How to describe Japanese houses?

Q: Hi Richard,   I find your websites so useful for learning Japanese. I was wandering how you would describe a modern house in Japanese using colours, maybe adjectives e.g. big [ookii], small [chiisai], how many floors, how many rooms etc.   Thanks,  Olly

A:  Hi Olly,

The best word to describe most houses in Japan would be – busaiku – ugly! The architectural here is shockingly bad.

Hence there isn’t the same pride in your house or doing it up like there is in Europe or America.

Think designed by Microsoft, not by Apple.

Having said that, there is a whole convention on describing housing here, involving a secret code of numbers and letters!

So you might see places described like this outside real estate agents:

1K or 1DK = one small room plus a small kitchen or one dining kitchen.  (Of course you also have a bath or shower room and toilet)

2K or 2DK = two small rooms plus a kitchen or dining kitchen.

3K = I think you get the idea….

1LDK = means you also get a “living room”

On the whole don’t expect to spend much time at home.    Most people are at work or school all day and then go out to starbucks, izakaya or restaurants on an evening before going home to just crash.

It’s a shame because traditional Japan looks amazing, and there is so much good old design here.  I just wish the architects would study it a bit more!  (As well as take into account basic things like if you have an amazing view, put the windows facing it, not on the other side!)

Anyway, it all makes for a different experience!

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