres of land than to die in a prison cell like apartment condo.

you are lucky to live in Michigan

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You're complaining about the size of housing in urban Japan and then praising Michigan by posting pictures from the rural parts of the upper peninsula? Nice double-standard there. Why don't you take a look at what more urban areas look like? Try Detroit or Lansing or even Ann Arbor.

In any case, you've completely missed the point. I actually do like Michigan, believe it or not. We make do with the snow, tornadoes, potholes, lack of public transportation, etc. Japanese people make do with the high population density, seismic activity, etc. Seeing a pattern? It's okay to not like the living conditions of a place; if so, just don't go there. That doesn't mean that there are human rights violations afoot. Every place has advantages and disadvantages, and no place is perfect.
 
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tomoni

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(it's a matter of basic human decency)

Some things I would call basic human decency include, among others, not judging others based upon my egocentric view of life, not posting my opinions as fact when they are merely opinions, and not expecting the world to revolve around my sheltered u- bringing. If you want to learn something about basic human decency start be behaving like a decent human being.

Now Mr. Habaek, I will admit that is a bit harsh and it was said tongue in cheek. My actually advice would be to travel, live abroad, experience life a little and learn about other people and their cultures before you determine that your standards for what is acceptable housing may not be a universally shared value.

Good luck.
 

Habaek

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You're complaining about the size of housing in urban Japan and then praising Michigan by posting pictures from the rural parts of the upper peninsula? Nice double-standard there. Why don't you take a look at what more urban areas look like? Try Detroit or Lansing or even Ann Arbor.

In any case, you've completely missed the point. I actually do like Michigan, believe it or not. We make do with the snow, tornadoes, potholes, lack of public transportation, etc. Japanese people make do with the high population density, seismic activity, etc. Seeing a pattern? It's okay to not like the living conditions of a place; if so, just don't go there. That doesn't mean that there are human rights violations afoot. Every place has advantages and disadvantages, and no place is perfect.


Sir did you just say Detriot?

pretty sure is something like this there
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