Photo: GaijinPot

How to organize your tiny Japanese kitchen

By Alexandra Ziminski

The average size of a Tokyo apartment is typically pretty small, especially for single residents. For example, a typical 1K apartment (one room and kitchen) is around 25 meters. When I lived in a 17-meter place with my partner, what drove us up the wall wasn’t sleeping on a futon or a tiny balcony — it was making dinner in the one-meter-long kitchen.

My life consisted of one-pot meals, stacking cups like Jenga and appliances like our microwave doubling as a cutting board. Don’t even get me started on the no-oven situation. After moving to a bigger place, I am now blessed with a—ahem—generous two-burner stove. However, I still come across annoyances that I can’t “Marie Kondo” away.

Luckily for us, we are not alone. As this is a domestic problem, the Japanese kitchenware market has developed innovative products and appliances to cure our tiny-kitchen woes.

Attract attention with magnets

Magnets. How do they work? Photo: Alexandra Ziminski

Your kitchen might be small, but it probably has a treasure trove of magnetic surfaces and the prime spot on the fridge. While mine is usually home to an impressive display of souvenir magnets, I could place several useful inventions for everything from towels to kitchen rolls.

If you have a larger fridge—lucky you—you may benefit from an all-in-one rack that can hold up to 9 kg.

Hang your fruit high

Mesh with some onions. Photo: Alexandra Ziminski

Organizing your kitchen doesn’t need to be bland. So why not breathe a little personality into your cooking sanctuary by channeling your inner bohemian. For example, if looking at your overflowing fruit bowl fills you with dread, then try hanging your produce with a mesh bag.

Mesh bags clear your cluttered worktops, let your potatoes and onions breathe and avoid the path of the humid-loving cockroach.

These mesh bags look stylish while also doubling as eco-friendly shopping bags. But, from my experience, you may need more than one if your other half often brings home a bushel of apples.

You can also use adhesive hooks. They won’t break the bank (prices start at ¥100) and are excellent in the kitchen. You can also hang a range of bits and bobs such as towels, spatulas and pots.

Organize up

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot

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The kitchen in my new Tokyo apartment is about the same size as the one in my Canadian condo. However, the latter has a 4 burner stove with big oven and a dishwasher - items lacking in my Japanese pad. Paradoxically, the former is cluttered, the latter not. Must be something to do with bad/inefficient Japanese building design. Very few built-in shelving, gotta buy your own.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

JeffLee, condos are better built and equipped than apartments in Japan.

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Mr Kipling's Japanese kitchen is not tiny, most would say it is exceedingly large by any standards.

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To call the average Japanese kitchen a "kitchen" would be a stretch. It's more a kitchenette because where in gods' name are the storage spaces for dry and long life foods? I'm not asking for a dedicated pantry here, just some built-in shelves to store pasta, cereal, snacks and whatnot. Honestly, the" kitchens" here are just appallingly designed.

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When I lived in Italy I loved the huge farmhouse kitchens which was the vocal place of the home. Large wooden table for working and eating. Pizza wood oven in the corner. Make pasta on the table.

Japanese kitchens are a challenge. In our Nagano, I converted a room into a kitchen more like the western size.

Our current one is manageable where I can prepare complicated dishes and bake or use an oven. Also, Air Fryer is a must and a slow cooker. No microwave.

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