AT Asia: Cheap Apartments in Urban Japan (物件 BUKKEN)

AT Asia: Cheap Apartments in Urban Japan (物件 BUKKEN)

Gregory Han
Sep 25, 2007
Here’s a 2.9 m² (approx. 31.22 ft²) apartment in Tokyo.  Just a five-minute walk from Kitasenju Station, it will set you back just 31,800 yen (approx. $278.81) per month.  It comes fully furnished with a fold-out bed, a desk, and appliances, and is even high-speed (fiber-optic) Internet-ready. Okay, okay, so this would be used as either an office or a weekend crash pad for those with a bit of cash to spare.  There are, however, many apartments in Japan that would be considered broom closets in Newport Beach.

Here are a couple of examples from Tokyo and Osaka, respectively:

Size: 10 m² (approx. 107.6 ft²) Built: January 1973 Rent: 28,000 yen + 1,650 yen in maintenance fees = 29650 yen (approx. $259.94)

A nine-minute walk from Waseda Station, this room would most likely be inhabited by a student from Waseda University.  There are no bathing facilities, meaning you would have to frequent the nearest public bath.  There is, however, a toilet, although it would be shared with your fellow inhabitants in the building.  There is a closet and something that could almost be considered half a kitchen, which puts this room above other such Tiny Tiny Rooms WIth Shared Toilets That Only Students Would Live In.  It also has two windows, which is more than I can say for my own apartment.

Size: 14 m² (approx. 150.7 ft²) Built: September 1963 Rent: 27,000 yen + 2,000 yen in maintenance fees = 29,000 yen (approx. $254.27)

Here’s an apartment in Nakazakichō, just a three-minute walk from Nakazakichō Station and fifteen from Umeda.  I&rquo;m not sure whether there are any universities nearby—I think there’s a design institute there—but I imagine the area must be popular with young people: there are so many nice (but often rather similar) little shops and cafés there that you start taking them for granted and whine about there being no place to go.  I don’t know my way around Tokyo, but I sort of know (parts of) Osaka, and it’s about as picturesque as the city gets.  It’s considered a two-room apartment because of the partition near the entrance.  Like the other apartment, it has no bathing facilities and only a shared toilet.  It does however have more of a kitchen, sort of, and it comes with air conditioning!

While both of these apartments are indeed small and cheap, it must be noted that there are apartments that are both smaller and cheaper.  I imagine that a lot of people back home in southern California would consider this to practically be a breach of human rights, but I think it’s great that such a cheap option exists.  Before moving to Japan, I shared a spacious one-bedroom apartment (what would be considered a “1LDK” in Japan: one [bed]room + living room + dining room + kitchen) with a roommate and we paid nearly $700 each, just because there were no smaller, cheaper apartments in the (extremely boring) vicinity, and personally, I find that far more upsetting.

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