Traditional Japanese housing does not have a designated utility for each room aside from the entrance area (genkan, 玄関), kitchen, bathroom, and toilet. Any room can be a living room, dining room, study, or bedroom. This is possible because all the necessary furniture is portable, being stored in oshiire, a small section of the house used for storage.
Somewhat similar to modern offices, partitions within the house are created by fusuma, sliding doors made from wood and paper, which are portable and easily removed. Fusuma seal each partition from top to bottom so it can create a mini room within the house.
For large gatherings, these partitions are removed to create one large meeting room. During a normal day, partitions can create much smaller and more manageable living spaces. Therefore, kitchen, bathroom, toilet, and genkan with one multipurpose living space create one complete Japanese housing unit. However, the bathroom, toilet, and even kitchen can be communal.
One characteristic of a Japanese home is the genkan, or entryway. It includes a small area, at the same level as the outside, where arriving people remove their shoes. As they take off their shoes, people step up onto a raised floor. They point the tips of their shoes to the outside. The rest of the residence is at the raised level of this floor. Adjacent to the lower floor is a shelf or cabinet called a getabako in which people may place their shoes. Slippers for wear in the home are also stored there.
The toilet in Japanese housing is located away from the bathroom and separate from it. It usually is in a small stall-like room with only the toilet in it. When entering the bathroom, one traditionally replaces their house slippers with plastic "toilet" slippers, swapping back when exiting the bathroom.
The modern Japanese kitchen features appliances such as a stove, a narrow fish grill (broiler), and an electric refrigerator. The stovetop may be built-in or may be a self-contained unit on a counter-top, and it is usually gas-burning, although recently induction heating (IH) stovetops have become popular. Common units of all types of stoves include two or three burners. Broilers designed for cooking fish are usually part of the stove and are located below, and unlike many Western-style grills, are not full width. Built-in ovens large enough to bake or roast are uncommon; in their place, work-top multifunction microwave ovens are used. Many kitchens have electric exhaust fans. Furnishings commonly include microwave ovens, hot water boilers, and...