Japanese 'Doma' becoming an Increasingly Popular Residential Feature

Many Japanese abodes in 2021 are returning to the roots of traditional residences and adding an earthen floor entryway or incorporating modern variants of the space. Japanese homes already have a small “genkan” entrance area for people to store their shoes before going inside. Now, more apartment buyers are asking for a larger “doma” traditional earthen-floored space, in which they can walk around while wearing footwear and store items for outdoor use.

The demand for doma appears to be related to the boom in people engaging in more outdoor leisure activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic and increased consumer desire to maintain cleanliness in the home by separating spaces. Daiwa House Industry Co. started selling doma-equipped apartments in Kobe in September. Unlike traditional doma, the floor of Daiwa House’s special space, dubbed a Doma Hall, is covered with shiny, white tiles. The 4.45-square-meter doma sits beside the entrance and is connected directly to the restroom and the balcony, allowing residents to wash dirty clothes without bringing them into the living room.

Having a doma also makes it easy to dry clothes indoors because a laundry pole can be set up in the space, so leaving laundry hanging for many hours won’t infringe on daily life. The space can also be used to store sports equipment that children use for school club activities. Another doma bonus is that the shelves in the space can be used for even more storage.

Though Daiwa House previously pitched houses with doma, it is the first time for the company to offer these spaces in apartment housing complexes. Daiwa House said it expects that due to sanitary concerns amid the pandemic, the design of having doma linked directly to the restroom enabling occupants to store items that have become dirty in the space will make apartments with doma much more sought-after.

Four of the five condominiums that the company put up for sale earlier on a trial basis have already been snapped up, underlining their “especially high popularity among young families,” according to a Daiwa House public relations representative. Nomura Real Estate Development Co. in 2017 released apartments with doma in response to requests from buyers who required “a bit wider entrance” or wanted to “store a stroller indoors.” Like Daiwa’s layout, Nomura’s doma has a tile floor and is next to the restroom.

Units with doma have been marketed in three residence complexes in the Kanto region around Tokyo, all of which sold out. Seventeen of the 19 apartments featuring doma put on sale in 2019 in an upscale residential district in Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, have been bought up, proving more popular than regular apartments. Both Daiwa House and Nomura Real Estate Development used the traditional name doma to refer to the specialized space in their newly built condominiums adorned with various modern fittings and display the word “doma” on their floor plans.

“The name is easy to understand and familiar to everyone in Japan,” a Daiwa House representative explained. The number of people who want to install doma in existing apartments started increasing more than five years ago, according to Hankyu Hanshin Properties Corp. Doma floors in the units consist of tiles, concrete and various other materials.

Hankyu Hanshin Properties said demand is on the increase for doma, as more individuals hope to put in the space camping goods that are difficult to keep elsewhere as well as luxury bicycles that might be stolen from communal parking lots of apartment complexes. The company says its sales have been constant and unaffected by the pandemic.

“Our impression is that doma is becoming a standard accessory, and it is not the case that the demand has surged in the coronavirus crisis,” a Hankyu Hanshin Properties representative said.

(Source: The Asahi Shimbun | Pic: Genkan | Michael Cornelius)

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