Housing website for Japan


Residential property listings in central


Lifestyles in Japan changed dramatically after World War II, when large numbers of people moved from the countryside to the cities to make their livings as office …


Traditional Japanese houses are built by erecting wooden columns on top of a flat foundation made of packed earth or stones. Wooden houses exist all over the …


A living and dining room with six-metre high ceilings sits at the centre of this small white house in Japan by architects Shinichi Ogawa & Associates (+ slideshow) …


A living and dining room with six-metre high ceilings sits at the centre of this small white house in Japan by architects Shinichi Ogawa & Associates (+ slideshow) …

Housing in Japan includes modern and traditional styles. Two patterns of residences are predominant in contemporary Japan: the single-family detached house and the multiple-unit building, either owned by an individual or corporation and rented as apartments to tenants, or owned by occupants. Additional kinds of housing, especially for unmarried people, include boarding houses (which are popular among college students), dormitories (common in companies), and barracks (for members of the Self-Defense Forces, police and some other public employees).

An unusual feature of Japanese housing is that houses are presumed to have a limited lifespan, and are generally torn down and rebuilt after a few decades, generally twenty years for wooden buildings and thirty years for concrete buildings – see regulations for details.

Figures from the 2003 Housing and Land Survey conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications indicate that Japan had 53,890,900 housing units at the time. Of these, 46,862,900 (86.9%) were occupied and 7,027,900 (13.0%) unoccupied. Of the occupied units, 28,665,900 (61.2%) were owned by the resident household. The average number of rooms per unit of housing was 4.77, the average total floor area in was 94.85 square meters (28.69 tsubo; 1,021.0 sq ft) and the average number of people per room was 0.56.[1] 45,258,000 units (96.6%) were used exclusively for living and 1,605,000 units (3.4%) were used both for living and commercial purposes. Of the units used exclusively for living, 10,893,000 (24.1%) were equipped with an automatic smoke detector. As of 2003, 17,180,000 housing units (36.7%) are classified by the Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication as being located in urban areas while 27,553,000 housing units (58.8%) are located in rural areas.[2]

As in America, most Japanese live in single-family housing.[3] During the postwar period, the number of multi-unit dwellings in Japan increased rapidly, although single-family housing remained the dominant housing type, albeit a declining number. In 1990, for instance, 60% of Japanese dwellings consisted of single-family homes, compared with 77% in 1958.[4] Two years earlier, in 1988, 62.3% of the total housing units in Japan were single-family units and 37.7% were multiple-unit dwellings.[5] That same year, a survey carried out by the Japanese economic planning agency showed that 62.3 per cent of the Japanese population owned a detached two-storeyed house.[6]

In the 1980s, a new home in Japan cost 5-8 times the annual income of the average Japanese, and 2-3 times that of an average American.[7] The typical loan term for Japanese homes was 20 years, with a 35% down payment, while in the United States it was 30 years and 25%, due to differing practices in their financial markets.

A survey conducted by the Management and Coordination Agency in 1983 found that there 34.75 million occupied dwellings in Japan, of which 46.1% were built of timber, 31.3% of fireproof timber, and 22.6% of ferroconcrete or other nontimber materials. Te same survey found that detached housing accounted for 64.3% off all housing in Japan, with the ratio falling in urban areas. In the 23 wards of Tokyo, for instance, multi-unit structures such as apartment houses accounted for 62.5% of all housing in those wards. In terms of tenure, 62.4% of housing in Japan consisted of owner-occupied dwellings, 24.3% of units leased by the private sector, 7.6% of units leased by the public sector, and 5.2% of housing for government workers and company employees.[8]

According to a housing survey carried out in 1993, single-family homes accounted for 59.2% of all housing in Japan.[9] In 1997, it was estimated that about 60% of Japanese lived in detached houses.[10] In 1998, 52% of all dwellings in Japan were found to consist of detached houses owned by their residents, 36% were rented dwellings in apartment complexes, 8% were owned dwellings in apartments complexes, and 4% were rented detached houses.[11] In 2008, it was estimated that six out of ten Japanese lived in single-family houses.[12]

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