„Von besonderer Beschaffenheit ist das landschaftliche Profil dieser überaus fruchtbaren und lang gezogenen Inselkette. Das felsige Hinterland der Hauptinsel Honshu ist schwierig zu bebauen, dicht besiedelt ist seine Pazifikküste und an verschiedenen Buchten dieses Ozeans kommt man vom Küstenstreifen gleich steil ins bergige Land – man steigt sozusagen vom Ufer in die Berge … Japan wirkt wie ein bezaubernder karstiger Riegel vor dem asiatischen Festlandsockel, ein über die Jahrmillionen durch die Tektonik zusammengedrücktes Felsenriff. Dieses Eiland fristet geologisch ein unruhiges Dasein aufgrund der unter ihm durch die Kraft magmatischer Feuerwalzen aus dem Erdinnern sich gegeneinander verschiebender vier größerer Kontinentalplatten. Die modernen Bauvorschriften (keine zentrale Gas-Versorgung, also keine verzweigten Gasleitungen, alleinstehende Häuser, erdbebensichere Bauten – verschärft seit dem verheerenden Erdbeben, das Kobe 1995 zerstörte) passen sich diesen Unsicherheiten an.“ https://japoneseliberty.com/2018/06/06/japanolog/
Traditional houses for local people were made of wood and mud walls, with a wooden or thatched roof (like Jomon houses a very long time ago). No nails were used, and for the purpose of thorough ventilation, houses were equipped with extra space under the floor and over the ceiling. Almost none of these houses survived, mainly due to natural disasters such as fires, earthquakes, or typhoons, but also due to wars and other manmade obstacles to their longevity. And honestly, maintenance of old gorgeous houses is quite a challenge and expensive. Most of the houses along the coastlines are newer buildings from the 20th century. These modern houses follow traditional patterns by constructing a wooden frame on a concrete foundation. On the countryside and in many cities big and small, farming between the houses is everyday’s business and one specialty is a very tough storehouse (Kura 蔵), usually white painted with the family’s Kamon(Sign) and to find almost only on Honshu in wealthy neighborhoods; most beautiful buildings are find in old city quarters like Ponto Cho in Kyoto or Kanazawa; Castles are exeptional because they’re only buildings for War purposes, over centuries usually under siege and often destroyed; Buddhist Temples, Shinto Shrines and very rare some churches are in between, and usually there are local Shrines very close in every neighborhood where people usually go for festivities or at least for New Year (https://t1p.de/b7hu). Old traditions Japanese house owners holding on to their sense of aesthetics and show off with gorgeous walls, rooftops and gardens. Around big cities and along rivers as Tama or Kamo you can see huts of guys who cannot live inside and decided to step away from society – for very personal reasons usually; some people I know off, are living under government protection, all social security and house rent is taking care of by their local administration. Living cost in Japan is high but comparing to other western countries and under the light of an incomparable life quality absolutely acceptable.
Modern houses are reinforced to withstand the danger of earthquakes (each house having its own gas supply for example) and typhoons thanks to modernized regulation, which improved greatly after the earthquake in 1995 that destroyed huge parts of Kobe (阪神・淡路大震災). More party houses and skyscrapers in big cities are extra strong buildings made around steel frame with reinforced concrete. If you rent an apartment you also need to take care for parking space for example. Japanese extraordinary sense for beauty and color is to be seen on their house arrangements and rooftops with nice colorful tiles (my favorite is the blue Kawala, but you don’t see those on Hokkaido or Okinawa). Each house and every apartment having extra space at the entrance and lobby to keep shoes outside. Japanese people love their front yards, and gardening is among their favorite leisure activities, so nearly every house is surrounded by nice greenery. Inside the houses, every measurement follows the dimensions of tatami (the traditional rice mat sized 180×90). Japanese bathing culture is universal and sophisticated, so are their place for bathing at home—and nowhere in the world you will find a more comfortable place to use the bathroom.