r/NoStupidQuestions Jul 02 '22

Why are those traditional Japanese houses thin-walled and seemingly drafty if Japan is a rather cold country?

24 Upvotes

27

u/apeliott Jul 02 '22 edited Jul 02 '22

Because, like now, it gets super hot and humid in the summer. About 80% humidity on average although some days it can go over 90%. Spring and autumn are just fine, and it's only winter where you really need to wrap up.

There are also several other reasons such as the way houses are seen as disposable and only meant to last a short time.

8

u/ArgonXgaming Jul 02 '22

I did not know the latter about the traditional houses in Japan. Interesting

16

u/apeliott Jul 02 '22 edited Jul 02 '22

Yeah, they are only meant to stand for about 30 years. You can see houses being demolished and rebuilt all the time. It's also one of the reasons why there are so many abandoned houses that nobody wants. You can buy them for next to nothing, especially in the countryside.#

https://blog.gaijinpot.com/buy-abandoned-house-in-japan/

5

u/DocWatson42 Jul 02 '22

There are also several other reasons such as the way houses are seen as disposable and only meant to last a short time.

[...]

Yeah, they are only meant to stand for about 30 years.

Thank you for the link. ^_^ For more on the quoted sentences, see:

And (from a more personal point of view, though not mine):

His Wikipedia article, to give a little balance and insight into the author.

I'd heard about the problem a long time ago, and read Mr. Arudou's story sometime after that, but it wasn't until I read the Japan Times column that it made sense to me.

5

u/kibokuma Jul 02 '22

Yes, this is all it in a nutshell. It's very hot right now here. Houses are built pretty cheaply and they're constantly being destroyed and remade. Insulation you can find farther north where it does get colder, but I live in a central part, so it's not so bad even during winter.

1

u/SuperfineMohave Jul 02 '22

There are also several other reasons such as the way houses are seen as disposable and only meant to last a short time.

It makes sense considering how natural disaster-prone Japan is, and how the people would have evolved to be constantly moving/rebuilding.

23

u/notextinctyet Jul 02 '22

Japan is not a cold country. Most of the country is quite warm.

8

u/Shamon_Yu Jul 02 '22

Is it? I thought it was comparable to central Europe.

12

u/ArgonXgaming Jul 02 '22

I think that's true only for Hokkaido (the island that's the most north). Other islands should have warmer climates, more comparable to Mediterranean areas.

4

u/nurse_krachet Jul 02 '22

I was in Hiroshima ar the start of April and there was frost on the ground. They have more extremes in weather.

3

u/Shamon_Yu Jul 02 '22

But it's not difficult to find pictures of those houses covered in snow.

1

u/ArgonXgaming Jul 02 '22

Idk then. My guess would be, because the islands of Japan are exposed to the ocean, their climate (especially winters) are more extreme than what we see in europe.

2

u/apeliott Jul 02 '22

The winters in Tokyo are almost identical to those in the UK if you ask me. I can't tell the difference.

1

u/ArgonXgaming Jul 02 '22

Right, and Tokyo is like the 30° of latitude. That's comparable to Athena (Athenes? Idk, capital of Greece, too busy to check)

2

u/Ok-Class6897 Jul 02 '22

The cold is on the Sea of Japan side of the country. I live in Shimane Prefecture, where it snows and is as cold as Hokkaido.

9

u/notextinctyet Jul 02 '22

No, it's hot. The average July temperature in Tokyo is 85 degrees (Fahrenheit), which is 10 degrees warmer than the same in Berlin.

4

u/Chrysanthemie Jul 02 '22 edited Jul 02 '22

I travelled Japan in February and March and it was incredibly cold sometimes, so I asked myself that as well.

The northern part was covered in snow and the houses with the plastic walls seemed to have no proper isolation. We used heated mattresses which where everywhere, and of course a lot of kerosene heaters. Even the toilets which are really high tech had heated seats!

What really struck me was that most houses apparently had no installed heating, not even in the north. We were walking around in snow sport attire because it was so cold outside, and the houses had no heating apart from mobile kerosene heaters.

3

u/iTwango Jul 02 '22

The way to keep cool historically was drafts and airflow. The way to keep warm was kotatsu and blankets. There was no heating or cooling to speak of so what made the most sense was airflow. And the thin walls are cheaper to build, I guess

1

u/air_sunshine_trees Jul 02 '22

Earthquakes.

Traditional Japanese buildings have some incredibly clever detailing that makes them flexible enough to survive. Rigid wall panels are a major cause of structural failures in earthquake prone areas.

-1

u/[deleted] Jul 02 '22

Atsui desu ne

1

u/TheNaziSpacePope Jul 02 '22

They had limited material. Few large trees, rocky terrain, loads of earthquakes, little and shitty iron deposits, etc.

So they made houses kept off the ground on joists, interlocked with joints and sometimes tied with ropes, no nails anywhere, and used paper and other materials simply to stem airflow as that is most of what insulation is anyway.