How Big Are Japanese Houses? 6 Examples

The Japanese are known for living in small houses. Due to the country’s large population and limited availability of land, Japanese houses are known for being small, unlike houses in the United States and other Western countries.

In this article, we will be taking a closer look at how big Japanese houses are, on average, in different cities.

We will also discuss why these houses are typically smaller and if it’s really a preference of the people here. Let’s get to it!

Here’s How Big Japanese Houses Are:

On average, Japanese houses have an area of 1,127 square feet or around 105 square meters. Japanese houses are typically smaller compared to those in many Western countries, but the size may still vary depending on the location and the occupants’ lifestyle preferences and budget.

Traditional Japanese building

Here are the average house sizes in different cities in Japan

1. Tokyo

Tokyo is the capital city of Japan and it is notorious for its large population.

In Tokyo, the average size of houses is around 1,000 square feet or 93 square meters, which is smaller than the average house size in Japan.

Even though this is the average house size, there’s still a lot of variation. In some areas of the prefecture (similar to a municipality), you may find houses as big as 2,000 and 3,000 square feet, and in some areas, you may find houses smaller than 1,000 square feet.

It’s important to note that since Tokyo is an urban area, apartments are the most common type of dwellings. The average size of apartment units in Tokyo is just around 720 square feet or 67 square meters.

2. Yokohama

Second to Tokyo in terms of population and located just beside it is Yokohama.

The average house size in Yokohama is 1,079 square feet or around 100 square meters, which is just slightly smaller than the country’s average.

As a suburban area, Yokohama has a mix of detached houses and apartment buildings, although you may find that there’s more of the latter due to the limited availability of land.

3. Osaka

Osaka is the third city in Japan with the highest population.

In Osaka, the average house size is around 1,039 square feet or around 97 square meters. The houses here are just a bit bigger compared to the houses in Tokyo.

Apartments are also more common in Osaka than detached houses, especially in densely populated urban areas. The average size of an apartment in Osaka is around 705 square feet, which is considered quite small.

4. Nagoya

Nagoya is another urbanized area in Japan with a high population and limited land.

On average, houses in Nagoya measure around 1,100 square feet or 102 square meters. It is smaller than the country’s average but still slightly bigger compared to the houses in other cities like Tokyo and Osaka.

5. Kyoto

With both suburban and rural areas, Kyoto is not as densely populated as other Japanese cities, which means that houses here are slightly bigger.

The average house size in Kyoto is 1,184 square feet or around 110 square meters which is bigger than the country’s average.

Compared to other Japanese cities, there are more detached houses in Kyoto than in other cities. It also has a good mix of traditional and modern houses.

Traditional Japanese houses here can measure between 54o and 1610 square feet while modern-style houses here can measure 750 and 2,150 square feet.

6. Fukuoka

This city has both urban and suburban areas but with slightly bigger houses compared to other cities.

In Fukuoka, the average house size is similar to that of Kyoto which is 1,184 square feet or around 110 square meters. But this only applies to newer houses.

Surprisingly, older Japanese houses in Fukuoka are much smaller. Some older apartments can even be as small as 300 square feet, which can already be considered as a micro-apartment.

Why Are Japanese Houses Typically Smaller?

Japan isn’t exactly a small country in terms of total land area so you may be wondering why Japanese houses are typically smaller compared to houses in Western countries.

Here are some reasons:

There is limited space

Even though Japan is not  very small country in terms of land area, it still has limited available land for residential development. This is because Japan is a mountainous country and only less than 20% of its total land is flat and suitable for development.

Because of this, there’s a high demand for housing everywhere particularly in urban areas where many Japanese have migrated to look for better employment opportunities.

In fact, 90% of the population lives in urban areas such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, where there are more jobs and higher salaries.

With a high demand for housing and limited land availability, people have made their houses smaller to fit in smaller plots of land.

The cost of building a house is high

In general, it can be quite costly to build a house in Japan. This is because land and construction costs are expensive, especially in urban areas.

Because of this, people built smaller houses to spend less. They’ve found that building smaller houses is a more economical and practical choice compared to building large and elaborate homes.

It is a cultural choice.

The Japanese culture places a strong emphasis on minimalism and simplicity, and you may find this reflected in the design of many Japanese homes.

When it comes to building their homes, the Japanese prioritize practicality and functionality over size and grandeur. For them, living in a smaller house makes it more efficient. A smaller house with the basic amenities is all that they need, plus it is easier to maintain and clean.

The Japanese culture also has a concept called “mottainai” which means “not being wasteful.”

This concept encourages people to live within their means and avoid being excessive at anything. This is why people here tend to live in smaller and simpler houses rather than big, luxurious ones.

Living in a small house fosters strong familial bonds

Another important aspect of the Japanese culture is family.

The concept of family in Japan goes beyond just the basic structure of parents and children. Families in Japan often include their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It’s part of their culture to spend time with their family and foster strong bonds.

In Japan, family ties are considered to be very strong and most holidays and social gatherings are focused on family.

This aspect of the Japanese culture is another reason why their houses tend to be smaller.

Families in Japan prioritize closeness and togetherness, and living in a smaller living house can encourage this closeness because family members may need to share rooms or common spaces.

Small houses are generally safer during earthquakes

Located in a seismically active region, Japan is prone to earthquakes and tsunamis. In fact, some of the world’s strongest and most destructive earthquakes happened in Japan.

This is another reason why Japanese houses are smaller.

Building a smaller house using lighter and more practical materials can help reduce the risk of structural damage when earthquakes happen. This makes smaller homes a safer housing choice.

Even though Japanese houses are smaller, their designs are often well thought out to maximize space and functionality, while creating a comfortable environment suitable for living.

Please also check out our article: Space-Saving 100 Years Ago | 17 Weird Ideas (That Failed!)

Do Japanese Prefer To Live In Small Spaces?

As mentioned previously in this article, the Japanese culture highly values minimalism and simplicity, so to answer this question – yes, we could say that many Japanese people prefer to live in smaller spaces.

Japan has a culture of not being wasteful. This is why many of their people live simplistic lives, and this is often reflected in their homes. Japanese houses are smaller and simpler, and they’re designed to be functional and practical rather than luxurious.

In addition, the Japanese culture places a lot of importance on familial bonds which is also why Japanese people prefer to live in small spaces.

Living in a small house encourages them to spend time and bond with their family since the small space may require them to share rooms or common areas.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone. Not everyone in Japan prefers to live in small spaces and you may find some Japanese people living in large and extravagant homes.

After all, the size of the house can highly depend on personal preference and budget.


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