And it has a community DIY workroom!

Unusual communal living spaces, like the apartment building with a movie theater inside, are trending in Japan right now, and honestly, we’re all for it! We’ve been going around Tokyo checking out cool places to live, and we recently found a complex that’s great for people who love DIY projects and the outdoors.

It’s called Irodori no Mori, and it’s a 57-year-old complex that was just renovated in February of 2020. Situated on expansive grounds, it has plenty of room for enjoying the outdoors. There’s even a community vegetable garden! Of course, we had to go check it out.

It’s located about 15 minutes on foot from Ayase Station in Adachi Ward in northwestern Tokyo, which is serviced by the JR Joban Line and the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, giving it easy access to central Tokyo. Irodori no Mori is composed of several reinforced concrete, four-story buildings that were built in 1964, offering a total of 48 apartments for rent.

When we went to take a look, what we were most interested in were the shared spaces, because we kind of dig that community living style, and that’s what drew us to this complex. Naturally, what we saw first was the expansive grounds, which are pretty unusual for Tokyo living. They were full of wild-growing grass and vivid greenery, giving the complex a very rural feel. There was even a shared garden, where residents can rent a plot and grow their own vegetables.

If you don’t know anything about gardening, that’s okay too, because the community often holds household gardening classes and also offers community gardening tools to make it easy to jump in.

Dotted around the grounds were also lots of little spaces like this one for enjoying the outdoors, places where you can barbecue or even take a metal drum bath like the olden days.

There was even a drum by one of the storage sheds…possibly for that very purpose!

Speaking of the storage sheds, there were two adorable log-cabin-style sheds. We first checked out “Irodori Cabin 1”.

The inside was filled with barbecue equipment and camping supplies!

Grills, tents, chairs, tongs…everything you need to enjoy the good old outdoors was in there. A lot of Japanese homes lack the space to store camping and other outdoor equipment, so the fact that this complex offers them to borrow was super nice.

Irodori Cabin 2 next door was filled with lots of tools for DIY projects. What’s more, a professional carpenter who lives in one of the apartments actually offers DIY classes once a month. Unlike other apartments, you’re allowed to change the interior of the room if you let them know ahead of time, so this is a great place for people who love DIY home deocration projects.

After exploring the outdoor spaces, we went to check out one of the available rooms. Each of the stairwells in the complex was painted with different colors. We climbed the purple stairs, and on the way we saw a flyer for a newly opened “Shared Workshop”. Living there sounded pretty fun!

The room we looked at was a 37.4 square meter (402.6 square foot) 2DK apartment, meaning it had two rooms and a separate kitchen with space for a dining area. Compared to many Tokyo apartments, that’s a lot of space!

▼ The floor plan. “J” indicates the number of tatami mats that could fit in the room, which are roughly 1.82 square meters (19.6 square feet) each.

The door, like the stairwell, was painted purple.

The interior was apparently freely decorated by the previous tenant and had been left as-is for the next tenant to do what they like with. Once inside, we could see that some work had been done on the apartment.

The walls were painted with lots of different colors.

Every room had a different feel.

The floors were made of Yakushima cedarwood, and looked very clean and beautiful. Apparently, tenants can paint the plywood walls any color they like. They can even put screws in the walls, which is a rarity for most rentals.

The previous tenant clearly had lots of ideas about how to customize their apartment, judging by the many different colors used throughout. When a new tenant moves in, they’ll have the choice of either leaving it as-is or changing it to suit their own style.

The bathroom, however, was largely undecorated, but it looked really nice.

It was simple, yet functional.

This particular room was a south-facing room, so it got plenty of light and was nice and bright inside. The only issue we found was that it had very limited storage, so you either have to DIY your own or make use of the little closet outside on the veranda.

The rent for this apartment was 93,000 yen, plus a maintenance fee of 10,000 yen, for a total of 103,000 yen per month (US$836.35), which is cheaper than a studio apartment in most areas of Tokyo. With the added benefit of a completely customizable living space, communal gardens, regular workshops, community tools and camping and barbecue gear, it seems like a pretty good deal!

Plus, if you’re a social person, it provides plenty of opportunities to get to know your neighbors, so it’s definitely an apartment worth checking out if you’re looking for a new place to live in the Tokyo area.

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