We absolutely love our little home – all 365 square feet of it! The entire apartment is less than twice the size of our storage room back home in Canada but because of its large windows and the lack of a lot of furniture, it doesn’t feel cramped. The end apartment on the second floor of a two storey walk up, it has 3 rooms – the kitchen, the kotatsu room and the tatami room.
The kitchen has a large sink, a two burner gas stove, a small fridge, a microwave, a toaster oven, a washing machine, a few shelves and cupboards and virtually no counter space. The stove doesn’t have an oven but it has a little grilling drawer that is great for cooking fish or a couple of pork chops.
The kotatsu room is so named because it’s main piece of furniture is the kotatsu, a low heated table that sits on a quilted mat and is surrounded by a cozy futon – a nice place to sit on a chilly morning or evening. This is where we eat our meals. Richard has mastered the art of kneeling at the table but I find it difficult so I’ve acquired a small cushion for sitting on. The computer also lives in the corner of the kotatsu room and our one chair is usually at the computer desk.
Tatami is a floor covering made of tightly woven grass that is every bit as warm and comfortable as carpet. Traditionally, room size is determined by the number of tatami mats. Each mat is approximately 6 feet long and 3 feet wide and ours is a six tatami room. This is our combination livingroom/bedroom. In traditional Japanese style, we sleep on futons on the floor and the bedding is put away during the day. Rather than putting the futon and the foam under-futon away in the big storage cupboard during the day, we fold them up and cover them with a blanket to form a low couch for sitting on. That, along with a small plastic chest of drawers is all the furniture in that room.
The bathroom probably deserves a blog entry all it’s own but for now, it’s actually two separate rooms. One has the toilet with its built in hand washing sink on top of the tank and the other has our mini bathtub with hand held shower and a small sink.
Patio doors open off the end of the kotatsu room onto a tiny balcony designed mainly for hanging laundry. The tatami room also has big sliding windows on the south end as well as a smaller window that juts out on the west wall.
Like most older homes in Japan, ours lacks central heating, isn’t well sealed against the elements and probably doesn’t have much for insulation. It would probably be a bit warmer if it wasn’t an end apartment exposed to the outside world on three sides but I wouldn’t trade it for an inside apartment. I love having the extra window on the end wall. On a very clear morning, we can actually see Mt. Fuji, about 120 km west of here! In addition to a small kerosene heater which we use only when it’s very chilly, we have a built in electic heater/air conditioner in the kotatsu room and a portable electric heater which we keep in the tatami room.
I had hoped to include photos with this blog entry but I’ve forgotten how to do that and it’s been a long day so it will have to wait.