So, you just moved into your new Japanese apartment. We’ve previously written about some essential items you’ll need to outfit yourself to make adjusting to your new life in Japan a little easier — everything from train and subway IC cards to mobile phones to personal items such as packable umbrellas, utilitarian bicycles and even slip-on footwear (trust us… ).
Japan is a tiny country with a massive population — so it makes sense that the apartments generally run smaller than foreigners might be used to. But it isn’t just the size of the apartment that can cause difficulty for newbies here. There are a number of things to consider when looking for an apartment in Japan. When I first moved here, it took me a lot of trial and error to organize my belongings efficiently in a small space, to figure out what cleaning products work the best for my new environs (tatami, wood, molded plastic and metal) and to identify little essential items to start living in Japan that just make life easier.
With all of the different everyday products you’ll need to find and a language barrier to overcome, moving into a new place in a foreign country isn’t easy. Luckily, Japanese apartments all share some similarities in their layout and some products are ubiquitous when it comes to taking care of any home or apartment. From DIY fruit fly repellant to investing in sturdy drying racks for clothes and dishes, here are 10 more essentials for your new Japanese home, listed in order of affordability from least to most expensive.
1. Fruit fly repellent
One inevitable thing you’ll probably find in your apartment at some point in time are… bugs. Especially if you live in the south, the countryside or on a ground floor, you may be subject to monsters like mukade (giant Japanese centipedes) or cockroaches. With summer just around the corner, check our handy guide to some of the nasty summer creepy-crawlies you may encounter in Japan and some tips on keeping them out of your apartment.
Most likely, you will be subject to harmless but irritating fruit flies. To combat them, make your own DIY remedy by mixing together a few drops of dishwasher soap with a bit of Mitsuya Cider (bottles available at any convenience store for less than ¥200) and leave a clear cup in the vicinity of the gnats (likely around your trash cans). The flies will be attracted to the sugar, but the dish washing soap should kill them.
2. Sink strainer
Most sinks in Japan don’t have garbage disposals. Rather, they usually have a small metal or plastic basket with tiny holes (acting as a strainer) and a floppy black rubber cover that sits on top of it. For kitchen sink nerds, Japanese folks might call it a ゴミ受け (haisuikou gomiuke) 排水口ストレーナー (haisuikou suturena), or drain strainer.
In Japan, clean water is regarded highly, so they make every effort not to contaminate it with leftover food. Without a garbage disposal, it’s up to you to empty and clean the accumulated bits of food that get into the sink basket unless you want to deal with some horrendous smells. If you’d rather avoid getting down and dirty with ingredients of your last couple meals, disposable nets are a godsend because they can be put over your strainer, tossed and replaced with every wash.
Packs of 70 disposable sink basket nets can be found at 100 Yen shops along with replacement covers.
3. Cleaning products
If your Japanese is limited when you first arrive, buying cleaning products can be difficult.
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