Flight Partners: Japanese Apartments!

About the Setting of Flight Partners

The Apartment

I know this question is on all of your minds: is Andy and Kenneth’s apartment typical?

Well, yes and no.

Andy and Kenneth live in what’s called a 2LDK–two rooms, plus a living room, dining room, and kitchen. It’s in a large apartment building, or apaato. It features a pretty standard design, from the balcony for drying clothes to the tatami mat room that can be a bedroom or open up to extend the living room. Toilets are separate from bath rooms in all but the cheapest of apartments. Even in small apartments, it’s normal to have a laundry/sink area, like this place features.

 

apartment-black-and-white

Copyright Artemis Fay, 2016

So what isn’t typical? You might have guessed already: it’s the shower opening into the hall. I have seen this in one apartment, and one apartment only. That apartment, unfortunately, was mine.

I lived in Japan for nearly four years, and two of them were spent in an apartment in Okayama where my shower opened directly into my kitchen. So if I had someone over for the weekend, either we needed to be pretty friendly, or one of us had to hang out in the living room with the doors shut while the other bathed. Talk about awkward! Naturally, I included this hilarious detail in the book, just to take the tension a notch higher. It was just too ridiculous to pass up.

In most apartments laid out like this one, the shower would open into that laundry area, but due to earthquake building codes in Andy and Kenneth’s building, it opens into the hall. Alas.

And here it is, colored in.

 

 

apartment-color

Copyright Artemis Fay, 2016

It might seem dark, but remember, the walls are primarily covered in white vinyl wallpaper. The effect ends up looking like this:

 

Photo by Tim Franklin Photography on Flickr. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Photo by Tim Franklin Photography on Flickr. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Actually very bright! That’s because any apartment building worth renting in Japan faces south, for maximum daylight inside. They tend to be very bright an airy, despite the dark floors.

Also, you’ll notice the kitchen cabinets in the background are beige? Almost every Japanese apartment I’ve been in had cabinets that looked identical to that. They’re beige, utilitarian, have minimal counter space, and the top cabinets are too high for most women to reach. Why?

As you’ll hear Andy comment a few times, “Because Japan.”

 

 

Okayama Prefecture, Kurashiki City

Andy and Kenneth live in the prefecture of Okayama. That’s located on the south of the island of Honshu, fronting a narrow strait between it and the island of Shikoku.

 

Okayama prefecture is being pointed to. Screen capture from Google Maps 2016

Okayama prefecture is being pointed to. Screen capture from Google Maps 2016

Specifically, Andy and Kenneth live in the city of Kurashiki. With a population of 477,983 in 2012, this probably seems like a huge place, but in Japan, that’s hardly even a blip. Kurashiki is considered to be a suburb of the larger sister-city of Okayama-shi.

kurashiki-map

Yes, that’s right, almost every location mentioned in Flight Partners is a real place. Aeon Mall, Kurashiki station, the Bikan historical district–all of them are real, and you can visit them! The only places I made up are Code English and the apartment building Andy and Kenneth live in.

How do I know so much about these places? Because I lived there, of course! For two years, I lived and worked in Okayama Prefecture. At one point, Andy and Kenneth will even pass within about ten feet of my old apartment. What can I say, I wrote what I knew.

Follow the link here to explore the neighborhood on Google maps. If you search hard enough, you can find me, standing in front of my apartment and waving. The first person who sends a screen capture of that will get a signed copy of the book shipped right to them. No, really. Click around!

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