Friday, March 03, 2006

Our apartment

We have now spent four months in our apartment--this gift of God. We usually enjoy living here... The location has been ideal for both our ministry (10 minutes walk from ICCS) and for the kids' commute to the Christian Academy (5 minute walk to the station and 15-20 minute train ride). I think that since the apartment is a bit unique in its shape, we enjoy it a little more! But one more room would have been nice.

The floor plan is typical of what one gets here in Japan when you go to rent a place, although this one has more detail with the actual dimensions (in centemeters). Housing is labed by the number of rooms, so this one is called a 3LDK--meaning that there are three rooms in addition to the joint Living-Dining room. Rooms are rated by the number of tatami (woven straw) mats that could fit in them. So, we have one 6-mat room, one 4.5 mat room, the size of the living/dining room is 12 mats, and the triangular room is calculated to be 10 mats. All this translates into 82 square meters, which we figured to be about 920 square feet.

So, when we were expecting a place that was at least 115 square meters, this is a bit of a squeeze. The phrase "ruthlessly eliminate clutter from your lives" (I think I got it from an Ann Ortland book years ago) came to mind when we started to move in here! It has to be my daily motto--because there is no room for clutter, and anything out of place looks like clutter! [Okay, there are two rooms that are not my direct responsiblity, and they do tend to be more cluttered--but I can close those doors and if the occupants are comfortable then theoretically, I should be too.]

Here are two views of our living/dining room, with the kitchen off to the left. Notice how bright it is! We have a lovely southern exposure which is valued in Japan. That means that if the sun is out, we get it. It helps to keep the apartment warm in the winter...which is actually one of the benefits of living here. This is the first winter in our 20+ years that we haven't had to feel chilled constantly! The apartment has been warm and relatively draft free. Our utilitiy costs are about 1/5 what they were in our old house.

A is the one with the smallest room. We have borrowed a loft bed now, and so she has more floor space, but she is defintely cramped. When her sister was home at Christmas, there was no floor space. I have to say that we admire her attitude. This is challenging to her (her last room was this small, too). Someday I hope she is rewarded with an expansive room!

The boys room is the "coolest" in this apartment. It is down a little hallway, and has this great sweep to open space. They seem to enjoy it. We had hoped to be able to split them, but this room is large enough, and provides enough open space, that they seem to be doing reasonably well sharing.

Our room is the "tatami" room--it has the straw mat flooring. We've covered it with a carpet so we can put the bed down on it without doing too much damage to the tatami. We have a whole wall of closets--but none of them are full length. There is a shelf that goes across the width of the closet about where you see the circle handles.

It is a bit weird to be in a bedroom without windows...this is an inside room. In a different family, this room might be used as an extension of the living room. The photo is being taken from the living room, and the wall here is actually three doors but we have the china cabinet in front of two of them.

The final photo is our balcony, aka clothes dryer... Our electric clothes dryer is broken, and we held off replacing it with the thought that if we moved into a house with a gas connection, we would buy a gas dryer. Meanwhile, along with most of Japan, we hang our laundry out on racks and poles and make use of solar heat! Our small freezer is at the end of the balcony. If those trees weren't as tall as they are, you would be able to see Mt. Fuji in the background.

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