3D Archi Designer

Discover Japanese architectural design and culture.

The Japanese Home

Introducing unique architectural features and designs
influenced by Japanese culture.

The Japanese Home Top

Is the Japanese house small?

Is the Japanese house small?

Japanese Home Features

April 6. 2021

Japanese houses are known for being small.
But is that really so?


The size of Japanese real estate is expressed in units called “Tsubo

The Japanese use the “tsubo” as a unit of measurement for the area of homes and properties.
To get the sense of it, 2 tatami mats that you see in a Japanese style-room is equal to 1-tsubo.

1 tsubo = 2 tatami = approximately 3.3m2

Japanese Style Room

In a city, a 40-tsubo size property is common, since Japanese people consider that 40-tsubo is a good size for a single-family with two adults and two children.

40 tsubo = 132.0m2 = 1420.84sqft

However, most cases, 40-tsubo is the property size, not the living area square footage.
Under the building coverage ratio in Japanese law, the area you can build a house is only 20-30-tsubo (710.42-1065.63sqft.) on a 40-tsubo property.
Therefore, it is necessary to build a two or three-story house in order to gain a 40-tsubo living area.

In a 40-tsubo property, a covered garage is also included.
How it works in a city, most houses have a garage on the first floor and the living area will be built on top of it.
In the country-side, there is more land available and 50-tsubo is a good size for a single-family house.


Is a 40-tsubo Japanese house really small?

To make it easier to visualize, let’s compare it to a single-family house size in the US.
The average size of a single-family house in the US is 2500sqft, for a living area and 5000sqft for the property.

Japan Living area: 1420sqft = 132.0m2 = 40-tsubo
Property: 1420sqft = 132.0m2 = 40-tsubo
United States
Living area: 2500sqft = 232.3m2 = 70-tsubo
Property: 5000sqft = 464.5m2 = 140-tsubo

As you see there is a huge difference in size.

It is a fact that the Japanese house is much smaller compared to the house in the US.
Does this mean people in Japan feel their houses are cramped?

Japanese people, with an average height for a 20 to 29 year old male at 171cm (5’7.32 “), and female at 158cm (5’2.2”) are relatively petite, and therefore do not feel cramped.
In conjunction with their petite body size, furniture and equipment are relatively compact as well.
There are relatively few rooms in a Japanese house, with sleeping areas sometimes being used as common family areas during the day.
Typically, a Japanese house only has one full bathroom.
Having a guest room or formal dining room is not common.
The living room is used to entertain family and friends and also a Japanese-style room can also be used for a guest room.

You see many great storage ideas in a Japanese house.
Since the space is limited, when you built a house in Japan, ensuring that you have enough storage space important.
Also, in existing houses, Japanese people come up with great ideas to utilize space for storage.


A Japanese house idea will provide you comfort in a limited area

40-tsubo Japanese house is small?

Yes, indeed.
However, you may not feel cramped to stay in it.
A Japanese house is where you can find great ideas for utilizing space and provide comfort in a limited area.

Are you interested in the idea of 40-tsubo Japanese house?

Back to List