Appliances in Japan can be a blessing and a curse. We all want them, but they can be pretty frustrating when we don't know how to operate them. Below are a few tips on what to expect when using your appliances. The side bar on the right has a range of instructions for helping you get the most out of your gadgets. Download then by clicking on the image, right click, then save as...

Air con:
Learning to use your air conditioner is one of the first things you'll need to do when you arrive to Sendai in the middle of the summer heat. Many people survive by using the heater on their air con during the winter.

It's a good idea to clean it every now and then. You can do this by vacuuming the filter, or by giving it a thorough clean with air con spray エアコンスプレーwhich can be bought at most supermarkets. Click the can of spray for comprehensive cleaning instructions.


Convection oven/microwave:
Many foreigners who are used to using ovens in their home country opt to purchase a convection microwave. This generally takes up the same amount of space as a microwave, yet it includes the basic functions of an oven as well as a microwave.

While it often takes a bit of trial and error to get it working for you in the same way as an electric oven, it has the added advantage of being able to heat food.

Gas cooker:
Gas cookers supplied by the Board of Education generally have two gas rings, and a fish grill underneath. The gas is fed through a pipe at the back. To turn the gas off the white line should sit sideways.

A gas cooker may refuse to ignite if:
1. The area around the ring is wet or unclean.
2. The batteries on the cooker need changing. In this case, neither of the rings will ignite. The cooker takes size D batteries (単1形 in Japanese-don't use foreign batteries please!) and these can be replaced by opening a small draw to the left of the cooker.

Rice cooker:
Rice cookers are a super easy way to cook rice and keep it warm as well. Most basic rice cookers also come with a timer function, so you can set the cooker ready for rice in the morning, or for when you get home after work.
If you prefer brown rice to white you can cook this instead. This is called genmai or 玄米 in Japanese. Most supermarkets in Japanese also sell small packets with a variation of grains that you can mix in with your white rice. They often contain barley, millet, amaranth, quinoa, wild rice among other grains.


Washing machine:
Washing machines in Japanese studio apartments are only connected to cold taps. For this reason the washing machines eventually get a build up of soap suds and need to be cleaned. Cleaning products can be bought in tablets, powder or liquid form from supermarkets or home ware stores. It is called:

sentakuki cleaner (洗濯槽クリーナ (sentakusou kuri-na - wash tub cleaner)):

Digital Locks:

Many ALT apartments now have digital locks as oppose to the traditional key lock. This is very convenient in the sense you can never lose your key, provided you can remember your code. However, digital locks must have a working battery to function properly so it is very important that you are sure to keep your battery fresh and change it as soon as you see the warning sensor start to blink. See the guide to the left on how to change the battery and reset the code. 

Please see FAQ 4 about what to do if your digital lock stops functioning.

Example of a digital lock battery:

Pipe Anti-Freeze System:

You may find a box similar to the one pictured below on a wall somewhere in your apartment, probably in your kitchen. This box controls the flow of water in your pipes, and because Sendai can get cold enough for pipes to freeze in the winter, many apartments come with a system like this that automatically evacuates the water in the pipes when the temperature falls below a certain level. You probably won`t notice it until January or February when you suddenly hear a gurgling sound followed the water rushing from your pipes. You really don`t have to bother with this box except to turn the water flow back on when you would like to be able to use the water again. Don`t worry about turning it back on, if the water in the pipes sits long enough again and gets cold enough, the machine will empty the pipes again. Please refer to the guide on the right.

Example of a pipe anti-freeze control box:







Click the thumbnail for
air-con instructions

Click the thumbnail for oven instructions













Click the thumbnail for rice cooker instructions

Click the thumbnail for washing machine instructions






Click the thumbnail for digital lock instructions









  Click the thumbnail for pipe anti-freeze system instructions