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Maciamo
Apr 21, 2004, 22:57
As a North-Western European, I can't help but notice numerous differences between the European houses I am used to and Japanese ones. Here is a list of them.

Construction

- Japanese houses don't have cellars or basements. It is apparently prohibited by laws. What a waste of space in crowded cities like Tokyo. No wine cellar, no additional place to store food, but since they don't normally have central heating, so they don't need a boiler.

- Japanese houses have no attic or loft. That may also look like a waste of space, but actually, they are often built on 3 floors instead of 2, so the attic is just an additional floor right under the roof (which means freezing in winter and stifling in summer).

- Many new Japanese houses have flat roofs with a terrace on the top. This is a creative gain of space - convenient to dry the laundry. As it rains much less in Tokyo than anywhere in Northern Europe, that's fine.

- Walls are thin (about 10cm) and hollow. It's almsot possible to detroy them with a kick or a small hammer. That is because of earthquakes and gives a feeling of "paper house" to the habitations. This is in sharp contrast to the European stone or brick walls thickened by an additional layer of thermic insulation (glass fiber...) and plaster, which Japanese houses almost never have. I was personally used to 1m deep stone walls that would not be destroyed by a sledgehammer or a poweful gun. Double-glazing is also rare in private Japanese houses.

- As I mentioned above, central heating is uncommon and so is floor heating (I suppose that this is because they have wooden floors everywhere instead of tiled floors, so cold on the feet in winter). Japanese heat themselves mostly with portable "gas heaters", not fixed electric or fuel radiators.

- European houses don't usually have air conditioning, because summer aren't hot enough in the North and are very dry in the South, so that the shade and thick walls are enough to keep it cool inside. All Japanese houses (except in Hokkaido ?) have air conditioning in almsot every room, as it would be unbearable during the muggy summer without it.

- Windows and doors normally open by sliding, especially in slighlty older (can't be very old in Japan) or traditional buildings. Window frames don't have partition in the the middle (just contours).

Rooms and utilities

- On top of the lack of cellar and loft, Japanese houses very rarely or never have pantry or larder (I admit it is getting unusual in Europe too), study room (probably only big houses anyway), utility room, garage or ball room (no I am kidding on this one ;-) ).

- Japanese washing machines open from the top rather than from the side.

- Japanese rarely have a dishwasher or tumble dryer (eventhough they make the 2 in 1 models with washing machines now, if space is an issue).

- The bathroom is usually small because it is limited to the bath and shower space, without "dry ground", nor furnitures (for the towels, soap, cosmetics...) or sink to brush your teeth, make up or shave. Everything is outside the bathroom, sometimes on another floor (eg. on the landing beteen 2 rooms or next to the entrance hall).

Outside

- Japanese houses in big cities very rarely have a garden (AmE = yard), contrarily to houses even in London.

- The architecture is very standardised, all in concrete, and only the colour of the fakes bricks or painting differentiate them. This is true from the Northern tip of Hokkaido all the way through the 3000km down the Southern reaches of Kyushu. Needless to say that European architecture vary not only by geographical region but equally inside a same city of village, due to the quick evolution of styles in time.

bossel
Apr 22, 2004, 02:27
Really interesting!
I don't think, I would like the thin walls.
These top loader washing machines you mentioned are nowadays also hip in Europe, although front loaders still are the vast majority.

If there are no gardens, are there at least enough parks & such? Have my doubts about the big Japanese cities. Wouldn't like that either. I need some green stuff around me.

"1m deep stone walls"?
Did you live in some Belgian castle?

mdchachi
Apr 22, 2004, 05:04
Don't forget the closets. Japanese homes usually have fairly large closets split by a single [shelf] and is designed for storing futon. They don't usually have vertically oriented clothes closets like in America. I don't know about Europe but I suspect they don't provide futon storage.

edit: meant to say "single shelf"

Maciamo
Apr 22, 2004, 10:50
Don't forget the closets. Japanese homes usually have fairly large closets split by a single and is designed for storing futon. They don't usually have vertically oriented clothes closets like in America. I don't know about Europe but I suspect they don't provide futon storage.

Actually I didn't mention the "oshi-ire" on pupose because I have been used to this system all my life. We just call them "cupboard" (or "placard" in French, but there is no equivalent in English) or even larder, if it's for storing food. It is nowadays more common to keep your clothes, books, TV, cd's or other accessories than old and bulky wardrobes or unsteady shelves. The advantage of the door (compared to the open shelves) is that it doesn't look so messy.

As with the Japanese oshi-ire, these "placards" take all the wall. The main differences is that they are divided in "columns" (vertical separation, maybe 1m wide) have many rows of adjustable shelves, possibly drawers at the bottom, and each compartment has individuals doors. As they are all made on measure by a carpenter, they all vary in size, disposition and design, but in my experience they have nicely designed wooden doors, which contrast a lot with very simple Japanese oshi-ire, which are still often made of plain, white, paper sliding doors. In my house in Tokyo, the oshi-ire doors are the same as those that separate rooms and can even be interchanged.

But there are also "closet" in Europe with sliding doors (maybe "mirror doors", to make the room look bigger :blush: ) and that act only as wardrobes, and could also be used very much in the same fashion as "oshi-ire".

playaa
Apr 22, 2004, 10:58
Nice write up Maciamo, I learned a few things... I definately like the Japanese styled houses better then European, except maybe a few contemporary styled homes. With the futon bed's and couches.

kirei_na_me
Apr 22, 2004, 11:14
larder=pantry?

If so, I have a couple of those in my house. Just a closet with a few shelves used for storing canned or dried foods. Well, anything non-perishable can be stored in them. One I use for storing cleaning products.

I think I prefer the old Western style houses. Heavy insulated walls, heavy doors, high ceilings. Not to mention central heating and central air. I do think it's nice having the toilet and bathtub/shower area separated. I wish ours were like that. I'd also love to have one of those really deeeeeeeep tubs for all the baths I take!

Mandylion
Apr 22, 2004, 11:15
I think one of the greatest crimes in Japan is modern housing. Aside from most of it not looking very good, they are horribly inefficient - drafty in the winter, moist in the summer and mold is a big problem all year round. JIS restricts most modern building supplies and most homes are made largely of plastic and paint. Add on to that the cost due to a protectivist construction industry and very little choice is left for the homeowner to make something they are really comfortable with. It is possible to make central heating and air work in Japanese homes, it is possible to make them much, much more energy efficient - but special builders groups don't want to.

Looking around the older houses that have fallen into disrepair around where I live, the best made part of the house is the roof. Those tiles last for ages!

Maciamo
Apr 22, 2004, 11:33
I think I prefer the old Western style houses. Heavy insulated walls, heavy doors, high ceilings.

Not so fast ! Heavy doors are not so common nowadays, even in old houses.
High ceilings are mostly in not so old houses (19th century) in the cities. Country houses or anything older than 200 years, in Northern Europe, rarely have high ceiling, but at the contrary even lower than in Japan (2m high ?). It also depends on the country. Ceilings tend to be much higher in Southern Europe (Italian Palazzi) because big rooms are cooler in summer. Northern European houses need to be heated in winter, so lower ceiling save on volume and heating cost.


I'd also love to have one of those really deeeeeeeep tubs for all the baths I take!

Why ? Are American tubs different ?

kirei_na_me
Apr 22, 2004, 11:47
The ceilings in my house are 9 or maybe 10 feet/@300 cm tall. My house is older(100 years) and was very well made. The doors are solid wood and thick. You must remember, 'older' to Americans is 100-200 years old. Maybe I should've said older American houses... :p

And I believe Japanese tubs are deeper. Maybe not as long, but they are definitely deeper. My bathtub is about 14 inches/36 cm deep. Aren't Japanese tubs quite a bit deeper than that?

playaa
Apr 22, 2004, 11:50
Yeah, the standard American tubs are quite SMALL! Unless of course you got a Jacuzzi Tub or something of that sort.

kirei_na_me
Apr 22, 2004, 11:53
Yeah, true. I was going to say that. Unless you special order a jacuzzi or some other specialty tub, it won't be very spacious.

playaa
Apr 22, 2004, 12:20
Mine is just long enough for me to sit in and stretch my legs out, once seated it rises about mid-bicep height. I efinately wish our tubs were deeper.

neko_girl22
Apr 22, 2004, 12:54
The baths are deeper, but not always bigger. In apartments where everything is cramped the baths can sometimes be only big enough for one person to sit in . (I stayed in a friends house where this was the case. The bath was square in shape and came up to about my shoulders) I guess modern houses would have larger family sized baths. Luckily for us, in our apartment we can fit two people..... :blush:

I lived in a 150 year old Victorian style house in NZ. The ceilings were very high and some parts of the house were made with stone. and we had a large but shallow bath. I kinda miss that house!

senseiman
Apr 22, 2004, 13:36
I agree with Mandylion's take on this. It is absolutely criminal the way the Japanese homebuyer is effectively held hostage by the cabal of contractors who dominate Japan's homebuilding industry. 99% of the new houses going up today are completely worthless and will have to be knocked down in 20 years because they are so shoddily built that the walls will simply have rotted away in that time. Yet this doesn't stop these companies from charging more than twice the amount their American and European counterparts charge to build these ****-boxes. It really is a crime too, because Japan's traditional architecture is so beatiful, yet it has been almost completely replaced by sterile plastic crap,.

One encouraging trend I've read about though is the increased popularity of buying existing traditional style homes and renovating them to give them all the comforts of a modern home. In most cases this can be done for the same price or significantly less than the cost of building a new home from scratch. And the benefits are significant. The older houses are much more durable than the new ones and can thus be viewed as a long term investment. Plus they are MUCH more attractive, so people can actually enjoy living in them as opposed to simply tolerating living in them.

playaa
Apr 22, 2004, 13:57
Yeah, traditional Japanese homes are my fav, I really like the temples as well. But then again I could always go for a 10th story apartment looking over the shinjuku district of tokyo.

Maciamo
Apr 22, 2004, 14:33
Yeah, traditional Japanese homes are my fav, I really like the temples as well.

You might change mind once you have to live in one. :blush:

Nice traditional houses are few and far between in cities, but there are some nice ones in the remote suburbs (in China, for instance) or in the country. Still, they lack all the comfort of European/Western houses, except for the air conditioning and heated toilet seat.

Mandylion
Apr 22, 2004, 14:42
Yes, living in older buildings take a degree of toughness. I wasn't tryng to say older houses are better in terms of creature comforts, but that newer ones are worse because they fail to address problems or improve the environment of the homeowner (plus all the reasons seneiman listed).

At least if you are an old home freak you have a sense of owning something with charater and history and this might helps you put up with the drafts, mold, insects, etc. You expect old homes to be a bit rough.

neko_girl22
Apr 22, 2004, 15:13
Still, they lack all the comfort of European/Western houses, except for the air conditioning and heated toilet seat.

Dh and I want to move into the country. I love the older style houses in Japan, the only thing that puts me off would be that they all have boton (long drop) toilets. urrgh. That and the huge insects and snakes.....

Ewok85
Apr 22, 2004, 15:26
OMG, the wind in winter in a japanese house, it just goes THROUGH the house. Cmon people, stick some insulation in the walls!

I read an article last year about a Canadian carpenter who was working in japan (and had been for a while) slogging his way through a rather close environment and eventually starting his own business. He would be the kind of person I'd see about getting a house in Japan.

This is a great topic Maciamo. The house im in at the moment is a 40ish mudbrick home in Adelaide, Australia. We have cold wet winters (avg 0-20 celc) and hot dry summers (avg 30-45 celcius).This house is a typical brick, insulation, fibro (plasterboard) construct, attics and basements are rare and we dont have one. We do have some space uner the roof (tiled, though metal corrugated iron sheeting is equally popular and more often used now) in which the air conditioning vents and central heating vents are. Pantries are not common or rare, some people have them some don't.

Bathrooms are an interesting topic though. Like in Japan the toilet and bath/shower are in different rooms over here. I think its the same in Europe but not America. Cant see why you'd want them together anyhow.

Most washing machines here are top-loading, we have the space :D The tumbledryers tend to be front loading though.

Ceilings are higher. Windows are 2 parts, generally half is fixed and the other half can slide behind it. Double glazed helps keep the heat in.

Built in wardrobes are becoming popular now. Similar to what you have in japan only with drawers at the bottom, shelves above. Single long shelf at the top. Maybe a bit of long hanging space. Very very useful (and mirrored doors to make the room look huge! :p)

senseiman
Apr 22, 2004, 19:02
The point people seem to be missing is that old homes are only uncomfortable because few people ever bother to take care of them. By renovating them you can give them all the comforts of a modern home while preserving their traditional appearance and durability. You get the best of both worlds and at the same time save money by not building a worthless new home at inflated prices. I'm hoping that this trend towards ressurecting old homes is going to catch on and become quite mainstream within a few years.

Maciamo
Apr 22, 2004, 19:07
Bathrooms are an interesting topic though. Like in Japan the toilet and bath/shower are in different rooms over here. I think its the same in Europe but not America. Cant see why you'd want them together anyhow.

What I meant was not just that the toilet were in a different room, but that the bathroom itself in Japan is the shower. It's just a big shower with a bath inside. After taking a shower, there is no space left dry on the floor, so you can possibly enter with socks in the bathroom. In Europe, Australia or America, there is a tiled floor with a sink, mirror, some furnitures, with or without toilet, then the shower in a corner with "plastic walls" and a door to avoid water spilling on the floor. If there is no such shower, then it is in the bathtub and there is usually a plastic curtain, also to prevent the water from reaching the bathroom's floor. No such thing exist in Japan. In other words, there are no bathrooms in Japan, just an "ofuro" with a door that gives on a corridor.

NB : In Europe, the toilet is more often than not in the bathroom, but with possibly some additional ones outside too.



Most washing machines here are top-loading, we have the space :D The tumbledryers tend to be front loading though.

Actually I hate those top-loaders and wonder why bossel said they were "hip". IMO, they don't wash well. I have used one in Japan during 2 years and always complained about the white fluffs accumulating on the clothes because they are justly not "tumbled" but stay at the bottom and turn in horizontal circles. They are also less convenient to unload (you have to lean into the machine and pull everything 1m up), and you can't put anything on the top of the machine (like the laundry basket). I had to look for a new front-loading one and it is much better now.

Maciamo
Apr 22, 2004, 19:12
The point people seem to be missing is that old homes are only uncomfortable because few people ever bother to take care of them. By renovating them you can give them all the comforts of a modern home while preserving their traditional appearance and durability.

If that would be true in Western countries for brick or stone houses, it doesn't work that well with wooden traditional Japanese houses, as wood can't be insulated that well (can't imagine double-glazing on a wooden house :okashii: ), and I question how one could install central or floor heating in such a house.

kirei_na_me
Apr 22, 2004, 19:54
In the U.S., most washing machines are top loaders. They've only recently started making a lot of washers front loading. It's just now becoming more popular. I would love to have a front loader instead of a top loading one. Also, I wouldn't like not having a dryer. I hang some things out on the line here, when it's good weather, but as far as towels and sheets, I love having a dryer to make them soft.

I still think having the shower as a room is the best thing ever. Just go in there and shower in a large space and not have to worry about the water because it's tiled and has a drain in the floor! That would just be so great. At my house, we have to worry about the wood trim and wallpaper in the bathrooms getting damp, so we have to have exhaust fans and all that.

Ewok85
Apr 22, 2004, 20:20
I'm with kireina-me, japanese bathrooms are great. You can get in there and just get the water everywhere, and more often than not (ive only showered in 6 different japanese homes) there is a small room outside the bathroom for drying off, changing clothes etc etc. Alot better to use than the all-in-one bathroom we have here, especially when everyone is getting ready in the morning :cool:

jeisan
Apr 22, 2004, 21:22
lots of american houses have central heating and air without a basement or attic. ones without attics use floor vents and the house has a crawl space under it. then some like my old house have a crawl space between the ceiling and the roof. not really an attic as theres beams crossing everywhich way and theres not really a floor to speak of, have to walk on the 2x4s otherwise youll go right through the ceiling. most furnaces i've seen are inside the house, set in a wall somewhere, while air con units are outside or on the roof.

the strangest bathtub/shower setup i've seen was in australia though. I don't think it was common, maybe someone can let me know. heres a picture because i dont know if i could describe it well enough, like your standing there facing the wall its on. also the shower curtain ran on a curved bar in the corner so its only covered half of the bathtub, the shower part.

Maciamo
Apr 22, 2004, 21:45
In the U.S., most washing machines are top loaders. They've only recently started making a lot of washers front loading.

Really ? I had never seen top-loaders before coming to Japan. In Japanese shops 95% are top-loaders and I think front-loaders are also new.



I still think having the shower as a room is the best thing ever. Just go in there and shower in a large space and not have to worry about the water because it's tiled and has a drain in the floor! That would just be so great. At my house, we have to worry about the wood trim and wallpaper in the bathrooms getting damp, so we have to have exhaust fans and all that.

Completely agree. There is also no risk of slipping on the tiled floor when going out of the shower or bath when there is no carpet. There is enough space to dry oneself in the "o-furo room" itself.

The only inconvenience is that Japanese bathroom are far from fancy, usually without window (or just a small one) and no decoration at all. You can't relax in your jacuzzi contemplating the nice bathroom, tiled with beautiful design on the walls, illumated with bright halogen light with pink or orange halo and listenning to classical music, with all the foam and aromatic oils or salts (as Japanese don't usually put anything in the water).

Actualy, I am playing the devil's advocate, as I personally don't like baths. I don't like inactivity get annoyed while waiting it fills up and once I am in, I want to go out after 2min because I am thinking about other things more interesting to do. :relief:

Maciamo
Apr 22, 2004, 21:56
the strangest bathtub/shower setup i've seen was in australia though. I don't think it was common, maybe someone can let me know. heres a picture because i dont know if i could describe it well enough, like your standing there facing the wall its on. also the shower curtain ran on a curved bar in the corner so its only covered half of the bathtub, the shower part.

I remember this disposition of Australian baths. It doesn't strike me as bizarre, except that the toilet is right next to the bath (and sometimes a spider bigger than your hand hangs on the wall too). The Japanese baths I saw had the spout on the width, while those I remember in Europe had it in the middle or side of the length. Australian are maybe the only ones to separate the spout and shower (so as to avoid getting the water from the shower on your face when you intended to turn on the tap for the bath, I guess).

playaa
Apr 23, 2004, 00:05
Sounds to me like, Japanese utilities are more like the U.S. then Europe, as just recently we are seeing side-loader washing machines, ONLY the dryers have always been side loaded. Also our bath's have both the shower and the faucet in the width rather then the length, and the faucet is below the shower (both facing the same way).

jeisan
Apr 23, 2004, 05:10
I remember this disposition of Australian baths. It doesn't strike me as bizarre, except that the toilet is right next to the bath (and sometimes a spider bigger than your hand hangs on the wall too). The Japanese baths I saw had the spout on the width, while those I remember in Europe had it in the middle or side of the length. Australian are maybe the only ones to separate the spout and shower (so as to avoid getting the water from the shower on your face when you intended to turn on the tap for the bath, I guess).

yeah i had that spider in my towel once, started drying off and he feel out of it and landed at my feet. creepy, checked my towel for spiders weeks after that.
to me, splitting the spout and the shower like that seems a waste of plumbing in time and material. and it feels confined, only having that small bit to shower in. i dunno about having the spout in the center of the length either, i'd think people would hit it sitting down or standing up from a bath, at least im sure i would. :D

playaa
Apr 23, 2004, 06:48
LOL Well, the only time I have seen the spout in the length of the tub, is on the "Jacuzzi" tubs over here..

bossel
Apr 23, 2004, 09:48
Actually I hate those top-loaders and wonder why bossel said they were "hip". IMO, they don't wash well. I have used one in Japan during 2 years and always complained about the white fluffs accumulating on the clothes because they are justly not "tumbled" but stay at the bottom and turn in horizontal circles. They are also less convenient to unload (you have to lean into the machine and pull everything 1m up), and you can't put anything on the top of the machine (like the laundry basket). I had to look for a new front-loading one and it is much better now.
Hip as in trendy. I don't see any other reason why people would buy this stuff. As you pointed out, they're pretty impractical. (not as impractical as washing by hand, though, as I have to do at the moment)

senseiman
Apr 23, 2004, 12:01
If that would be true in Western countries for brick or stone houses, it doesn't work that well with wooden traditional Japanese houses, as wood can't be insulated that well (can't imagine double-glazing on a wooden house :okashii: ), and I question how one could install central or floor heating in such a house.

I'm not sure about the technical aspects of it, but I read an article in the Japan Times a few months ago that said it was possible. There is even a magazine (in Japanese) devoted to the subject, the places look absolutely remarkable. Its not just minor tinkering with the inside we are talking about here, they essentially tear the place down and then completely rebuild it. As it is, most of the ****** new places going up these days actually do have wood frames, so it must be possible.

LynnieS
Apr 23, 2004, 14:57
the strangest bathtub/shower setup i've seen was in australia though. I don't think it was common, maybe someone can let me know. heres a picture because i dont know if i could describe it well enough, like your standing there facing the wall its on. also the shower curtain ran on a curved bar in the corner so its only covered half of the bathtub, the shower part.

This set-up sounds familiar. I had to work in London for a few months awhile back, and the apartment that was rented for me came with this set-up. Luckily, the water pressure wasn't too great - and did I miss that! - so water didn't get everywhere in the bathroom.

As for the conditions of the houses, no personal experience as to home ownership. A colleague of mine mentioned that he wants to buy a place of his own for his family, but he doesn't want to spend the money and end up with a run-down place that's falling apart after some odd years later. Renting isn't much better, IMHO, but at least you don't have to get rid of the place yourself.

mdchachi
Apr 23, 2004, 23:12
Really ? I had never seen top-loaders before coming to Japan. In Japanese shops 95% are top-loaders and I think front-loaders are also new.

Yes, in the U.S. top loaders are the most common. Front loaders tend to be used in commercial establishments because they are more efficient, can hold more laundry and are gentler on clothes. But they are more expensive to purchase. Drawbacks are that it is more difficult to add clothes in mid-cycle. And you can't let clothes soak for a while as you can in top-loaders.

mdchachi
Apr 23, 2004, 23:27
Nobody's talked about bathrooms in SE Asia yet. In countries that don't have a tradition of submerged bathing (bathtubs) they seem to simply add a shower to the room with the toilet/sink, often with no shower curtain. So everything gets wet including the toilet. Yuck. I haven't been to that many places in SE Asia but it was common in Thailand and India. Flip-flops (beach/bathroom sandals) are highly recommended.

yimija
Apr 28, 2004, 14:09
LOL :D
I'd like to see you all live for a month in a yurt ! You'll love it ! No more problems of cold feet on the ceramics in the morning (or evening).

No more problems with the bathroom being in the same place as the toilets.
And no more problems with front loading or top loading washing machine !

Central heating is really central and ceiling is the sky, just two paces out of the living room !

Just jump on your horse and go there. I'll come along any time !!!

I really love you all, in this Forum. I have seen many of them so called forums, and believe me, this one is the best, with lots of cultivated, intelligent, respectfull people. and that's a nice change. I'll stick around a little bit, if you allow me to !

kirei_na_me : you have a beautiful left eye !!!!

kov
Apr 28, 2004, 22:54
I still think having the shower as a room is the best thing ever. Just go in there and shower in a large space and not have to worry about the water because it's tiled and has a drain in the floor! That would just be so great. At my house, we have to worry about the wood trim and wallpaper in the bathrooms getting damp, so we have to have exhaust fans and all that.

While I like the japanese bath-room-as-shower concept and enjoy it as a visitor, it's a lot more area to have to scrub than just the western bathtub.

kov
Apr 28, 2004, 23:03
Dh and I want to move into the country. I love the older style houses in Japan, the only thing that puts me off would be that they all have boton (long drop) toilets. urrgh. That and the huge insects and snakes.....

I have 2 takes on this; my wife's family is from wa-a-a-ay out in the northern countryside. And man, it gets COLD there without central heating and the bath? All that tile/ceramic gets so bloody cold you don't want to stand on it for more than a second -- the whole bathing experience in winter is a test of character. The drop-toilet isn't too bad (of course, I've never had to empty one), but it was terrifying for my 3-year old. Also, my back gets pretty sore with the whole sitting on the floor thing, and I find I crave chairs and sofas after a week.

OTOH, wife's best friend is the town's shrinemaster, so she lives in an unspeakably beautiful (but simple) old, traditional house on the grounds of the shrine. They also kept their house comfortably warm, so perhaps it depends on the family's disposition towards shelling out for comfort.

RockLee
Apr 29, 2004, 00:05
can anyone post some pictures of A japanese bathroom ? I'm dying to see how it looks...and how do the japanese people take a bath?..I've heard they soap themselves outside the bath...and when they are clean they go in....is this true?....thank a lot !!! :wave:

mdchachi
Apr 29, 2004, 03:49
Yes, it's true. Japanese people usually take a sit-down shower and get all clean before taking a soak in the bathtub. If there is no shower, there is a spigot which is used to fill a small bucket from which water can be poured on the body. Most places have both. Sometimes the shower head can be moved such that you can stand, sometimes not.

This is a fairly typical modern-day bathroom http://www.kanapure.net/atugi/silver/furoba.html except it has been slightly remodelled for elderly people (added handrails).

Basically, the bathroom is just a completely waterproof room with a (deep) bathtub and shower. In modern households, the bath tub usually has a built-in water heater and circulator so that water can be kept warm and reused for a couple days. Notice the rolled up cover at the end of the tub in the picture. When not in use, the cover will be rolled over the tub to keep the water warm and to keep stuff (soap, etc.) from getting in.

In case that link stops working, try searching for similar images with http://images.google.com/images?q=furoba&num=100

RockLee
Apr 29, 2004, 04:17
Arigato gozaimasu mdchachi....Ok now I understand...totaly different from Europe :souka:.....it's going to be an adaptation I guess :)

Anguz
May 10, 2004, 14:23
What a great topic!

I'm from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and am living in a colonial town named Taxco, in Mexico. My father is an architect and I've always been interested in construction, so this topic is very attractive to me. (^_^)

The city where I was born is very european in style. This town is colonial, but not so much anymore. It's been changed a lot by ignorant and stupid people. Also, Mexico in general tends to imitate America a lot in several ways, including building, with the added latin touch.

By latin touch I'm not just talking decoration, but also badly done in many cases, starting with planning. Of course, this is by no means true all the time, but has been in the apartments I've lived in so far (;_;)

On the other hand, old colonial houses are very nice, even if not well distributed and with their mistakes. You can usually forgive those, the house is often cute. Sadly, many are being remodeled -and totally screwed up- by the sons of their original owners when they inherit them, or by the guy buying it for the land, not the house.

I was planning to go live in Hokkaido, since I love Japan and cold weather, in an old japanese house, until my wife changed her mind. She wasn't very sure since we don't talk japanese yet, although we both are good with languages. So a year later, since I'm still here, I might just build my own house. (~_~)

I'm planning ot build it in a colonial way, with some japanese touches. Specially the way the bathroom is and also the not walking with shoes inside the house, which btw is something you didn't mention, probably because you're so used to it by now.

I find the japanese way of bath particularly attractive and will build my own that way. There aren't deep tubs here either, but I can build one with bricks. What I don't know how to do is the water heating to keep it hot. Could someone over there tell me how the piping is done or how the ones sold are build so I can reproduce it? (^^;)

The way wood is used in almost any other place in the world is nice, sadly not common here. When you go buy wood, the one you'll find is still humid and not treated. The treated wood, or old enough so it's dry, is hard to find, at least where I am. Japanese, from what I understand, either have treated wood, or let it rest in a lake for years and then some more outside, until it's ready for use.

Here you can see furniture, door and window frames, and other wooden things, all twisted and/or cracked after a while. Some people have them repaired after a few years. When the repair is done with the same wood, it's fine, but often they add new wood that'll end up the same. Stupid... (-_-)

Doors here, the old ones are thick and heavy and nice, the newer ones are either triplay, empty, things, or are made of metal, like iron. The iron ones are a frame, with an extra support in the middle, and covered with a sheet painted black of course "to make them look colonial"... ba~ka. I've been told reasons, but I still can't understand how they became popular or why some more silly people even use them indoors now (><;)

I find the paper japanese doors very attractive, although I don't know if I could list all the advantages or disadvantages they have. On one hand, you can probably fix them easily putting new paper, on the other they probably need fixing more often. I don't think they insulate much, either cold, heat or sound. I don't like lack of privace, so I most probably won't have those in my house here, but could stand them in Japan.

The traditional roofing here is tiles, but now they're building some houses without them, which I don't like, because it doesn't follow the colonial look the town should preserve. those that do the tiling, don't do it the old way though, they put a cement roof and the tiles on top, which could probably be done to look right, but they can't bother with that (_)

I find the tiled roofs in japanese houses very beautiful, specially in old houses. Those tiles do look like they can last for a long time. The ones here do last, but break easily and need repairing. Here the tiles are the U shaped ones and need to be alternately put face-up, face-down, etc, where the japanese ones, from what I can see, are S shaped and are placed one next to the other, like ~~~ with the borders overlapping.

Then there's neighbours, but that would be a WHOLE separate chapter... don't even want to get started on that one (--#)

Floors here are rarely made of wood, or covered with it. In Buenos Aires it wasn't strange to find houses with parket, or some wooden flooring, but here it's very un-common and if found, it's not pretty, sadly, at least not the ones I saw. Depending on the owner, the floor varies a lot (one of the apartments Il lived in was whole done with bathroom tiles, the slippery ugly kind, ugh).

I Japan it's either wood or tatami, from what I've seen, looking nice and practical. I understand that they can be very cold in winter though, but then there's slippers and cushions hehe. I also read that newer places are replacing normal wood on floors, with a very thin sheet of treated and hardened wood, which is placed on the concrete.

About walls, I don't like them thin either. I'm planning to build mine with adobe and color them in Photoshop... hehe, sorry, couldn't resist it. Color them with lime, the old way. Depending on how much land I can afford, I'll build them extremely thick, or just very thick. Since adobe is free if I make it, the cost is not an issue, only the space. It's very insulating too.

Many cheap apartment buildings here are built in a similar way some japanese ones are, from what I've read, and the sound insulation is not very good in these, so probably not good in those either. You just talked about temperature insuation, but with the neighbours you get here, you need the sound one too. This is probably not the same issue in Japan, although big cities have noise of their own despite the well-manered neighbours.

Closets, hmm, I'm used to the plackards too, they're used in Buenos Aires. They're not that common here. depending on the house, it goes from just furniture (which can be colonial or modern, well or bad made, pretty or ugly -more often it's modern, bad made and ugly-) to a metal bar where you hang the clothes from, just in a corner of the room, sometimes with a top made of cement to put stuff on, and you can also put stuff on the floor, of course. I like the japanese closets better, or whatever the name I can't remember, because they're so spacious.

The bathroom/toilets are another topic I rather not cover right now (--;)

Sorry for the long post! Sorry I couldn't comment more on the European houses, mainly because you said most of it. I thought some of you might find it interesting to know how it compares to some of the ones I've seen here. I'm sorry if I said too many ugly things, it's just that I've seen so many, but it doesn't mean there's well made houses or apartments. You can find them in all they ways they can be made, I just find it very intersting to comment on the extremes, specially if a big average is on it.

wintersweet
Oct 3, 2004, 14:32
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and despite *extremely* limited space, we don't have basements. I think it might be because of earthquakes.

mamapad
Oct 4, 2004, 20:18
http://www.wa-pedia.com so cool

Meiki
Apr 11, 2005, 04:07
what north-western european house? I live in Holland and the houses here are very different from Englands, for example. There's no shared architecture. There is no european architecture. I like British, French and Italian style-houses with their own typical styles. The houses in Holland are quite boring and sometimes ugly.

Saying that there is a european house is like saying there's such a thing as an asian house, which isn't. Chinese houses are different from the Japanese.

TuskCracker
Apr 11, 2005, 04:46
.
Finally something interesting, instead of whining that the place is different (of course its different, i hope it is).

Maciamo
Apr 11, 2005, 13:33
what north-western european house? I live in Holland and the houses here are very different from Englands, for example. There's no shared architecture. There is no european architecture. I like British, French and Italian style-houses with their own typical styles.

I know how houses are in the Benelux, UK, Germany, France, Italy or Spain.

This thread is not about architecture but about quality/materials of construction and functionalities. European houses are normally built in brick or stone, while Japanese houses are almost all built in wood and concrete.

A majority of European houses now have central heating, insulation in the roof and walls, and almost all of them have a cellar and attic/loft. Japanese houses usually don't. Japanese houses have a lot of sliding doors and windows, while European houses are almost always hinge-type. Then almost all Japanese houses have air conditioning, while it is rare in Europe, even in the South. Did you even care reading the article ?


The houses in Holland are quite boring and sometimes ugly.

I know what Dutch houses look like. I have been many times to the Netherlands, and it's similar to Belgium (especially Flanders). Mostly brick. If you think that Dutch houses are ugly, then you mustn't have been to Japan or other Asian countries.

Kara_Nari
Sep 27, 2005, 17:21
Hmm, just finished reading through all of these!
Ok, I will give you the rundown on our family home, which is not necessarily atypical of all/most homes in NZ.
We have a one storied house, no attic, no basement/cellar.
There are four bedrooms all with built in wardrobes with sliding doors. The wardrobes are pretty much the length of one wall. Maybe a meter width-wise, with shelves on both ends, and plenty of hanging space in the middle, and a shelf maybe 1.5m from the ceiling.
Our house is all wooden inside, we have a large cupboard for cleaning stuff such as the vaccuum, mops etc. There is separate toilet, and bathroom, then in the master room there is an ensuite.
There is another cupboard with the hot water cylinder inside, and in this cupboard is shelving to dry clothes that are not quite dry, also there is the 'christmas present cupboard' above this one, which you need a step ladder to get to.
Then there is a cupboard for linen.
We have a separate laundry room with the large chest freezer, top loading washing machine, front loading tumble drier and a large tub for handwashing, with a cupboard underneath.
The kitchen is fairly large, with lots and lots of storage everywhere, average sized fridge, and a two level pantry.
In the office there is the computer desk then there are two doors that open up for Dads stuff, and another two doors that you open up for the sewing desk.
The lounge room is fairly large also.
My mother hates clutter so when she designed this house, she ensured that there was more than adequate space for storage... hehehe but she hasnt gotten my last 8 years of stuff yet.

nurizeko
Sep 27, 2005, 17:40
British houses used to be made of wicker walls with a mix of mud and sh** slapped on, and a hay roof or something like that. :p

Weve definately come a long way since then.

I live in scotland so we dont have the luxury of wooden homes, its generally better off to build out of stone and insulate the walls, our winters arnt exactly artic but their pretty damn close (so close actually it never really gets really dark in summer at night).

I wouldnt mind a japanese house if i lived in the tropics or a part of the world thats always hot, since tis stylish and technically should help towards keeping the home cool?.

Actually scrub that, a heavy stone built house would probably feel cool like a cave in those climbs then a wooden house.

You know, i cant think of any real reason for wooden houses rather then lack of stone, lack of knowledge of how to build with stone, and the fact that japan is a tsunami-earthquake zone so, maybe wooden buildings survive a bit better, and are easier to build.

Still, the fires i can emagine would be a nightmare in a wooden city.

Tokis-Phoenix
Sep 27, 2005, 23:34
I live in England and my mum lives in a very old traditonal large farm house although its been many years since i moved out of home and got my own, this is what her house is like roughly;

a. The house is over 600yrs old and is in wiltshire and is mainly made out of brick and a bit of flint and whatever else they use to stick it together, i forget its name. Houses made completely out of stone are very rare in wiltshire because of the cost to build them, only the very oldest are made out of flint as its generally the local stone around here.
b. The house has 3 storeys including a large loft and large cellar. It has about 8 bedrooms, 1 large kitchen, 5 sitting/living/dining rooms, a large entrance/2nd kitchen room, large pantry room(like the type you can walk around in and not jus a cuboard), 4 bathrooms including an outside toilet and 3 boiler rooms and 3 entrances to the house- one in full use, the second in partial use and the 3rd is not used at all. It also has a summer room- an attached room wilh walls made out of glass, a bit like a greenhouse in some respects.
c. The outdoor buildings consist of a very large garage(space for 3 cars) with 3 spare rooms with windows, it has a very large garden shed which used to be a forge for making metal objects and before that a diary cow shed at some point. It also has 2 green houses, one of which is very large and it also has an office for the farm and a large storage room.
d. It has 4 large main gardens and extensive large vegetable garden and little orchard area with apple, pear and plum trees. it has numerous stables, a chicken house and paddocks surrounding the garden and a dog pen with large run.
e. The house has too many fireplaces to mention, most of which are shut off- because the house is medievil, it was traditional in the medievil times to have a fireplace in every room and usually 2 in the kitchen-all these fireplaces would have been cleared out and then lit again on a daily basis. One fireplace we discovered in the kitchen was made out of stone and measured over 10ft across.
There are also too many wells to mention, we keep on finding them, i think we have found 15+ so far!
f. The house is so big mainly because it is a medievil farm house and back then it would have to house the entire family, the servants, have guest rooms, rooms for storing and processing dairy products, a childs play room, rooms for entertaining and the kitchen would be the centre of the household where food would have to be cooked for everyone and also prepare food for market. Most of the servants rooms/quarters were shut off and converted into the loft so i guess the house is realy at least 4 storeys- it also used to have a 3rd kitchen/bedroom area that was knocked down a while back after to going into disrepair some 60yrs ago. There was also another servants quarters part that used to be a garage but was very ancient so much so it was still made out of wattle and daub and we had to knock it down some years ago because the wattle and daub was falling to peices after 700yrs with little repair.
The gardens would have had to grow almost all the food for the family so only a small part of it in comparsion would be left as ornemental and not practical garden.
g. and thats not going into all the cottages on the farm that would have once been housing for the shepards and farm workers there, there are also too many barns and other sorts of housing to list.
Back in the old days barns used to be completely made out of wood, but obviously this is very impractical now days due to been prone to becomming a pile of ash after fires and the costs of keeping dry/damp rot and wordworm away although we did still have some wooden barns a little while ago but we sold them as they were of little use to us due to how unpractical they were. We also have some reealy ancient large red brick horse stables but they are being converted into decent appartments as they have little use and it costs alot to maintain them- as much of the main structures will be kept as posible so they are preserved in a sense.
h. All the floors in the main house are made out of wood although it seems most modern houses built today have concrete as the base floor instead of wood unlike my mums house. The tiles on the house and other old buildings on the farm all have red brick rectangle tiles although the forge/garden shed has slate, which is becomming expensive today to roof houses with from what i gather.
All the floors in the house are carpeted and many have rugs on top of the carpetting as it gets very cold in the area my mum lives in during the spring, autum and winter- summer is realy the only warm relief we get, heh.
Almost all the windows have double glazing even though its not traditional, its just too cold over here not to have it in all the vital rooms although we still have some realy traditional glass panes- like the lead framed diamond glass shaped ones.
All the doors are made out of heavy wood and most of the rooms in the house still have the traditonal white wash covering them instead of modern paint- it can be dusty but rooms don't build up condensation in them as the white wash lets the moisture out unlike modern paints, which is important where my mum lives as the area can flood alot in the area(although we have never been flooded, the area is still damp).

Phew :relief: ! i think there is still more to write but thats all i can remember for now :blush: .
I thought you guys would be interested in this since we are talking about traditional and modern houses, my mums house is about as traditional as you can get in this day and age in england. I would be interested in what pre-victorian (or pre meiji(sp?) period ones)age japanese house are like and how they were built or what sorts of uses they were put to depending on what the family did as a living :) .

Maciamo
Sep 29, 2005, 20:16
I wouldnt mind a japanese house if i lived in the tropics or a part of the world thats always hot, since tis stylish and technically should help towards keeping the home cool?.

Okinawa may be tropical, but most of Japan has cold winters with snow and frost. In Hokkaido it is as cold as the Scottish Highlands (i.e. -20 degree is not unusual).

Secondly, your image of stylish Japanese houses is probably inherited from pictures you saw in travel magazines or guide books - basically temples or pavillions built several centuries ago and not inhabited by anyone nowadays. When talking about wooden Japanese houses, it is closer to that in average :

http://www.wa-pedia.com/gallery/data/512/thumbs/PICT0168.JPG

Some have corrugated iron to hide the wood :

http://www.wa-pedia.com/gallery/data/512/thumbs/PICT0176.JPG

No, these pictures were not taken in Bangkok but in central Tokyo near where I live. The newer houses (i.e. those that actually look like houses) are almost covered by concrete. They are either flat-roofed with "toilet tiles covering the outside walls, or built in Western style (similar to the US or Australia) with painted walls. Maybe you want to have a look at the Photo Gallery (http://www.wa-pedia.com/gallery/showgallery.php/cat/551).

Btw, wooden houses are not cool at all in summer. The one where I live is mostly wooden and it's extremely hot and humid during all summer without air conditioning (basically sweat drops immediately come running along my face as soon as I enter the house if there is no air-con). In winter it is so cold that I got frost bites at my feet at night, or during the day from staying in front of the PC (even with air conditioning !). The funny thing is that it doesn't really freeze in winter in Tokyo (around 0'C on a cold day).

Maciamo
Dec 16, 2006, 01:53
One of the headlines on the TV news in Belgium today was that the central heating of a university campus was not working and that the poor students had to live in terrible conditions, only 15'C (while the ideal temperature should be betwen 20'C and 25'C). I wish them never to go to Japan. Even in subtropical Tokyo, the normal temperatures inside houses can drop close to 0'C in winter. It is as unthinkable for most Belgians as it was for me that a house could be cold enough to see your breath or have frost bites. This is one of the things that makes me feel that Japan is still a developing country.

nurizeko
Dec 16, 2006, 04:03
In my house I can waltz around in boxer shorts and a vest in the depths of snow drifting winter.

In Japan I'm warmest in doors in full outdoor winter dress. :blush:

So I agree for the most part Mac, though to be fair when I was there most houses looked fairly modern, if still looking flimsy. Infact most houses looked more flimsy then that corregated iron covered deal. :p

Erekose
Dec 16, 2006, 04:20
Keep in mind that the wooden and corrugated steel houses you see are likely post-war dwellings. Laws have changed such that if the owner were to rebuild, they would have to sacrifice tremendous square footage; hence most never rebuild.
Some houses even in the Tokyo area have central heating, though it is expensive. One of my wife's friends is an actress/model and her father is a very famous Japanese actor; their house of course has central heating.
My wife's home in Kamakura, despite being completely custom designed and costing hideous amounts of money does not have central heating, but rather multiple gas heaters and this has proven sufficient.