So, you moved to Japan and found yourself a nice abode to lay your head. Great view, great price, and a great cultural experience.
Here are a few balcony rules that you may not be aware of! Balcony rules and culture vary greatly from country to country, but Japan, as always, is a little… unique.
Although many countries allow balcony barbecues, and in fact market the housing in this way, in Japan this is absolutely out of the question. Fire up a balcony barbecue, and be sure the fire brigade will be called by a neighbour or random good samaritan. Absolutely not. Not ever. No open flame, and surely no smoke. The only exception to this rule is if you cook something that doesn’t smoke, outside, crouched down, on an electric hotplate.
Japanese apartments and condominiums allow, or actually encourage, drying laundry on the balcony. It saves energy and is a great use of sunshine and wind power. But, check your rental contract, some nicer places frown upon outside drying. Despite this, there is a line to be drawn, and that line is the panty line. Most people don’t hang unmentionables outside. Men, or women. Hang that stuff inside. Some newer apartments and condominiums have exhaust fans with clothing drying options to hang your delicates inside. After all, don’t you have any shame?
Don’t put things on the balcony that can easily fly away. No cheap flimsy furniture, no stacks of old newspapers, and no kiddie pools. These things not only pick up in the slightest breeze, but could fly away and hit unsuspecting victims below. Especially for items that can injure people below, or damage items below, you may be held liable for fallen items, even if they were blown away by a strong wind or a typhoon. Before a typhoon, be sure to lay down any tall objects, or put them inside to avoid problems.
Although your house is your own, your balcony is not. Remember, Japan is densely populated, with apartments often built next to one another. Don’t go out in your birthday suit, as is common in some places, because you never know who can see you. Especially from higher up!
Now, go out, enjoy the balcony with a heavy, wind-proof chair and a glass of wine! Just be sure you are not naked, surrounded by drying panties!