Apart (Apartment) (アパート)

Apart' is a collective housing building, whose inner space is divided into multiple pieces and each one of them is destined as an independent house for rent.
It is a Japanese-English word derived from the English word 'apartment.'

Within the same category of cooperative dwelling, relatively large-sized and elegant-looking complexes are often called 'mansion.'

In Japan, Dojunkai Apartment were constructed after the Great Kanto Earthquake.
This reinforced concrete collective housing had a relatively high quality among the urban dwellings at that time, however later on, low-quality wooden collective houses also came to be called 'apart.'
Some of the collective housings began to use 'mansion' (which originally meant 'residence') as their generic name in order to differentiate themselves from the so called 'apart.'

In the real-estate business, the name 'apart' is commonly used for the construction that has a timber structure (construction) or a light-gauge steel (LGS) structure. On the other hand, 'mansion' refers to a construction that has a reinforced concrete structure, steel-reinforced concrete (SRC) structure, steel-framed structure or the architecture that has some other structure.

In these constructions, the sound generated within a room tends to be transmitted easily to other rooms, due to the nature of corrective housing. The noise often becomes the cause of trouble between the next-door neighbors, but in addition, other cases of trouble are also reported, for example, water leaks or fires can spread to houses next door or downstairs.

However, in Okinawa, which was once under the rule of U.S. forces and has few wooden or steel-framed houses from the beginning due to its climate, the reinforced concrete collective housing is generally called 'apart' as well, and the term 'mansion' is mainly used to refer to the high-rise housings constructed in recent years by the capital of Japan's mainland.

Japanese 'apart'
It is generally a low-rise building, such as a two-story building, and is made of wood or steel-reinforced concrete (SRC). Mansion' can be a low-rise, mid-to-high-rise, high-rise or even superhigh-rise apartment housing, without no distinction by the number of stories, but as a general understanding, the general term 'mansion' refers to a mid-to-high-rise or high-rise building constructed for dwelling.

In terms of scale of building, size of the site and the number of houses, compared with the general concept of 'mansion' above mentioned, an 'apart,' in general, is a low-rise and small-scale building with 2 or 3 stories and is seldom equipped with an elevator.

According to the Building Standards Act, in addition to those which are also classified as cooperative complex together with 'mansion,' there are those which are categorized as tenement even though they have 2 or more stories, and they are differentiated by whether or not a common corridor is required to construct within the building.
(In case of a complex, without passing a common corridor, one have no access to an individual house.)

As an old-fashioned expression, an 'apart' with less than 2 stories is sometimes called 'copo' (derived from cooperative housing). In the Kansai region, the apartment equipped with an individual water facilities (sanitation) was called 'bunka-jutaku' (cultural housing).

Geshukuya (lodging house) and no bathroom 'apart'

There is a form of housing named 'geshukuya' (lodging house), which are not commonly seen nowadays, and at one time in the past, they were used by many students. There, in principle, the owner who serves as a manager of the lodging lives together with the lodgers, and each lodger lives in an individual room within the house. Generally, they have a communal lavatory, bathroom, and kitchen, and in some cases they also board. The rent in general tends to be affordable.

The lodging business is categorized as a hotel management business controlled by the Hotel Business Act, and it consists of providing an accommodation facility, receiving an accommodation charge per month or more longer span, and lodging the people (Hotel Business Act: Article 2, Section 5).

It is thought that the first 'apart' was developed from such a lodging house room into an independent dwelling with an entry attached to each room. The common form of 'apart' constructed from 1945 to 1965 consisted of a common entrance, an inside passage, no bathroom (lodgers used a public bathhouse), and a communal latrine, kitchen and laundry. In some of the old type 'apart,' even the mailbox and dining room were also communal, and the individual room was tended to be considered as a space only to sleep and relax.

Such an old type collective dwelling appears also in popular comics, such as 'Yojohan Series' (series of four-and-a-half-mat room stories) ("Otoko Oidon" (I am a Man), etc.) by Reiji MATSUMOTO.
In the comics 'Dokushin Apartment Dokudamiso' (apartment for bachelors: Dokudamiso) by Takashi FUKUTANI, the scene represent exactly this type of 'apart.'
Many cartoonists who flourished since the mid-Showa period may have had experience living in a lodging house or an 'apart' at some point in the past, because being a comic artist was not a profitable business at that time.
(→See 'Tokiwa-so')

Another type of cheap lodging house is called 'doya' and many of them can be seen in the districts where there are job brokers for day workers. Most of them have individual two- or three-mat rooms and they represent the features of the 'apart' in old days.

Since around 2005, this type of accommodation seems to have gained attention as a cheap lodging house among people from rural areas, who come up to the Tokyo metropolitan area empty-handed to seek a job. Derived from as a continuation of internet cafes and video shops with private compartments, there appeared the facilities called 'rest box,' which provide an individual room within a building, after modifying it to look like a guesthouse.
There are building owners who do not accept the use of their buildings as lodging facilities, saying 'we will keep our rental office business.'
However, according to an Asahi Shinbun newspaper story of July 11, 2005, some of the companies belonging to the businesses that need to ensure a certain amount of labor force, such as building cleaning service and demolition work, have succeeded in securing the labor force by refurbishing their own buildings into cheap accommodations and installing multiple-deck beds and others, in a business district which has been traditionally the blank area of laborers, because its location is beyond the workers' commutable range.

Apartments in England. In Europe, where the ground is rock-solid, the population influx to the urban areas in the 19th century, induced by the Industrial Revolution, triggered the development of apartment houses in order to provide the workers with living places, and those buildings constructed at that time have been conserved and still used today, although they underwent renovations.

Since apartment houses in England were originally 2- or 3- story buildings and constructed along the streets without leaving any space between the next-door buildings as if they were forming one single belt, and therefore, the extension of the buildings was inevitably done only in a vertical direction. As a result, wooden or mortar-walled collective housings with 4 or 5 stories are commonly seen in London City, and among them there are buildings currently used as a dwelling house, shop, or a lodging establishment such as B&B (abbreviation of bread and breakfast), after their ownership had changed various times.

Among these apartments, it is said that there are houses that are made up of multiple apartments with different address numbers jointed together, by removing their side walls, and on the other hand, there are the buildings that are divided into two by a partition wall to make two houses.

[Original Japanese]