I have enjoyed my time living in Japan but obviously not everything is the same as in the US. There are appliances in Japan that I use in my daily life that would be surprising to any American at first. Here are the few of most interesting things.


Ovens in Japan are basically a stovetop with a small grill underneath to cook fish. They can be built into the counter or a free standing applicance.The free standing ones are small and can be easily moved. They can be electric,gas, or propane. The one that I have uses propane. You use push down on a button for the burner you want to use and can adjust the heat using a dial. Since Japan is prone to earthquakes, people turn off the gas/propane for their ovens when not in use.The reason there is no “oven” part is that most people in Japan don`t bake so there is little need for a full American style oven. If people want to bake they will use their microwave which usually doubles as a toaster oven. Any other cooking is done using a rice cooker. similarly to how we use a crockpot. I once tried baking a cake in a ricecooker, the best I can say is that is was edible.

Picture of Japanese Oven
Matthew.eyes, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons


In Japan, there are plenty of high tech washing machines but when it comes to drying clothes things are bit old fashioned. If you visit Japan, you will see laundry hanging to dry from apartment balconies on sunny days. In the winter or on a rainy day, you can hang your clothes in a room and turn on the heater. Dryers are not common in Japan due to them taking up a lot of space and being considered noisy. Alot of people in Japan live in small apartments with thin wall so it is difficult to have a dryer. If you would like to dry your clothes quickly, there are laundry mats with large dryer. There are also washing machines that double as dryers but I heard they don`t work very well.

Picturing of clothes and futons being hung out to dry off of a balcony
Jim Epler, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


There is a kind of toilet in Japan called the Washlets, they are really cool. Washlets are eletronic bidets. Washlets have lot of different buttons on them from a bidet button to button that makes nature noises while you go to the bathroom.There is also usually a sink on the back of toilet that you can wash your hands with after you flush. Most homes in Japan have a washlet in their home. Using a regular US toilet seems so boring after using a futuristic Japanese toilet. However, in some public places there are still squat toilets which are basically a porcelain hole in the ground. You have to squat to use them, hence the name. I try to avoid them at all costs.


A Japanese teacher laughed when I told her that my favorite thing about Japan was the Kotatsu. I meant it. Kotatsu are like coffee tables but they have a heating element underneath and comes with a blanket to keep the heat from escaping. Don`t worry about burning yourself, they have a ceramic grate that does not conduct heat to prevent you from getting burn. In the past, they were charcoal fuled but now they are all electric.Kotatsu are wonderful for laying under during a cold day. I always excited for winter because that means I can use my Kotatsu. Apartments in Japan are not well insulated so a Kotatsu comes in handy during the cold winter months.They even make Kotatsu for cats.

2 thoughts on “Survival Guide to Appliances in Japan

  1. The rice cookers are very complex and have many settings. I lived in Japan for 3+ years, teaching English like you. Had to have a friend train me on the rice cooker and the ac/heater settings in my flat! Loved the kotatsu. Enjoy your time there.

    1. Thanks for the comment!
      Yes, I had to look an English explanation of all the buttons but they are really useful once you get the hang of it. Relaxing on a cold day under a Kotatsu is the best!

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