Japanese Space and Energy Saving Ideas

Updated from a post made to FB on April 18, 2015

Space is at a premium in Japan. Homes and apartments are a fraction of the size we see in the West. Unsurprisingly, the Japanese have had ample time to develop ways to make the best use of the limited space thay have as well as ways to conserve energy. Here are some I saw:

  • keeping the ofuro/shower, toilet, and sink in separate locations. Someone can brush their teeth, another person can use the toilet, and another can be bathing/showering. One person doesn’t block it all for others
  • one separate main sink/vanity allows easy access without having to dedicate a lot of often unused bathroom space for it. It can and often is tucked around a corner
  • doors on cantilever hinges where space is tight:cantilever
  • doors at right-angles sharing the same hinge
  • rolling up the futon and bedding during the day to allow the space to be used for other stuff in the day (eating, writing, whatever):futonfuton2
  • sliding panels and French doors
  • mini-sinks serve as the toilet tank lid allowing you to rinse your hands with the water refilling the tank. This gives you the option to consider skipping a full sink with the toilet altogether and nearly all toilets have a bidet)
  • ofuru tubs which are short and deep, allowing a tall guy like me to completely submerge without having to have space for a 6+ foot tub (and the amount of heated water to fill it)
  • showering and cleaning before getting in the ofuro (tub). Multiple people use the same ofuro water (this is why it is very good form to wash thoroughly out of consideration for the next person)
  • saving the ofuro bathwater and using it in the washing machine the following day
  • lightweight, cloth-booted chairs and low tables allow for easy moving and rearranging to allow multiple uses for a single space:furniture_slippers
  • under-the-carpet heating pads and space heaters rather than central heating only heats what you need/use rather than heating a lot of unused space

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