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No Space? No Problem! 5 ways to optimise small Japanese homes
No Space? No Problem! 5 ways to optimise small Japanese homes

Hi y’all! I’m Mio, a Japanese-American and recent graduate of Sophia University, which is located in the heart of Tokyo! Since moving to Japan nearly five years ago, I’ve enjoyed my student life to the fullest with all that Japan has to offer, and I’m now getting to experience Japan as a shakaijin (社会人, member of society i.e. a working person). Whether you’re still a student, living in Japan, or even just visiting Japan, I hope my insider tips will be useful to help you optimise space with storage and other items in a Japanese home with amazing Japanese homeware tools!

Mio Yamada with camera

Mio Yamada

Content Creator

Mio Yamada is a freelance bilingual writer, photographer, editor, and content contributor in the Japanese tourism industry since the beginning of her university days at Sophia University.

Living in Japan

one room japanese apartment … (With images) | Apartment interior ...
Credit: Pinterest

When people imagine living in Japan, some may imagine living in a modern high-rise apartment while others may imagine a more traditional Japanese home with wooden interiors.

Regardless of what you may have had in mind, now that you’ve moved in you’re probably looking to decorate and spruce up your new place, or maybe you packed too many boxes and have started binge watching Konmari. With the quarantine rules and coronavirus concerns, many of us are now stuck in tiny studios or at best, a 1LDK.

So today I want to dive into the art of decorating and organizing a small Japanese home to make it feel a little more spacious, and where you can find these items!

Let’s start with one of my favorite rooms in the house: The Kitchen.


Strange kitchen contraption | The Japans
Credit: The Japans

If you’re like me and cook a lot at home, or are trying to learn more recipes during this lockdown, a disorganized kitchen can make cooking a hassle and sometimes it gets so mendokusai (めんどくさい, troublesome) that you end up ordering UberEats instead.

Storage unit

Credit: Nitori

The space under your sink might be small but thanks to the height of sinks, a portable and multi-level shelf like the one below will allow you to stack pots, pans, canned food, and other non-perishable items. Unlike a regular kitchen shelf, this doesn’t take up any floor space in the kitchen or get in the way of a walkway, perfect for small Japanese homes.

If you want to get this Japanese homeware online, you can check it here:https://a.r10.to/hzxy1v

Wall racks

Credit: Nitori

For items you don’t want to store under the sink, I recommend small attachable wall racks for spices and cooking utensils you use most often. This way, the items you use the most will be right in front of you while you cook, optimise space and this eliminates the need of opening up different cabinets to search for that one spice you always misplace.

If you want to get this Japanese homeware online, you can check it here: https://a.r10.to/hIs1Ox

Clear storage unit

Credit: Nitori

Using clear storage boxes to store smaller items on the rack or in the pantry, is a personal recommendation of mine. When we buy items and store them away, we tend to forget them as they’re not out in the open. Clear storage boxes allow you to see exactly what you put in them every time you open the pantry or cabinets, and that alone will remind you of items you have to use up before the expiration date!

If you want to get this Japanese homeware online, you can check it here: https://a.r10.to/hIUpdY

Now, let’s move on to the living room and bedroom. 

Living room and Bedroom

The biggest challenge of decorating your living room and bedroom in your small Japanese home is trying to make the space feel open and larger than it actually is, which is hard to do when your apartment is less than 500 square feet, but it’s not entirely impossible. 

Credit: Nitori

A slim but full-length mirror creates an illusion of a bit more space and adds a bit of charm to the room as well. You can match the color of the frame with other cabinets or wall colors in the home so that it blends in nicely with the flow of the room. Nowadays, there are also mirrors that you can hang from a door, which further frees up floor space!

If you want to get this Japanese homeware online, you can check it here: https://a.r10.to/hInhtt

Credit: Nitori

Clear shoebox storage cases are great to help optimise space. At first glance, they seem boring and almost random, but just like with items in the pantry and kitchen, being able to see what shoes you have without opening up every box is a huge time saver during the morning rush. 

If you want to get this Japanese homeware online, you can check it here: https://a.r10.to/hIa3bU

Where to find these items? 

All of the above-mentioned Japanese homeware tools to help you optimise space can be found at furniture and home goods stores such as Nitori, Loft, Tokyu Hands, and even at Daiso! Obviously, the options at Daiso are much less costly but the mentioned major retailers do offer a higher quality finish or customization of colour, type of wood, and even delivery options. All of which are critical factors to consider now with the quarantine rules in place!

Find out more about tips on travelling or living in Japan. If you have any questions or want to get in touch, feel free to DM us on Instagram or message us on Facebook Messenger! We would love to talk with you!


Hey friend!

Just like you, we are foreigners from all around the world.

When we first arrived in Tokyo, we all found this city to be overwhelming, not sure where to begin.

During the years that we have lived here in Japan, we have discovered and visited countless famous tourist attractions as well as unique and underground places.

We are now proud to say that we are experts of Japan and would love to share the knowledge with all of you!


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