The Japanese typically prefer either the single-family detached home or the multifamily dwelling. Most Japs live in single-family detached homes and those houses are typically torn down and rebuilt after a span of 20 to 30 years as it is thought homes are not meant to be very long-term and rehabilitated as they are in West.
Traditional single-family home has a very different look from a typical western home. Older homes are made of wood and paper and are usually one or two stories. Modern homes are constructed of wood and iron. Rooms in a typical home do not have a designated use with the exception of the genkan, kitchen, bathroom and toilet. A sliding door made of wood and paper are used to partition rooms and can be removed when more space is needed.
The partitioning of rooms gives the home a more spacious feel than the typical Western-style home. At least one room in a traditional home is made into a traditional Japanese room, or a “washitsu” and is sparsely furnished with tatami mats as flooring. The multifamily dwelling typically consists of rental apartments or owner-occupied dwellings in a large building, much like the typical apartment/condominium building in West.
The typical apartment in Japan is smaller and comes with wooden or tatami matted floors. A “tatami mat” is traditionally made of rice straw, although in more recent times, it consists of compressed wood chip floors or polystyrene foam. Apartments in Japan usually come with one room and a kitchen. Some include a dining room and others a separate living room, dining room and kitchen area. The apartment also includes a bathroom and a “genkan,” the entrance where the shoes are taken off.