A Japanese Home
Our flat is fairly typically Japanese, although a lot of people now have more Western style homes. Most people live in flats - land is expensive, and this is therefore the cheapest option. Some people live in houses, and although now made of concrete, they are still usually built in traditional Japanese style. When you enter a Japanese home, don't forget to take your shoes off at the door, and take a present for your host!

Lets start with the kitchen. I am convinced that all Japanese kitchens look exactly the same, as I have never yet been in one that is significantly different to our's!
There is no oven - Japanese cuisine traditionally does not involve roasting and baking like English cooking, so an oven is not really necessary. Instead you will usually find a hob, fish grill/broiler thing and sometimes a toaster and a microwave. The toaster can be used as a type of oven due to its shape and size. Otherwise the kitchen pretty much resembles what you would get in England - only with chopsticks in the cutlery drawer instead of knives and forks!

Moving on to the bedroom. Japanese homes traditionally don't have rooms that are assigned as "bed"rooms or "living" rooms. There will usually be two or three (or more if you have a large house!) tatami rooms. Tatami mats are a floor covering - woven rush mats. Not thin mats that you can move around, but great thick things that are secured pretty well to the floor. An average size room is about 6 tatami mats - indeed, the number of tatami mats in a room is the standard way of measuring room size in Japan! These tatami rooms are used for sleeping, living, etc, and a bedroom will often become a study, playroom or living room during the day. This transition is easy, as in place of beds, the Japanese sleep on futons. Not those funny wooden framed things you see in Ikea, but a simple matress and duvet that are spread on the floor by night, and put away or hung out to air by day. Furniture in a tatami room is pretty minimal, although I suppose this does depend on the taste of the owner. You will find TV tables, bookcases etc, but are unlikely to find a 3 piece suite! There may be cushions to sit on, and there may also be a "kotatsu". This is a low table with an electrical heating device underneath. You sit with your knees under a blanket spread across the table and get warm!!! There are usually built-in cupboards in the tatami rooms, which have pretty paper sliding doors (stronger than thay sound!) The same kind of doors also often divide the tatami rooms.

Which leads us to the bathroom. Our bathroom is Western style, but a traditional bathroom is different. The toilet is seperate, and special slippers are provided for use ONLY in this room. It is almost a crime to wear these slippers outside of the toilet (fair enough really - its very hygenic!) The bath and shower are found in another room. You wash yourself and shave outside of the bath, and then step into the small but deep bath to relax in the hot water. Soap and dirt should never come into contact with the bath water, and usually the whole family use the same tubful of water, which is kept warm by circulating through pipes.

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