Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Interesting things I've learned in Japan so far... HOUSE edition

This could be the norm or just be my family's home, but I wanted to point out some really interesting differences of Japanese homes and their traditions.

Japanese baths
First and foremast is the bath situation. Here in the States, most people either take a shower (no bath), or when they do take a bath, they clean and rinse their bodies in the the bathtub. Not so much in Japan. In Japanese homes, the shower and bath are completely separate (although still in the same room), and there is a "succession of rules" to follow.

First- While the shower and bathtub may be in the same room, it is never in the same area. What I mean is this- In the US, if you have a bathtub with a shower head, it is normally in the same area. The shower head is on the wall in the same area as the bathtub like this, right?

You will never see this in a Japanese bathroom. The shower and bathtub may be in the same room, but never in the same area. The reason is this- the Japanese feel one must clean and rinse your body in the shower area, and then once you're clean, you enter the hot bathtub. For this reason, the bathtub water stays clean, and you don't need to refill it every time someone new enters it. The thought behind it is- since you're only going into the tub to soak after you're already clean, several people can go into the tub without replacing the water since it's essentially "clean".

Here is a picture of our (and when I say "our", I am indicating my family's home in Japan) bathroom. The shower area is on one side

And the bathtub is to the right of the shower. The cover is on the tub so the heat remains in the tub

Japanese tubs also tend to be very deep, like a hot tub. Thus, you can just sit,soak, and relax, and your entire body is covered in water without having to "scrunch" your back.

Also, while it is quite common to have the shower, tub, and toilet in the same room here in the US, you will never find a shower/tub in the same room as the toilet. In Japan, they are most likely in separate rooms.

I also love how the shower temperature is already "set" at warm (and I have the ability to increase/decrease the heat.) In the States, when I am ready to take a shower, I have to turn the knob and I have a pretty good estimate on where I need to turn the shower knob to to get my desired heat for my shower. Then I need to wait a minute or two for the water to warm up. In Japan, the temperature of the water is already "set" to a warm temperature. Thus, the minute you turn on the shower, the water is already warm.

If you want to increase or decrease the water temperature, you can do so through the touchpad. This one even talks to you (hence the speaker).

Another thing I really like is that you can sit while you shower. This definitely makes it relaxing (and easier for women to shave their legs!)

Japanese light-up light switches
I am pretty sure we have something similar to this here, but in a lot of Japanese homes, the light switches go Left/Right (not up/down as it is here), and are lighted for easier visibility.
They are just more common in Japan than I see in homes here.

Efficient usage of space
In our home in Japan, there are 2 types of doors- the classic, swing-open door and sliding doors. Here is a perfect example of space-efficiency: the bathroom door swings open (the door in the front), but the kitchen door behind it is a sliding door. Thus, the 2 doors won't collide.

When it comes to space efficiency, this makes absolutely sense... and honestly, why don't we make more doors here sliding doors? Much more space efficient (and you definitely need to be space efficient here since Japanese homes tend to be smaller in scale than US homes)

Even bathroom cabinets follow this rule. This bathroom is somewhat narrow (remember that toilets and shower/tubs are in separate rooms in Japan)- thus, even the toilet room cabinets are sliders

I also like how the sink in the toilet room isn't big and doesn't take up a lot of space

Bidet toilets
We loved LOVED LOOOOVED bidet toilets! They are so common in Japan, and our butts are not the same now. I know I've already posted numerous pictures of bidet toilets, but the one in our home in Japan has a manual flush. The kanji 大 means "big", and the kanji 小 means "small"- thus, you press the lever upwards for a "big flush" and downwards for a "small" flush

Why not make your bathroom experience more fun with a touchpad toilet experience?
... And my favorite part- the heated toilet seats!

Genkan- Genkans are traditional Japanese entranceways for a house/apartment. This is generally used to remove one's shoes before entering the home, and is lower than the main level of the house. I like that all the dirt and debris from your shoes remain in the genkan area (and not being drug into the house)

I thought this was neat- This is a power strip but instead of having one "on/off" switch for the entire strip, each outlet had its own "on/off" switch... to conserve energy, maybe?

Automatic Blinds Closer
I love these- no more messy strings and uneven blinds. By pushing the up or down button, the blinds will automatically open or close with the touch of a button

Front door- At both of my aunt's homes, the front door isn't a lever or a round knob- both are these types of handles where you just push the long handle. Just push the handle forward, and the door opens- great for those who have arthritis or who are elderly

Subfloor kitchen storage- Why don't we see these more often in the US? The subfloor storage is efficient and a great way to store dry goods (think: rice, spaghetti, etc)

Since space is tight, refrigerators are narrower (I never once saw side-to-side fridge/freezer combos), and many of them have touchpads to increase/decrease the temperature, alert you when the door has been left open, etc.


Jacob Tompkins said...

This is very interesting stuff. Do the Japanese shower at a higher temperature than Westerners? And do you remember the brand/make of the showerhead. I am interested as we are doing some work on water conservation in showers in the UK and it would be good to see if theres anything transferable from Japan. Thanks Jacob

Sara said...

Hi Jacob,
No, I don't believe the Japanese shower at a higher temp, but I do remember the baths we soaked in afterwards washing was very warm. I don't remember the specifics about the showerhead, but we have a lot of Toto brand bathrooms appliances in the house (which is very popular in Japan). Hope this helps!