japan culture

traditional Japanese houses

Most traditional Japanese houses are made of wood and have a Japanese style room,
which has tatami flooring.
The tokonoma, an alcove, is a space for decoration where people display Japanese drawings,
flowers and so on.
You can usually experience the Japanese aesthetic in this space.
Shoji, wooden framed sliding doors covered with Japanese paper,
produce the distinctive shadow and light of Japanese houses by making the sunlight
softer as it comes through the paper.
While concrete houses with wooden floors are also popular these days,
Japanese people still like to have at least one Japanese style room in their house.

Japan from a geographical point of view, has a lot of earthquakes,
so the brick houses often seen in Western countries are not suitable for Japan.
Even if you see what appears to be a brick house, it probably just has brick-like tiles on the walls.
Sliding doors used to be used for the entrance, but Western style doors are common now.
Also kawara, a traditional Japanese tile, used to be a common material,
but many houses have Western tiles or flat, accessible rooftop balconies these days.

Since Japan is an island country with rough terrain,
the areas suitable for living are overcrowded and there is a shortage of land.
As a result, land is very expensive and a house with a garden in the city
tends to be beyond most people’s reach.
Compared to houses in Western countries, which are made with stone and bricks
and so retain their value, wooden Japanese houses are said to have a useful life of only 30 years
and a depreciation period of about 15 years.
After a certain number of years wooden houses tend to lose value as an asset.
Many people say that we need to change the house valuation criteria to reflect this.

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