Apartments in Japan require regular love and attention. Combine humidity, paper thin walls, tatami mats, and zero insulation and you are left with extremely high maintenance apartment buildings. There are two main types of apartment buildings in Japan: the concrete "mansion" and the wooden "apaato." Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Mansions are usually newer buildings are a little nicer on the inside to make up for the concrete exterior. Apaatos are often older and creakier and have a more traditional layout, but are likely to suffer from fewer mold problems than mansions.
Mold Killers and CleanersEdit
- Kabi Killer カビキラ Contains bleach and harsh chemicals, but works well on tough mold and mildew. Spray the chemical on the affected area, let sit for a few minutes, and then scrub the mold off with a moist sponge or cloth. Keep your windows open while cleaning to avoid inhaling the chemicals.
General Cleaning ProductsEdit
- Disposable Nets Place these nets in your shower and kitchen drains to catch debris that may attract bugs. You can buy these disposable nets at any 100-yen shop. Change regularly, especially during the summer months.
- Dani A-su ダニアース This bug killer is the best way to get rid of tatami ticks. You can purchase it from your local home/drug store. In your tatami room, insert the needle into the tatami 6-8 times evenly spaced apart and inject the pesticide for 15 to 20 seconds. Usually you can inject the pesticide once into each small mat. The chemical shouldn't be harmful to you, but it's a good idea to be out of the apartment for an hour or two after the treatment to allow for ventilation.
- Mosquito Coils Relatively cheap and effective, but smoky. These can be purchased at your local home/drug stores.
- Electronic Mosquito Repellent These cost a few thousand yen, but don't smell and are effective. These plug into the wall and vaporize a liquid over a period of time (up to three months depending on the brand).
- Cockroach Houses ごきぶり ホイホイ An innovative killing method for disposing of cockroaches. Found at your local home/drug stores, these house have sticky sheets of paper inside of them to catch the roaches.
Ishikawa summers are hot, humid, and buggy. This can lead to mold and mildew on stored items and can compromise dry foods. These items are a must for summer time:
- Room Dessicants （除湿剤）are little plastic tubs filled with clear beads. These beads absorb water in the air. A pack of three or four costs about 300 yen, and depending on how humid your apartment is, you may want to replace them every week or so. An easy-to-spot brand is 水とりぞうさん, which has an elephant on the packaging. Disposal: The water inside is safe to dump in your sink. You can throw the tub in with your other plastics.
Winters are long, wet, cold, and dark. As Japan changes its energy policies in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, energy costs have gone up and up. Apartments in Ishikawa are rarely insulated, so turning on your AC unit for heat is only marginally more cost-efficient than burning 1,000 yen bills for warmth. Make sure you have these things before it gets too cold to leave the house!
- Window/Door Insulation. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster and nuclear power plant closures nation wide, Japan has finally started to warm up to the idea of insulation. You can find rolled up sheets of what looks almost like bubble wrap at most home or department stores. They are made to be cut to fit your balcony doors and just stick to them for months after being coated with water.
- Kotatsu. A low, heated table where you will probably spend all your time. The kotatsu mat goes underneat the kotatsu, and the kotatsu quilt goes between the tabletop and the heating element to trap the heat. To make your kotatsu even more efficient, use a heat-reflecting mat directly under the element.
- Kerosene heater. Most apartments allow kerosene heaters. These are the cheapest way to heat your apartment in the winter, but remember to keep your home well-ventilated and your kerosene well and safely stocked.
- Space heaters.
- Electric carpet.
- Electric blanket.
- Humidifier. Ah, bitter irony.
- Storable laundry rack.
- Portable gas stove and nabe pot. One way to keep warm and healthy during the winter is to eat nabe. You can cook it at your kotatsu with a portable stove. The boiling broth will help heat and humidify your apartment, too.