You’ve heard many people say, “The bigger, the better.” But is this really the case for everything? Say, for example, do all the happiest homeowners live in the big modern houses? For Emma, living in a small home has been a blissful time.
Japan’s high population and limited space made the cost of living in the country very high. Homes in Tokyo have an average of 65.9 square meters, which often consists of a bedroom, a kitchen, a lounge, and a dining area.
But even for a person who can afford the luxury of a 65.9 square meter home, the sheer price forces most people to live in even smaller rooms or apartments. Emma’s house is only 8 square meters (82 square feet). When you stretch your arms in her apartment, you can touch both the walls easily.
Emma spent a long time looking for apartments, but her current home stood out from the rest because of its two levels. “A lot of places are just like, the bed is right next to the bathroom and the kitchen, and you like, eat next to your bed. And it just felt a bit wrong,” Emma explained.
Emma’s home has two levels. Her living area is separate from her sleeping quarters. Although Japanese homes are typically small, Emma’s apartment is still a bit different. Although Emma’s home lacked in width, it compensated with its height. “I can actually finally stretch in at least one direction. I think without this extra space, it would feel a bit—maybe a bit too cramped, but it feels good,” said Emma.
Before entering Emma’s home, you must take your shoes off in the ‘Genkan.’ Even foreign renters or visitors must observe Japanese standards of home etiquette. Emma’s wardrobe is not very far from the entrance and the shoe cupboard.
A bit further is where Emma put her microwave and toaster on top of a wooden cabinet for her kitchen utensils, cups, cutlery, and silverware. She had to put sticky pads on her toaster’s foot, preventing it from moving during an earthquake.
Emma spends most of her time in her home office. It consists of a small table, a swivel chair, and a laptop where she edits her videos and answers her mail. She loves how her workstation lets her look at the window and balcony.
You can see plenty of potted plants on Emma’s table and a few ones lying around on some corners. “If there’s no living things, If I can’t see the outside world, things just feel really stale, and that’s when this space can feel a little bit small.”
Emma pays ¥69,000 (US$600) per month for her apartment, including Wi-Fi and utilities. It was a challenge for Emma to turn the small apartment into a personal space where she feels at peace and comfortable. She kept trying different ways, such as adding objects, plants, and rearranging the furniture to make the home her own. But upon seeing how her living space turned out, Emma felt rewarded.
Like most apartments in Japan, Emma’s had a sink and no cutting space. She bought a big cutting board to remedy the lack of counter-tops. She also keeps more potted succulent plants in her balcony.
Emma’s bathroom is a bit peculiar than what we’re used to. “When I first moved here, I was like, ‘Where’s the toilet?’ I thought there might be a public toilet somewhere. I thought I’d been messed over by the company…”
It took a while before she realized that the toilet was hidden. You need to pull the sink away to access the toilet. Everything in the bathroom is within Emma’s reach from the medicine cabinet, sink, and the compartments where she stores her toiletries.
Despite the apartment’s small dimensions, the loft upstairs still has enough head-space for Emma. At first, she was scared that it would feel like she’s inside a coffin. After spending a few nights, she felt comfortable in her loft without any complaint.
“What animal sleeps out in the open? I feel that animals always go to a cave, or they just try to get into a corner or something… I think a lot of humans like to feel like they are in a tight, nice, cozy space.”
People in big modern houses often get plenty of things in their homes. They want one thing after the other, never feeling satisfied with what they have. Emma has found a small living space that became her sanctuary while staying in Japan.
Her tiny apartment keeps her creative and conscious of what objects she wants to remain in her life. Indeed, she has found gem in the middle of Tokyo’s hustle and bustle.
Give yourself a virtual tour by watching the video below:
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