House Hunting in Japan

After finding out that we would be moving to Japan, the one thing I have had at the forefront of my mind was housing. Where will we live? What will our house look like? Will we find a place big enough for our family? Will we be able to bring all of our furniture or will we need to downsize? I had countless questions for which answers seemed difficult to come by.

Once we arrived, I hit the ground running in hopes of finding a traditional Japanese home with simple interiors, sliding paper screens, effortless indoor/outdoor living, and a immaculately manicured Japanese garden complete with a coy pond.

Unfortunately, my visions of grandeur left me feeling underwhelmed and slightly disappointed with the local inventory. House hunting in Japan was much different than anything I have ever experienced before and I quickly learned that I needed to adjust my expectations.

Within the first two weeks of living in Japan, we toured a dozen homes. We found that most Japanese homes in the area had these things in common:

• Traditional Japanese features like tatami mats covering the floors and sliding shoji screens separating rooms.
• Dated kitchens with minimal cabinet space.
• Lack of stoves and dishwashers {unless there was a portable washer that took up valuable countertop space}.
• One bathroom on the main floor with a separate toilet room, and no bathroom upstairs.
• No central heating/air conditioning.
• Small rooms.
• Small yards.
• Tiny parking spaces.

After touring homes for a few weeks, we narrowed down our wish list to five. Before making our final decision, we toured each of the five homes for a second time to weigh out the pros and cons of each property.

· Property No 1 ·

Iwakuni Home Search-13Iwakuni Home Search-14
Iwakuni Home Search-15Iwakuni Home Search-16
+ A gorgeous, magazine-worthy Japanese garden plus a large backyard
+ Newly remodeled with a beautiful kitchen and bathroom
+ Dishwasher
+ Large soaking tub
+ Open living floor plan with lots of natural light
+ Located about 10 minutes from base

– Only one very small parking space {which definitely would not fit the minivan we just purchased}
– No bathroom upstairs
– Three very small bedrooms that didn’t have closets

Japanese Homes-25 Japanese Homes-28 Japanese Homes-26Japanese Homes-27Japanese Homes-31Japanese Homes-30

· Property No 2 ·

Iwakuni Home SearchIwakuni Home Search-2
Iwakuni Home Search-3Iwakuni Home Search-4
+ House on a hill with a beautiful view of the ocean
+ Toilet upstairs
+ Decent sized bedrooms
+ Located about 10 minutes from base

– Smallest house on our list
– Countertop dishwasher
– Dated bathroom
– Only three bedrooms

Japanese HomesJapanese Homes-2Japanese Homes-3 Japanese Homes-4 Japanese Homes-6Japanese Homes-5Japanese Homes-7

· Property No 3 ·

Iwakuni Home Search-9Iwakuni Home Search-10
Iwakuni Home Search-11Iwakuni Home Search-12
+ Spacious home with open floor plan
+ Large kitchen
+ Large bedrooms
+ Bathroom upstairs
+ Located near the beach

– Dated bathrooms
– No dishwasher
– 15-20 minutes from base

Japanese Homes-18Japanese Homes-17Japanese Homes-19 Japanese Homes-20Japanese Homes-21Japanese Homes-22 Japanese Homes-23Japanese Homes-24

· Property No 4 ·

Iwakuni Home Search-5Iwakuni Home Search-8
Iwakuni Home Search-6Iwakuni Home Search-7
+ Traditional house with lots of Japanese character
+ Large, open floor plan
+ Yard with a large storage shed
+ Plenty of parking
+ Located about 3 minutes from base

– Located on a busy street
– Dated kitchen and bathroom
– No dishwasher

Japanese Homes-10 Japanese Homes-11Japanese Homes-12Japanese Homes-13 Japanese Homes-14 Japanese Homes-16Japanese Homes-15

· Property No 5 ·

Iwakuni Home Search-17Iwakuni Home Search-18
Iwakuni Home Search-19Iwakuni Home Search-20
+ Traditional house with lots of Japanese character
+ Large, open floor plan
+ Spacious rooms
+ Large kitchen
+ Remodeled bathroom with two toilets
+ Large bedrooms with plenty of closet space
+ Huge backyard

– No dishwasher
– No bathroom upstairs
– Narrow driveway
– Located about 20-25 minutes from base

Japanese Homes-33Japanese Homes-34 Japanese Homes-36 Japanese Homes-39Japanese Homes-38Japanese Homes-37

We genuinely liked all five homes, and could picture ourselves living in each, however, there was one house that stood out to us from the minute we stepped inside. We weighed all the pros and cons and decided to go with our gut… with the house that just felt right for our family.

Can you guess which property we chose?

{Click here to find out!}

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