Tokyo offers a wide variety of housing options. For young couples, singles who work remotely and desire a dedicated space for a home office, or singles who want a little extra space, Japan’s 2LDK apartment layout is often ideal.
What does “2LDK” mean?
The Japanese tend to like details, and the jargon describing a typical Japanese-style apartment is no exception. The layout of two-bedroom apartments in Japan is typically called 2LDK.
The term means an apartment with one relatively large room that serves multiple purposes as a combined living room (L), dining room (D), and kitchen (K), along with two separate bedrooms.
The size of a 2LDK can vary, although such apartments normally encompass approximately 50 to 80 square meters (538 to 861 square feet).
Half-Living Room Layout
The most basic design divides the overall floor plan into roughly equal quarters. It is called the “half-living room type” or hafu ribingu gata (ハーフリビング型) in Japanese.
The dual-purpose living / dining room and a single bedroom are located on the balcony side. These two rooms normally have relatively large windows, allowing for a well-ventilated living environment.
There is another bedroom on the common passage side, but this room is accessible immediately from the entrance, which provides a high degree of privacy and makes it easy to separate it from the room on the balcony side.
If the room on the balcony side has a movable wall or sliding door between it and the living room, it can be opened up to expand the usable space of the living / dining room.
Thus, this versatile layout can be used as a spacious 1LDK for a single person, a double-income-no-kids (DINKs) couple, or a couple with a baby or a young child. For families, the room on the balcony side is close to the living room and can be used as a children’s room.
Full-Living Room Layout
A popular variant is called the “full-living room type” or furu ribingu gata (フルリビング型) in Japanese.
The primary characteristic of this design is that the dual-purpose living/dining room area fills the entire back of the apartment along the balcony. This floor plan is often seen in condominiums for sale.
It tends to open up the apartment and give the illusion of having a little extra space. This floor plan is recommended for those who prioritize the comfort of the living room over the size of the bedrooms.
Because this floor plan prioritizes the comfort of the living room, the two bedrooms are often on the common passage side and may not have any windows.
Like the half-living room layout, if the bedroom closest to the living room has movable walls, it can be combined as needed with the living room, creating a more spacious LDK.
Thus, this versatile layout can be used as a spacious 1LDK for a single person, DINKs, or a couple with a baby or a young child. For families, the room on the balcony side is close to the living room and can be used as a children’s room.
Bedroom Priority Room Layout
Another option is the “bedroom priority room type” or shinshitsu yusen gata (寝室優先型) in Japanese.
This layout positions both bedrooms in the back of the apartment along the balcony. It is often seen in small-scale rental apartments. The layout emphasizes the comfort of the bedrooms rather than the living room.
In this type, there is no hallway, and in some patterns, the LDK is directly accessible from the entrance.
Because the entrance to the two bedrooms is via the dual-purpose living/dining room, it is easy for residents to communicate with each other, making it a particularly user-friendly floor plan for shared rooms and families. It is also suitable for couples or DINKs who want their own private rooms.
Side-by-Side Room Layout
Another option is the “side-by-side room type” or yoko narabi gata (横並び型) in Japanese.
This type is recommended for those seeking comfort in the living and dining rooms. This floor plan has more space in the horizontal direction than depth.
All major rooms face the balcony, so every room is comfortable. Some have a hallway.
Furthermore, if the wall between the living/dining room and the two bedrooms is a movable wall or sliding door, there will be more possibilities for making the apartment seem more spacious. In that case, a portion of the apartment can be converted into a 1LDK room or a studio simply by opening up a wall.
This type of floor plan meets the needs of various tenants, from single people, couples, DINKs, families, and even people who share the apartment but require their own bedroom. Floor plans such as this with more space horizontally than depth tend, however, to be few and far between.
Maisonette-Style Room Layout
Finally, while not as common, sometimes you will find the “maisonette-style room type” or mezonetto gata (メゾネット型) in Japanese.
The dwelling units are divided into upper and lower sections. This is a two-story layout with a staircase inside the dwelling unit.
This type is often seen in designer apartments. Relatively small, maisonette-style 2LDK apartments are, however, sometimes incorporated into low-rise rental apartments. This design is often used in terrace houses like so-called row houses.
In such cases, the layout generally consists of a water supply for both the kitchen and bath as well as the dual-purpose living/dining room on one level with the bedrooms on the other level (usually the upper floor).
Cost of a 2LDK Apartment in Japan
While rent will, naturally, be determined by location, size, age of the dwelling, etc, the 2LDK layout is popular, and inventory tends to be plentiful.
Recently, there was a listing for a 58.07 square meter (625 square feet) 2LDK apartment with a “full living room layout” only a 6-minute walk from Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo, which is popular with young adults, that was quoted at 264,000 yen + 10,000 yen (management fees) = 274,000 yen (US $1,811) per month.
In Osaka, there was a listing for a 58.92 square meter (634 square feet) 2LDK apartment with a “side-by-side room layout” with two small balconies only a 4-minute walk from Umeda Station that was on the market for 170,000 yen + 10,000 yen (management fees) = 180,000 yen (US $1,190) per month.
In Fukuoka, there was a listing for a 60.52 square meter (651 square feet) 2LDK apartment with a “half living room layout” only a 10-minute walk from Ogori Park that was listed at 134,000 yen + 6,000 yen (management fees) = 140,000 yen (US $925) per month.
While available in a variety of layouts, 2LDK apartments often provide just the right amount of space and privacy for couples and single people who want a dedicated office space from which to work remotely from home. At the end of the day, the decision will most likely depend on a combination of location, budget, and personal preference.
The good thing is that—particularly in the big cities—there are always many options for apartments in this size range, and rents tend to be reasonable.