There are currently two major types of housing in Japan: the single-family detached homes and multi-family dwellings. According to the 2008 Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications housing statistics, most people in Japan live in single-family home. Of the total home count, 55.4% are single-family homes, 41.7% are multi-family dwellings and remaining 2.7% are single-family houses clustered together sharing walls. (pie graph) The single-family detached home is more traditional and is built mainly with materials including wooden and iron. Unlike western housings, a typical Japanese single-family home does not have a clear designated use for each room with the exception of the kitchen, bathroom and toilet. Instead, it uses a sliding door that made of wood and paper, to separate space. Furthermore, the sliding door can be removed when large space is needed. Despite such flexible designation of space usage, almost every Japanese single-family home has at least one “washitsu”, which is a traditional Japanese room furnished with tatami mats as flooring. In addition, a single-family home will have an entrance place called genkan, where people leave their shoes when they enter the home. Although overall single-family detached home still dominates housing in Japan, statistics show that if we look at large cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, majority of homes are actually multi-family dwellings (52.1% of the three regions combined: Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya metropolitan areas, in 2008), and 56.4% of the housing stock around Tokyo are multi-family dwellings. Therefore single-family detached home is a major housing style in suburban or rural areas in Japan. Commonly known as apartments, multi-family dwelling consists of rental apartments or owned condominium. The typical apartment in Japan is much smaller than in the U.S. and usually comes with wooden or tatami floors. A “tatami” is traditionally made of rice straw, although in more recent times, it is often made of...
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