Many people have asked what my apartment is like. Locally, it is advertised as a “4.5 1K”. It’s small, really small by American standards, a little bigger than a 1 car garage. The system that is used in Japan for classifying apartments is kind of interesting, so I’ll detail it a bit.
The classification system lists the size (4.5), and the amenities (1K).
The size of a room is measured in tatami mats. This is a little strange since tatami mats do not have a standard size. Depending on the region of the country, the mats will be of slightly larger or smaller size. The good news is that, as far as I can tell, within a region, the mats are all the same size.
I measured my mats at 175 x 85 cm. It’s interesting to note that the mats are not twice as long as they are wide. Compare this to the typical red brick which is created so that the length of the long end is exactly two short ends long. This allows the bricks to be arranged in several geometric patterns. Tatami mats on the other hand are not regular, they are longer than twice their width. This means that the mats have to be trimmed to fit into the proper floor pattern (there are aesthetic rules about how the mats are arranged in a room).
The reason I bring this all up is that since the mats have to be trimmed, there is even less information about the size of the room. Assuming an honest broker, you could have at most full mats, and at least, trimmed mats. In a 4.5 mat room, this is a difference of 2 square feet.
Typically only bedroom floor space is measured, the other rooms, including the kitchen, bathrooms, and closets, are not specified. Because of this, all apartment listings have accompanying floor plans.
In addition to size, apartments are classified using a number and letter code. The number represents the quantity of bedrooms, while the letter describes the amenities. I’ve only really seen three letter codes: D, L, and K. These stand for Dining area, Living area, and Kitchen area, respectively. Thus, a 1K is a single bedroom with a kitchen, and a 2DLK has two bedrooms a dining area, a living area, and a kitchen. Note that the dining and living areas are not different rooms, but merely indicate that the space could plausibly be used for both a dining table and a living space (small couch and TV, etc.) To get an actual idea of the size of these spaces, one must consult the floor plan.
So, my apartment has a bedroom of about 70 square feet, and I’d guess another 70 square feet devoted to closet, bathrooms, and kitchen. The room is very roughly 7 x 10 feet, and that makes it a bit tight for two people. It’s kind of like living on a boat.
For this reason we decided to move to a bigger place. More news on that next time!