Japanese Apartment Layouts: Japanese Apartment 101 Guides

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What is a 1LDK apartment? How is it different from a 1DK apartment? If you’re starting your Japanese apartment hunt and you’re getting bogged down by L’s and K’s, here’s our guide to understanding Japanese apartment layouts.

Contents

Abbreviations

Here’s a crash course in understanding the shorthand used for Japanese apartment listings. 

Symbol/letter Definition
# The numerical prefix represents the number of rooms designated as bedrooms in the apartment.
R Stands for room. Only used to denote studio 1R apartments (often called “one room” in Japanese, ワンルーム). As the name implies, this means that there is only one room that serves as the kitchen/dining room/living room/bedroom. You’ll probably have to practice some space saving techniques as 1R apartments tend to range from 12 sqm to 19 sqm.
L Stands for living room. This is space where one will likely place a sofa or chair and a low table.
D Stands for dining room. Space where one can put a dining table.
K Stands for kitchen. Although 1K apartments technically have a kitchen area, there might only be one or two burners available on the range. Or, it may be the case where you have to purchase a range separately. 
S Stands for service room. Usually a smaller room without a window or air conditioning unit.

One thing to note is the distinction of living room/dining room in Japanese architecture. While in some Western-style homes, you might find the living room and dining room separated with a door to get between the two distinct rooms, it’s much more common in Japan to consider the living and dining areas almost extensions of each other. For example, it’s common to have the living/dining area designated as one large room.

Here is an example of an LDK area. Note how the areas all flow together in one large space.

Size and Pros & Cons

Here’s a general overview of what to expect in terms of apartment size. The apartment specification (1R, 1DK, 1LDK, etc.) doesn’t necessarily give us any information about the size of the apartment, but it can give you a general idea of what to expect. Check out our in-depth articles on 1R, 1DK, 1LDK, and 2LDK apartments for more examples. Keep in mind these are very broad strokes as actual room layout and price vary depending on many factors (distance to station, year built, nearby facilities, etc.).

Apartment type Typical size (sq m) Pros Cons
1R 12 – 20 Inexpensive Often utilize a unit bath (bathroom sink, shower/bath, and toilet in one room).

With kitchen area so close to the living area, cooking smells can seep into your clothes/bed easily.

1K 20 – 25 Kitchen and bedroom are separated so food smells are less likely to linger in clothes/bedding. Since there’s no designated dining space, 1K apartments can still feel slightly compact.

Usually not a lot of extra storage space.

1DK 25 – 35 Balance between space and price. Those who are searching based on price will find 1R and 1K apartments more affordable.

Those who are searching for space will most likely want a 1LDK.

1LDK 40 – 50 Comfortable amount of space for 1 person.

Sometimes even livable for 2 people.

Tend to be expensive, especially in downtown areas where space commands a premium price.

Layout cheat sheet

Nowadays, Japanese real estate agents are increasingly adding English to their apartment listings, but even just four to five years ago it was extremely rare to find English on apartment listings! You will often run into listings with layouts that have not been translated into English. Even without reading Japanese you should get a good idea of the property, but it never hurts to be able to extract every last drop of info of your potential home as you can. Here are some common (and uncommon) Japanese characters (and English abbreviations) that you might find on a Japanese property listing.

Japanese Japanese Pronunciation English definition
帖/畳 じょう, jyo Counter for tatami mats. Used to express room size. 1 jyo is roughly 1.62 sq m or 16.5 sq ft.
和室 わしつ, washitsu Japanese-style room. Denotes a room with a tatami floor.
洋室 ようしつ, yoshitu Western-style room. Denotes a room with hard flooring.
浴室 よくしつ, yokushitsu Bathroom. Not the toilet.
玄関 げんかん, genkan Apartment entrance area. Sometimes shortened to just 玄. Area for taking off shoes.
トイレ/T といれ, toire Toilet.
洗/W あらい, arai Washing machine. Short for 洗濯機.
冷/R れい, rei Refrigerator. Short for 冷蔵庫.
洗面室/洗面所 せんめんしつ, senmenshitsu Powder room/wash room. Denotes area where there will most likely be a sink and mirror.
収納 しゅうのう, shuno Storage area.
ホール ほーる, horu Hall or hallway.
バルコニー ばるこにー, barukoni Balcony.
UB ユニットバス, yunitto basu Unit bath. Refers to a single, prefabricated waterproof room that contains the bathroom sink and bath/shower. In some cases, the toilet will also be included in this room.
CL クロゼット, kurozetto Closet. Storage space.
WIC ウォークインクローゼット, uokuinkurozetto Walk in closet. Large storage space.
SB シューズボックス, shuzubokkusu Shoe box. Usually located in the genkan (entrance area).
SCL/SIC シューズインクローゼット, shuzuinkurozetto Shoe closet. Larger area for storing shoes.
WC ウォータークローゼット, uotakurozetto Water closet. Another abbreviation for toilet.
PS パイプスペース, paipusupesu Pipe space. Used to denote where water/drainage pipes are located in the apartment.
UT ユーティリティテラス, yutirititerasu Utility terrace. In some apartments, there might be a small space adjacent to the kitchen or laundry room that is located outside. Depending on how the apartment is designed, this might be space to hang laundry or as a spot to leave garbage until the proper pick-up day.
MB メーターボックス, metabokkusu Meter box. The location of the gas/water/electricity meters. Usually near the genkan (entrance area) so the information can be easily read by the respective companies.
EV エレベーター, erebeta Elevator.

Example layouts

Let’s put all this info together and look at a few example layouts.

1R

Here’s an example of a 1R studio apartment layout. UB stands for “unit bathroom” which in this case means the tub, shower, sink, and toilet are all located in the same space-saving waterproof room. It also seems like there is no space for a washing machine in this apartment, so always watch out for that (there might be laundry facilities on-site). There is also no closet space, so residents will have to utilize some sort of clothing rack in the room.

1K

Here is a 1K style apartment layout. The kitchen area is separated from the bedroom, which gives you more sense of space than a 1R apartment. But, without extra space around the kitchen, there’s no actual designated dining area. Also, note the closet space (クローゼット) in this apartment. Closet space will vary, so definitely make sure you find an apartment that can accommodate your wardrobe/storage needs!

1SLDK

Here’s a 1SLDK apartment. Notice the “service room” (サービス ルーム) to the left of the layout. It looks like since this is a corner apartment, there’s even a window in this service room – a fairly uncommon feature for service rooms. In this apartment, it looks like a convenient way to get from the bedroom to the shower room without having to walk through the living area. In this layout, there is space designated 下足入 (げそくいれ), which is an uncommon way to refer to a shoe storage area.

2LDK

The rooms in this 2LDK apartment are Western-style (hard flooring) rooms, but you might come across apartments with tatami mat flooring in your apartment search. In the top-left of the layout, you can see that this apartment has a larger storage space for shoes (in Japanese, this agent has opted to use the word シューズクローク, literally translated to “shoe cloakroom”). Although the layout doesn’t designate a space for a refrigerator, it would be very odd for such a large apartment to not have space for a refrigerator. But leave no stone unturned in your apartment search, and ask the agent any questions you might have!

3LDK

Lastly, let’s take a look at an example 3LDK apartment layout. In this example we can see a Japanese-style room. For those of us who don’t have experience living in a house or apartment with tatami flooring, check out our guide on maintaining tatami to prepare yourself.

Hopefully this clears up some of your questions about navigating Japanese apartment layouts! If your still looking for more info, check our in-depth guides for more examples of what to expect for certain types of apartments!


If you’re looking into what the apartment hunting process in Japan entails, here’s our quick rundown of what to expect. Knowledge is half the battle, and you’ll want to be prepared since the battlefield of apartment hunting takes no prisoners.

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