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In this chapter:

  • The standard of living in Japan is high
  • Homes are small, due to the lack of space in Japan, but they are comfortable
  • Rooms in Japanese houses double as living areas and bedrooms. Mattresses are kept in cupboards during the day
  • Fewer and fewer Japanese people own their own houses, particularly in large cities like Tokyo where a big population and no space means that house prices are unaffordable
  • In a Japanese family the mother plays a large role in the lives of the children and spends a considerable amount of time with them
  • A husband will go to work and then give his wife his salary from which he will be given a portion for pocket money. The wife controls the household finances
  • Bathing is a ritualistic part of Japanese like. Cleanliness is very important


The standard of living in Japan is much higher than it used to be. The average wage is better and therefore life at home is better. While houses are still small, due to a lack of room, they are comfortable. Many things in a Japanese home are traditional. A family of four will live in a two- or three-room home, with a bathroom and a kitchen. In this instance the two rooms double as living and sleeping areas. See image 1.
Beds called futons are pulled out of cupboards at night and laid on the floor and then they are put back the next morning. The floors are typically covered in a springy mat called tatami. People do not wear shoes inside. They are removed at the front door and replaced with slippers. Today's home in Japan is also generally full of modern appliances, like televisions and stereos. See image 2.
In Japan, only around 60% of people own their own home. In Tokyo only approximately half the population lives in rented accommodation. A lot of the time, the nearest place available to rent, or the nearest place that is affordable, is an hour from the city. Accommodation an hour from the centre of Tokyo is often still far more expensive than a place in the middle of another city. Very few young people today buy their own houses.

Home life

It is common in Japan for three generations to live under one roof. This is becoming less common today, but still exists, certainly in the countryside. The norm in Japan is for the husband to go to work and the wife to take care of all things domestic. This, also, is changing with more women going to work. Mothers play an enormous role in the lives of their children and the bond is very strong. Babysitters are rarely used and mothers often sleep with their babies. A mother will also spend hours with children doing school work. See image 3.

Few Japanese men help with housework. There is more pressure today for this to change. The finances of a family, though, are the responsibility of the women who handle most of the household expenses. There are exceptions in instances when something of value, like a car, is being bought. Husbands in Japan give their salaries to their wives. They are returned a sum of money as pocket money, otherwise how to use the rest is the wife's decision.


Bathing in Japan is a part of life. It is ritualistic in the way that it takes place. In the home, due to a cleaning process beforehand, every member of a family will bathe in the same water one after the other. Mothers commonly bathe with their small children.

See animation 1.

Chapters: Mealtime Family life Clothes Transport

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Question 1/5

1. Currently, the standard of living in Japan is:

much higher than it used to be

always going up and down

about the same as it used to be

much lower than it used to be


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