It is a well-known fact that Japanese homes are small, in particular those in the big cities. I can consider myself lucky that I can afford a nice apartment with 60 square meters, which does meet all my storage needs so far. In all my rooms except the kitchen/dining room, I have what is called an oshiire, a large closet that is 80 cm deep and as high as the room. The name literally means “to push/shove in”, and in the olden days, when everybody still slept on a futon, they were mainly used to store the family’s bedding during the day.

The oshiire in my apartment have two large compartments at the bottom that reach up to about 175 cm, and another smaller one on top of that reaching to the ceiling. Because I am rather short, this is where I store things I don’t need often; in case of the oshiire in my bedroom, I put my out-of season clothing up there, as well as currently unused bedding and linens etc.

I guess I have to confess that I’m a bit stingy – I avoid buying stuff that I don’t strictly need, for example if I already own something that can be repurposed, I’d rather go with that cheap option. In the case of boxes to put in my unused clothes, I simply used the moving boxes they came in 5 years ago – a perfectly good solution. Or so it seems, until you find out that those boxes are rather large (around 1/4 of a cubic metre for the big ones) and can weigh up to 20 kilos. And it’s no fun to lift them up over your head while balancing on a stool so you can push them into the top of that oshiire…

I am nothing but stubborn, so I did that for two of these large boxes – 40 kilos in total – twice a year in spring and late autumn. But now, the time has come, I’ve finally had enough of this, especially as the moving boxes are now finally breaking apart anyway – that’s me dropping them every now and then because they got too heavy to balance over my head.

So, after 5 years of living here I have given in and bought rather standard plastic storage boxes that are half the size and thus much easier to handle and lift, while still fitting all of what I need to pack away each season. I’m feeling mightily accomplished and like a real adult! Here’s the before and after – I’m wondering what’s next on my list of adult things to buy…

storage boxes before and after