In Japan, fully furnished apartments are rare unless you’re searching for something short-term or specific on Room Finder. Otherwise, when you move into your new place, you’ll have a lot of empty space.
What kind of essential items do you need for your new apartment in Japan? It’s easy to overlook the small stuff—especially things that will keep your apartment clean so you can get your deposit back one day. That said, here are some items everyone needs after moving to a new home.
Unlike many countries where a range or oven is standard, older Japanese apartments often don’t have stoves or ovens installed. Before rushing off to buy a burner, you should consider the types of food you will eat. A single burner could be plenty if you are a canned food and instant ramen-type eater. A toaster oven is enough if you only need an oven for browning and reheating frozen foods. If you cook a lot, an air fryer or microwave can be a good alternative.
If you want to cook fish, you may want a burner with a fish grill—and consider fish sheets. It will get gross real fast. You will definitely want filters and covers for your vents and the walls around your burner to protect from oil and burns. Otherwise, kiss your deposit goodbye. A cover like this range guard is great; these filters will allow air to circulate but block the grime.
A lot of floors in Japan are made of wood. Thankfully, this makes cleaning easy, but you must wipe them regularly. For wood, the best thing to use is a floor wiper with replaceable sheets. Simply wipe it down every few days, then ball up the sheet to scrub at stubborn stains and throw it away. There are even sheets for wiping tatami, too, if you live in an apartment with that flooring.
With all this cleaning, you will also find that your clothes will pick up a lot of fluff from the floor. Use a lint roller with light tape that sticks to dust, but not your clothes. It can also pick up dust from tatami, Japanese-style screens. Most rentals in Japan require you to separate trash. That said, partitioned trash cans can really make your life easier. If your local supermarket has a recycling section, you will also need a sturdy bag to keep it from breaking as you walk to the store.
Sorting Out Ventilation
In summer, you’ll want to ensure the air conditioner is in good condition—and stays that way. A filter sheet is helpful. Put it over the ventilation ports in your air conditioner and change it whenever it gets too dusty.
No matter how well you handle the ventilation, you will likely find that condensation grows on your window: an unfortunate fact of living in a humid environment like Japan. Investing in a condensation scoop can help gather the condensation before the wooden frames of the windows start to mold.
Mold can be a huge problem in Japan, especially black mold. Dehumidifying packs for your wardrobe, drawers, food containers, and possibly even your refrigerator are essential, as even the smallest rogue drop of water can soon turn your house into a menagerie of moldiness.
The sinkhole you use to wash up is also a potential breeding ground, especially if small particles get trapped down there. Many people also use wooden slats to raise the futon. These slats put a layer of air between the futon and the tatami mats that improves circulation, fights mold and helps make the futon feel firmer.
Finally, it is time to think about the bedroom. Here you have two choices: bed or futon. Most people in Japanese-style apartments opt for a futon that you roll down at night and roll up when you go to work/study. Depending on your taste, and especially if you have wooden floors, you’ll probably need something to make it softer, like a mattress that goes underneath to add an extra layer.
Many people also use wooden slats to raise the futon. These slats put a layer of air between the futon and the tatami mats that improve circulation, fight mold and help make the futon feel firmer. With these apartment essentials, you can set up your apartment and use your time for more important things, like sightseeing and finding a great job.
What are the most important things for setting up a new apartment? What is the one thing you wish you’d bought for your apartment? Let us know in the comments!