As we mentioned recently, home life in Japan is a little bit different than in Western countries. Really, it's all about the small things: separated bathrooms, kitchen appliances, shopping experiences, and so on. Fortunately, most apartments are large enough and comfortable enough in the majority of metropolitan areas. However, foreign residents in Tokyo may experience a few cramped surprises:

As you can see, although Emma's apartment has two separate floors, it is rather tiny. In a room where she can simultaneously touch both walls, she has figured out a few workarounds for the tight space. She creatively-arranged a workspace and even managed to put together a place for yoga. It certainly must've taken some getting used to, but eventually, it seems it started to feel like home.

However, numerous other residents have even more shocking abodes that they call home. While some are cramped, others are indisputably nontraditional.

An Abandoned School

Personally, I can't imagine living in this first home without recalling the countless hours I spent as a teen playing Silent Hill—definitely not getting any sleep on foggy nights.

Yohei lives in an abandoned school in the mountains of Shikoku. As rural areas are experiencing population collapse, 15 years ago, the school ran out of students and shut down. It remained abandoned until the young musician put it to good use.

Yohei is a native of nearby Eihime, where he worked several years as a typical office worker. Yet, as many experience, the job was a bad fit for him. He traded that life for the isolation and independence of nature. These days, he lives by himself in the abandoned school and can do as he pleases and make as much noise as he wants in the meantime.

Day by day, Yohei makes a living operating a cafe in a repurposed room on the first floor of the school and operating a hostel. He roasts his own coffee beans while aiming to create the perfect pour. Despite the isolated location, he actually attracts a lot of customers and backpackers during certain parts of the year. Most of the patrons are attracted to the nearby attractions and stop by for refreshments.

Others come for a jam. Quite the carpenter, Yohei has converted several of the abandoned rooms into living quarters, a lounge, and even a full-fledged studio. Bandmates come to practice, jam, and enjoy the amenities this unusual home has to offer.

Glass House

You know what they say: people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. That adage couldn’t ring more true for this unique home located in Hiroshima, Japan.

This stunningly beautiful house is located on a busy street next to commercial real estate. As you can see, the inside of this designer house is breathtaking. It has a particular zen type of feel, but it still seems removed enough from the outside world to ensure one's privacy. And of course, the way the sun streams into the house on sunny days is truly breathtaking.

As it turns out, this optical glass house is the creation of famed architect, Hiroshi Nakamura. The structure includes some 6,000 pure glass blocks, and is reportedly entirely private. It also includes a fantastic garden that is visible from every room in the house.

Micro Apartments

While Emma seems to have adjusted nicely to her cozy apartment, she is certainly not alone. Other residents in Japan are investing in the trend: fantastically designed tiny homes and apartments are available in which every square inch is made use of.

Owing to dense city centers and incredible real estate prices, micro-apartments are a common sight in Tokyo. These structures are very narrow, often crammed into the space of a single parking lot. Designers manage this architectural achievement by getting very creative with storage space and the like.

Indeed, the Ququri real estate company experiences perennially high-demand for its tiny apartments. Comprising 11 square meters of space, they come equipped with the necessities like a shower room and kitchenette. These rooms are also cheaper to rent as they forego burdensome moving in fees like the expensive "key money" required for most apartments in Japan. As such, these tiny apartments are particularly popular among young people, perhaps moving to the big city for the first time.

By - Luke Mahoney.