lifestyle

7 must-know things about the Japanese home and kitchen

10 Comments
By Fiona Uyema

My first experience of a typical Japanese home was at my homestay mother’s house in Gunma prefecture when I was a student. Later in the years, while working in Niigata prefecture, I relived the experience in my own apartment which was also equipped with a typical Japanese kitchen. It was in those two places where I was first introduced to some of the key characteristics of the Japanese home, which would simultaneously surprise me and make me understand a few cultural factors about Japan. Here are my essential seven.

1. Shoes on, shoes off

This is a question you would often get from many locals when you first come to Japan: “Do you take your shoes off at home in your country?” Yes, in many parts of the world we do, yet in some, we don’t. In Japan, however, the shoes off principle implies to literally every home you get to go to, whether yours, your bestie’s or this of a stranger. Although most of us know it when going to Japan, it’s so easy to forget.

The first stop at a Japanese home is the genkan — the entrance, where you would take off your shoes and gently arrange them facing the front door after entering the house. You would then put slippers on, which on most occasions will be arranged for you prior to your visit.

Many houses also have special indoor slippers for the toilet. If you are wearing indoor slippers and notice that there are other slippers inside the toilet, take off your slippers, leave them in front of the toilet and change into the toilet slippers while there. Once out, leave them where they were and change into your regular slippers.

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© Savvy Tokyo

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10 Comments
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We have a dishwasher in our "luxury" apartment, but it's never used for that purpose: it's used as additional storage. The oven is also used for storage.

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If you're a guy, DO NOT enter the kitchen unless you're required to wash the dishes.

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Those water heaters are rubbish, you can't make a proper cup of tea with them as they are NOT boilers, the temp never reaches 100C.

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Trying to find the kitchen through the stacked steel shelving, plastic boxes and clutter is in itself a task, then it --more often than not-- needs cleaning first.

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The clutter in most Japanese kitchens is a health hazard.

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LudditeToday  02:36 pm JST

Those water heaters are rubbish, you can't make a proper cup of tea with them as they are NOT boilers, the temp never reaches 100C.

Luddite: Most electric kettles in Japan these days have a temperature setting. You most certainly can boil water with them if you wanted to... however, the point to those kettles is that you can MAINTAIN the water at a hot temperature (just under boiling point) for things like green tea or cup noodles. I think the article actually mentions that green tea is better served with water NOT at boiling temperatures.

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Are we talking Hot water pots or electric Kettles. I use an electric kettle which don't keep the water hot, just boils the water up and switches off.

Article shows hot water pots not kettles.

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Luddite: Most electric kettles in Japan these days have a temperature setting. You most certainly can boil water with them if you wanted to... however, the point to those kettles is that you can MAINTAIN the water at a hot temperature (just under boiling point) for things like green tea or cup noodles. I think the article actually mentions that green tea is better served with water NOT at boiling temperatures.

It's NOT a boiler and you cannot make black tea with the water as it is not on the boil. Alsp tea tastes better when made with freshly drawn water. It's not surpising I can't get a decent cup of tea in Japan outside my own home. Proper stove top kettle every time.

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Japan has spoiled me. We can NEVER enter our house in America now with shoes. Whew, nasty. Toilet in a separate little space is great! Japan has this right! Japanese hot pot for keeping water right temperature for our pour over coffee is also great. We've got about 4 of those! I'll put it this way: for Ethyl and me, life in Japan is better than life in America. Food, general cleanliness, great water nationwide, onsen!! Roads are better, low crime rate, we love Japan. When Japanese people who meet me and hear me speaking Japanese, sometimes they'll ask how I like Japan. I say, well I've lived here so long I know the good, the bad, and the ugly about Japan, and I still love it.

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LudditeAug. 22  09:59 pm JST

It's NOT a boiler and you cannot make black tea with the water as it is not on the boil. Alsp tea tastes better when made with freshly drawn water. It's not surpising I can't get a decent cup of tea in Japan outside my own home. Proper stove top kettle every time.

Most hot water pots these days have a button that boils the water separate from the "Maintain Temperature" button. It usually reads "再沸とう" or "沸とう" or "湯沸かし" ("Bring to a boil again", "Bring to a boil", or "Boil", respectively).

As far as using "fresh"water, that's a personal choice. I was simply stating that the hot water pots mentioned in the article CAN boil where you stated they cannot.

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