When hunting for an apartment in the Tokyo area, it’s important to keep in mind what you’re really looking for in a living space. Housing is expensive in general in Japan, and that goes double for the neighborhoods in and around its biggest city, so after picking out a few features or aspects you have to have, it’s best to be willing to compromise on other factors.
For example, you might have your heart set on a corner room, but don’t mind tatami reed floors. Maybe you can deal with having a wall-mounted water heater if your living room gets a lot of natural light. Or perhaps being less than a 15-minute train ride from downtown Tokyo will instantly seal the deal, even if the trade-off is that the apartment’s bathroom doesn’t have any walls.
While it’s not perfect, this studio apartment listed by Japanese realtor Housecom actually has a couple of really attractive aspects to it. At the top of the list is location, as the closest station, Saginomiya, is just 12 minutes from Seibu Shinjuku station, giving its resident easy access to one of Tokyo’s largest business and entertainment districts. It’s also within walking distance of Nakamurabashi Station, from where it’s just a 12-minute train ride to Ikebukuro Station, right in the middle of another of Tokyo’s most lively urban centers.
The apartment comes with a pre-installed heater/air conditioner unit, plus has non-tatami flooring, which is generally considered to be the more desirable feature. Its location on the corner of the building also means a bit more light and less noise than an interior unit.
The building itself is fairly new, having gone up in 2000, and its concrete frame is likely to keep your living quarters better insulated and quieter than a wooden one would. There’s even a sort of open-faced closet/shelf unit included.
But like we said, apartment-hunting is all about prioritizing, and this unit isn’t completely perfect. Saginomiya Station is nine minutes away by foot, but Nakamurabashi is 13, making it just a bit outside the 10-minute limit many Tokyoites set when choosing a place to live. It’s also pretty small, even by Japanese standards, at 12.75 square meters (137.24 square feet).
Still, a lot of students and recent college graduates make do with such cozy lodgings in the early stages of their academic or professional careers in Tokyo. And besides, at just 38,000 yen (US$320) a month, it’s a steal by Tokyo standards. For that price, a lot of people would be willing to put up with a few minor inconveniences.
However, the apartment also has one major drawback, or perhaps a few, if you’re separately counting each of the bathroom walls it doesn’t have.
Taking a look at the floor plan reveals that this studio is literally a one-room apartment, in that the toilet is simply set against the wall of the living/sleeping area. Instead of walls and a door, there’s a curtain to provide some modicum of privacy.
▼ Not pictured: the radio you’ll want to leave on the floor next to the toilet from which to play music to cover up the sounds of your pooping.
The shower is also unique, in that it’s a free-standing unit that looks something like what you might find set up on the private beach of a posh tropical resort.
But hey, it’s not all bad news! As this photo shows, the extremely unprotected toilet is one of those fancy kinds with a bidet function.
However, that doesn’t mean Japanese Internet users are racing each other to get to the realtor’s office over this unique apartment, at least as far as we can tell from comments online.
“Is it a jail cell?”
“I bet it smells.”
“Who’d want to live there?”
“Maybe it’s for fetishists?”
Still, as with all things, whether something is good or bad depends on how you look at it. One commenter, for example, offered the positive perspective of just telling yourself you live in a really large, luxurious bathroom. If you think you can manage the mental gymnastics required to convince yourself of that, you can find the apartment’s Housecom listing right here.