A Traditional Japanese Home

It’s official! We have chosen a new home in which we will reside for the next three years we are living in Japan. If you followed along in our home search, you may have guessed that we ended up choosing property no. 5! It’s a traditional Japanese house built 70+ years ago, but had everything we were looking for in a new home. With Japanese details like tatami mats, shoji screens, and decorative transoms, as well as modern updates and plenty of space for our growing family, we were able to find a home that met all of our needs.

Of course, we did have to make a few compromises, like living 20 minutes from base {which is considered far in Iwakuni}, but I don’t think we would have found a house this large had we been adamant on living closer. By far, our biggest compromise when choosing to rent this house was the lack of a dishwasher. I’m not looking forward to hand washing dishes for the next three years, so hopefully that’s something I can convince my husband to do… kidding!

I am beyond excited to begin moving in! Let me take you on a tour of our new home…


· The Entryway ·


As soon as I walked up to the front of this house, I knew it was what I was hoping to find in a Japanese home. Double doors open into a large entryway, where it’s customary to take off your shoes before entering the home.

· Foyer ·


After taking off your shoes, you step up into a large foyer with tatami mats and shoji screens positioned along the perimeter of the room. This is what sold me on the house. I can already picture how I am going to decorate this room and I can hardly wait!

· Living Room ·


The living room is a large, open space that will without a doubt fit all of our American furniture.


There are two walls of sliding glass doors located at both ends of this space that I imagine leaving open on warm, sunny days in order to let the breeze blow through the house.

· Kitchen ·


The kitchen is large, but lacks cabinet and countertop space. Because Japanese people are typically shorter, the countertops are much lower than what we are accustomed to in America.

Luckily, we were able to rent a microwave, oven/stove, and refrigerator, from base because this house didn’t come with any appliances. I wish base would also allow us to rent dishwashers!


The kitchen is large enough to fit our dining table, which is perfect because there is no space for a separate dining room.


As you can see from the picture above, there is a courtyard in the center of our home surrounded by sliding glass doors that is filled with plants and a cute little bridge. I’m pretty sure this area was once used as a pond, but unfortunately, it no longer holds water.


· Office ·


The room off the kitchen is technically considered a bedroom, but we have decided to use is as our office. It gets a lot of natural light and there are large, sliding glass doors that open up to the backyard.

· The Bathroom ·

The one and only bathroom in this house has its own wing. Located at the back of the house, the bathroom consists of a few different rooms off this long hallway. There is a main bathroom with a sink, washer/dryer hookups, and a waterproof shower room complete with a soaking tub. A little further down the hall, there are two separate toilet rooms {water closets}. Why they decided to put two toilet rooms right next to each other rather than one upstairs, I will never understand, but we are happy to have found a house with two toilets nonetheless.


Japanese toilets are super fancy. The lids open and close automatically, the seats are heated, and they have built in bidets. Interestingly enough, some Japanese toilets have a sink above the tank for washing your hands.

· Master Bedroom ·

The room we have chosen to use as our master is located on the main floor. We debated using this space as a dining room and having our master upstairs, but without a bathroom upstairs, we thought it best to sleep downstairs in the event of late night emergencies.

· Bedroom No 2 ·

This bedroom located upstairs will become our guest room. Since we now live in Asia, we are expecting a lot of out-of-town guests and thought it would be a good idea to have a place for them to sleep. While it’s super dated, this room is huge. Hopefully I can work some magic in this space!

· Bedroom No 3 ·

We plan on using this upstairs room as Summer’s nursery. It has a large picture window that lets in a lot of natural light.


There is a large closet for storage as well as a cute little nook to the right in which I plan on putting Summer’s crib.

· Bedroom No 4 ·

Bedrooms 3 and 4 are actually connected. If desired, shoji screens can be installed down the center of the room, dividing this large space into two smaller ones. For now, we will use bedrooms 3 and 4 as Summer’s room, as well as some much needed storage, but will divide the rooms should we be expecting another child in the future.

Thanks for checking out our new digs! Once our household goods shipment arrives, I will have my hands full getting unpacked and organized, but I plan on sharing plenty of before & after pictures with you along the way!

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  1. We move very soon. Thank you for sharing you experiences. Im happy to know that we can rent appliances from base! Did you find all of these homes thru the housing office?

    1. You’re very welcome! Initially we began our search at the housing office, but then ventured out to a real estate agent just down the street from base, called Kaz. She had additional listings that housing didn’t have. The house we rented was in fact one of Kaz’s listings, and housing worked with her (as I’m sure they’ve done many times) to complete our lease and other paperwork. Anytime we’ve ever needed anything, we call Kaz’s office and they set everything up for us (appointments with Japanese contractors, etc). I recommend starting with housing to see what they have listed for rent, and if you don’t like what you see, check out another real estate company in town because they may have completely different inventory!

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