Renting an Apartment in Japan and What to Expect

October 19th, 2014

Japanese apartments are very different from those in the United States, primarily due to the smaller size of most accommodations, particularly in large cities like Tokyo. While many apartments are still small in size, there are a growing number of larger apartments throughout the country that are more like Western style apartments. Visitors who are familiar with the country already know that there are differences in the bathrooms of nearly all Japanese homes, but in many other ways, today’s apartments are simply smaller versions of what most visitors are accustomed to. Visitors to Japan who are planning to stay for an extended period often prefer renting a furnished “short stay” apartment as a way to cut costs. With a few exceptions, Japanese apartments are similar to homes in Japan and many reflect the modern culture of large cities.

Japanese Rental Apartments Mansions and Houses

While most American apartments are measured in terms of square feet, Japanese apartments are measured in terms of tatami mats. A tatami mat is a woven straw floor covering which measures roughly three by six feet. Apartments are measured this way whether they have wooden or tatami flooring, and both are common options in Japan. Rooms that have wall-to-wall carpeting are fairly rare in Japanese apartments.

Upon entering Japanese apartments, you will usually walk into an entrance area called a genkan where visitors are expected to remove their shoes. Apartments all have a bathroom and separate toilet room, although other rooms in the apartment will vary. When looking at listings for Japanese apartments, you will usually see the abbreviations L, D, and K, which refer to the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Apartments are listed with the number of bedrooms first, followed by L, D, and K to indicate which rooms are in the apartment.

Japanese apartments will look different based on the area where they are located, the age of the building, the cost of renting the apartment, and whether the building is considered more “traditional” or “western”. The very small apartments that some people picture when they think of Japan are usually found in big cities, and they are usually older buildings where rent is less expensive. The best way to describe these apartments is to say that they are similar to a college dorm room, with enough room for the necessities but not a lot of extra room. On the other end of the spectrum are luxury apartments that are often quite expensive to rent but which provide all the amenities that a person could want. It is not uncommon to find that Japanese Apartments have rooms separated by sliding doors, rather than solid walls. Also called “shoji screens”, these dividers can make an apartment feel larger than it really is. In general, the Japanese are not fond of having a ton of possessions that clutter up the living space, and so there is usually not a lot of storage space in Japanese apartments. The standard of living that is expected of most people is to have a clean, simply decorated apartment that is free of excessive “stuff.” Remember, the concept of Feng Shui comes from Japan originally, and the principles of this design aesthetic are common throughout the country.

Japanese apartments reflect a country that is small, and often crowded, and where the people are very proud of their homes. Visitors will find that living in Japanese apartments can be cramped if they fill the apartment with a lot of excess “stuff”. For those planning an extended stay in Japan, staying in a short term lease furnished apartment can save money and give a more realistic experience of today’s Japan.

Come Visit Japan! Here’s why…

September 16th, 2014

Japan is a country with the promise of bright lights and the gadgets of tomorrow. But this country has more secrets within its borders than a thousand history books can give you. Japan is a traveler’s paradise, a treasure trove of knowledge and a kingdom just waiting to be explored. You may think you know about the Japanese culture; the books, technology and food, but until you’ve wondered the streets, seen the people and stumbled across the oasis of untouched landscapes you can’t begin to imagine the pure beauty of the country.

A country like no other, Japan is a must for any traveler seeking to explore the hidden beauty offered to those who are willing to find it. From the moment you step foot on Japanese soil there’s no doubt that you’ll wonder that even with a thousand lifetimes how you’ll ever manage to explore every last hidden treasure. But there’s no need to worry, the country has it covered. If you fancy a change of scenery the high speed modernized rail system will take you from the city of fine dining and classic shops to a world of peace, tranquility and historic beauty.


Perhaps the best detail about the country is its ability to keep its history intact. Japan may seem like a technologically super-powered country, and it is, but what lies behind the walls of the cities is what truly represents Japan. A quick trip out into the country will show you an entirely different world. You can take a step back in time and witness the living settlements of Ancient Japan, see how its people value their ancient customs and beliefs in a way that cannot be compared. Farmers tend their crops and children run in the mountains while mere miles away the latest technology is being developed.

As a country with more than 100 volcano’s and a landscape made up of the most breath-taking mountains there’s no way you can get enough. Over 6,000 islands lay waiting for you to explore, all being almost completely untouched. If you don’t fancy a hotel break in the city then you can always find a locally run hostel nestled deep within the vast array of islands. Your only issue then is finding the very best accommodation for you, hunting down that secret that no other traveler has ever found. has some of the most secluded and beautiful spots ever seen, something a little different that you can guarantee will bring back the most amazing memories for years to come.

So whether you want to pick up the newest phone, scale an active volcano, spend some time with the locals or taste some truly authentic cuisine, Japan is the place to be. It’s no wonder the emigration rates are rock bottom with every unique opportunity the country gives its population. You can even try your hand at a bit of sumo wrestling, still the national sport in Japan. A wealth of cultural experiences awaits those who dare visit one of the most amazing countries in the world.

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Top 6 Highly Unique Yet Practical Products to Originate from Japan

August 21st, 2014

There are so many ways one’s life can be touched by the Japanese culture and Japanese inventions. But unique products sourced from Japan need not end up on an office shelf or just to be used for a friendly laugh with an interested colleague in your workplace. Some of the products to come out of Japan are both unique and absolutely practical. Check out the list we compiled for this very occasion below and let us know what you think!

1. Butter Former

This kind of butter former makes a whole lot of sense for the convenience and ease of use it brings to the kitchen. So if you like your toast with butter, this Motex Easy Butter Former will convert hard butter from your fridge into delicious buttery threads that will melt right away on your toast. Good stuff!

2. Sound Catch Cubic Pillow
Sound Catch Cubic Pillow
This specialty product is purpose-built with one goal in mind. That is to let your enjoy your sound panorama in stereo mode while while getting lazy around the house. Like all things Japanese what this Pillow is built for it does perfectly well!

3. Photograph Yourself Arm
Photograph Yourself Arm
If there is any trend in the world that is larger than life at the moment it’s the selfies. Bathroom, outdoors, in-car, background action selfies, you name it. With this wide-spread of a trend somebody just had to do it and invent a full-fledged Photograph Yourself Arm. With this device you can take selfies to a whole new level, or a whole new height if you please. The Photograph Yourself Arm will help you to unleash your inner photography talents upon the world with a variety of incredible and seemingly impossible selfie angles. Now you know!

4.Astronaut Smartphone Stand
Astronaut Smartphone Stand
This specialty product is purpose-built with one goal in mind. That is to make your phone more accessible on the table in a way that is most aesthetically appealing. Like all things Japanese, well engineered and sturdily built this Astronaut Smartphone Stand does its job perfectly well! So let your phone rest in style and make your desk stand out in any setting, whether home or office!

5. Workaholic Desk Pillow
Workaholic Desk Pillow
Whether you work too much and need to keep this handy or just for fun. Few things can beat how witty and clever this thing is, especially if you still remember being a student and getting ready for the mid-term or final exams. So, nostalgic, clever, aesthetic or practical, a Workaholic Pillow is a unique gift with some serious implications, as good rest is fundamental to any productive achievement!

6. Banana Keeper
Banana Keeper
Coming out of Japan, this invention is definitely got take the crown of the most useful. Ever packed yourself launch just to find a banana squished all over your bag? If not, god forbid you encounter this issue. Although coming in at number six in our list, out of all of the unique products to come out of Japan this one has got score the highest in practicality. That is precisely the reason that the seemingly silly invention of a Banana Keeper is truly a keeper!

There you have it, top 6 highly unique yet practical products to come out of Japan! But don’t let the ‘Made in Japan’ tag stop you from discovering that which is hip, trendy and popular in Japan. Let the Japanese consumer culture be your guide to the best, most practical and unique products from around the world! The matter of fact is, in the recent years Japan has also widely adopted some cool inventions from other countries, which you might have never heard of. Japanese people made these innovations their own through incredibly wide adoption, popularity and recognition. Such is the case, for example with Raycop, a small robot vacuum cleaner engineered in Korea to clean out mites on bed and mattresses, or a Nonfryer, a device designed by Philips to fry food without oil. So stay open and enjoy life Japan-style!

Non-formal and Fun Ways to Learn Japanese

August 6th, 2014

Learning a foreign language is always difficult, and Japanese is one of those languages that has proven to be more difficult to learn. For one thing, it has four character sets: romaji, kanji, katakana and hiragana. These alone sound intimidating. Still, generally speaking, learning any new language is not easy. But if the interest is there, finding ways to learn the language faster comes naturally.

The most natural course is to sign up for Japanese language lessons, which involves reading books and listening to audio. The lessons can be repetitive because it is one of the better ways to learn and remember. But after a while, it could be boring, especially if you are having a difficult time remembering.

There are several things you can do to supplement your formal Japanese language lessons that are more fun to do and require almost no effort at all. You might actually be doing some of these things already. Active learning is highly beneficial when learning new languages, but there is still some merit in passive learning, which you’ll find out here. It is something that takes little effort to do, yet could be of help to learn Japanese faster.



A thing about passive learning

Passive learning, as it applies to Japanese language lessons, means that you are spending time to listen and consume audio-visual media in Japanese. The term passive here means that you are just listening to the Japanese language rather than actively doing anything. When it comes to video, you could watch it with or without subtitles in English, but it is still dependent on your current level. But still, without worrying about vocabulary, this exercise allows you to absorb more Japanese words and phrases through listening and watching.

While you are effectively listening to the audio-visual media, your brain goes into an active mode as it interprets what you are listening to and converts it to information that you will eventually understand. Getting used to this type of learning also helps you to be a better listener.

Even if you do not know any Japanese, the repetition of the words allows you to get used to them and pretty soon, the words no longer sound foreign. It also helps you get familiar with how the words are pronounced, and learn the tone and accent of the language.


Tools for passive learning

What makes passive learning fun is the variety of tools that are available. You have Japanese audio books, games, podcasts, music, movies, dramas and anime. Watch your favorite Japanese movie or drama but turn off the subtitles. You will still be able to follow because you have seen the video several times, presumably, since it is your favorite. As you are watching, you will be able to pick up words and phrases that may already be familiar to you and learn new words and phrases as well.

You do not have to stop your passive learning while you are on the go. You still have several choices, such as podcasts, audio books and Japanese music. Remember, repetition is what aids you in learning and remembering, and what better way to learn than listening to music? If you haven’t noticed, it is easier for you to remember the lyrics of a song, even if it is in a foreign language. That is because you keep repeating the words that have been set to music.


Pair it with active learning

Of course passive learning is just a supplement. You still have to do active learning to immerse yourself fully in learning the Japanese language. Still, combined with some passive learning techniques, you will have more fun while learning the language, and learn more about the Japanese culture at the same time.

Author Bio:

Ronnie Avelino is working for, a global interpreting and certified translation services provider with headquarters in Tampa, Florida, US, and offices worldwide.


A Guide For Japanese Tourists Abroad

August 5th, 2014

For the Japanese tourist abroad, a vacation should be something that they look forward to. It is a chance to unwind, visit exciting and interesting places, or to simply reconnect with friends and family. What no one wants to experience though, is a vacation that turns out to be more stressful than normal daily life. New cultures and languages can be overwhelming, and sometimes even loved ones can add to the level of stress. For the Japanese on vacation, sometimes the stress can be even worse, with culture-shock and drastically different infrastructures from those at home.

English is Globally Important

english language

Even though it is mandatory for students in Japan to study English for six years, this does not necessarily mean that it is now a second language. Many Japanese tourists find that common phrases they studied in school, simply are not used in usual conversations. Adding to the confusion is the undeniable fact that one English word can have several different meanings.

Many Japanese on vacation also quickly learn that using their syllabic alphabet to pronounce English words will often only get them blank looks and stares. Knowing at least a few key phrases, can make ordering a simple meal easier and also make it possible to understand directions. For anyone wondering why knowing a few words in English is so important, consider that the language is spoken in almost every country in the world.

Restaurant Etiquette in Western Culture


Learning about the culture, before visiting, is always a good idea. Not only does this help to avoid misunderstandings while visiting abroad, it also helps to make the vacation a lot more pleasurable. Knowing something as simple as proper etiquette in a restaurant can really make a vacation so much more enjoyable and a lot less stressful.

Tipping is one of the most important differences between Japanese and Western cultures. While in Japan it is not generally common, in other countries tipping is not only encouraged it is expected. It is not only tipping that can cause a bit of culture shock, but even the size of the dinner plate. Before leaving Japan on vacation, travelers should be aware that the entrée is normally served on a single large plate.

Instead of the traditional Japanese meal that consists of several individual plates, one plate typically holds the entire meal. It can take be bit of getting used to, especially if someone is not used to having all of their food touching. While multiple plates can be used, once again it can often be seen as rude and inconsiderate.

Different Driving Laws and Policies

Danger School Traffic Signal

Driving in Japan can be compared to playing a video game since traffic lights and “Stop” signs are only suggestions, and there is no such thing as a driver or pedestrian having the right of way it. As fun as this may be in Japan, it is generally not a good idea in many other countries.

In most major metropolitan cities around the world, the traffic laws actually have to be obeyed. This means politely bumping somebody out of the way is generally frowned upon, and pedestrians and cyclists have the right of way. If this isn’t enough to make any Japanese tourist think twice about renting a car, the fact that some countries drive on the left side of the road while others drive on the right might be enough.

Even Vending Machines in America are Stressful

too much stress

It is hard to imagine anything frustrating about a vending machine. In Japan there is everything from snacks and juices to inexpensive cigarettes and alcohol. The machines are always stocked and most importantly, they are in working order.

Japanese traveling abroad will quickly realize that they might have been taking their vending machines for granted. While some in Europe and other Asian countries may still stock beer and even cigarettes, finding anything to drink that isn’t carbonated can be an impossible challenge. A decidedly higher price will also probably be noticed. These slight changes in a daily item that has always been so convenient probably will not be that upsetting, but for Japanese visiting America for the first time they might be in for a bit of a shock.

Not only are the prices quite a bit higher for carbonated beverages and chips, the chances of there being a problem with the machine is actually rather high. Out of stock items are common, along with not dispensing an item, or simply not working. Added to the inconvenience is the fact that the selection is always limited.

Relax and Stay Connected to Home

relax and stay connected

Traveling abroad can be stressful, which is why it is always nice to be able to relax in the hotel room. One of the best ways to relax, is to sit back and catch up on favorite Japanese TV shows. With the easy to pack TVpad Japanese traveling abroad can still stay connected.

This set on top box, can be used anywhere there is an internet connection. What better way to unwind after a long day of experiencing other cultures, and the stress that can accompany it, than relaxing with familiar television characters. TVpad gives users access to over 20 different Japanese channels so travelers can stay up to date with all of the latest local news and television shows. Choose a classic movie to cure a sudden case of homesickness, or one of the educational shows to brush up on English phrases.

A TVpad is small, portable and lightweight. It can be used with its own travel case or easily slip into a suitcase pocket. While it can be hooked up to almost any HD TV, an inexpensive adapter can make it possible for the same great Japanese channels to be streamed to a PC. When the shock of being in a different culture becomes too much, watching a favorite Japanese TV show can make anyone feel like they are back at home.

Traveling without Stress

Even traveling through the different regions of Japan can be stressful, and it only increases when vacationing abroad. Learning a few words in English and a few facts about the culture can help to reduce stress and make a vacation more enjoyable, and TVpad can help travelers stay connected and relaxed.