Japanese apartments can be small, and kitchens in Japanese apartments can be much smaller than what you are used to at home. Here are some inexpensive ideas for organizing a small Japanese kitchen.
Make more space by storing your plates vertically. Plastic file boxes and catch-all bins from the ¥100 shop can dramatically increase your kitchen storage space.
¥100 A4-paper-sized and Compact Disc (CD, remember those?)-sized plastic bins can help create more space by enabling you to store your dishes vertically. Photo: kaumo.jp
Make Your Own Racks
If you live in a rental, your lease will almost always say that you are not allowed to put nails, screws, or glue in and on your walls. At the same time, Japanese kitchens almost never come with even a single metal bar or rack on which you can hang a dish towel or a pot. You can get around this making a simple rack using supplies that you can find from a ¥100 shop.
The Japanese source for this idea claims that these racks were made using materials found at a ¥100 shop. We've never seen a shelving kit like this at our local ¥100 shop, but small plywood pieces and nails are certainly available at home improvement/DIY stores. This could be a fun weekend project for you handymen and handy women out there. Photo: Iemo.jp
Your Friend: The Hook
You can buy a wide-variety of useful hooks at ¥100 shops for organizing your apartment. One of the most versatile is the suction-cup hook which works well on tile and metal surfaces (like your fridge).
A well-organized kitchen in a typical studio apartment kitchen! Note that the hooks on the wall are suction cup-style hooks, available at ¥100 yen shops. Photo: Roomclip.jp
S-Hooks are also very versatile.
Don't Forget to Use the Inside of Your Cabinet Door(s)
This next tip does require you to use sticky hooks, but you actually can use a gentle soap and water solution to clean up any marks when you move out.
Increase Your Counter Space
You may have noticed that Japanese kitchens (especially in studio apartments) do not come with a lot of counter space. You can increase your counter space a lot by buying a cutting board that fits over sink. Over-the-sink drying racks will also help you create more space. Both are available from places like Amazon.co.jp and Rakuten.
In a well-organized kitchen, everything has a place. One way to do this is to give everything its own compartment, of course.
This is the freezer compartment of a hyper-organized cook. Smaller serving-size items are stored separately in ziplock bags that are labeled with binder clips. Even the popsicles have their own containers, which are made from the bottoms of 2-L PET bottles. Photo: fc2.com
Do you have any creative ideas for organizing a small japanese kitchen? Please share them below!