So let's get started!
Some basic information, I live in a small, 6-tatami, 1R apartment. I don't consider it a matchbox, unless you think of the shape haha. It has an entryway, wood flooring, a spacious closet, and an okay sized balcony. I'm kind of spartan when it comes to my humble abodes, so the size is actually quite nice for me. I don't have a bunch of stuff except for clothes.
So my kitchen is located in the hallway on the way to the main room. It is not really even a kitchen. More like a sink and stove. Haha. I'm lucky I even have a burner. A lot of the 1R apartments don't have one, and tenants have to buy a hot plate instead. The table with the kettle etc., is to the left of the 'kitchen.' Across the hall is my closet. I'm not about to clean out my closet to take a picture, so sorry. However, it is pretty big. Which is lucky. To give you an idea on size, it has two shelves. I can keep BOTH of my large suitcases on the top shelf, and have a set of shelves underneath too. I'll just say closet size is hit or miss.
Here is my washer. It's inside!!! Yay! So, it's pretty decent and has this auto setting so I just push two buttons when I use it. I also have a nice little bar above it so if it's raining, I can hang clothes there to dry if needed. I believe a lot of these 1R apartments have the washer on the balcony outside.
The last picture I will show is of my tiny bathroom. It's pretty standard. My bathtub is really small. I don't have any issues with it.
So now I will answer a few questions I have been asked.
1. Drying laundry outside. It really isn't a big deal. When I finish my laundry, I put things on hangers etc., and put them on a metal pole on my balcony. I think a lot of Americans get nervous about air drying clothes because we are so used to using machine dryers. But honestly, air drying keeps your clothes in better shape. I don't have as much wear and tear. And if it's a really sunny day, when you bring the clothes in, they smell like the sun. If you don't like it, then buy some Febreeze (sold at any Don Quixote). I get my work clothes dry cleaned. I suppose if you REALLY didn't want to air dry your stuff, you could find a laundromat.
2. No central heating in the winter. It wasn't an issue for me. My air conditioning unit is also a heater. The apartment is so small, that it heats up/cools off pretty quickly. Usually, what I do is when I get home from work, if I need it, I turn it on, and then take a shower. By the time I finish the room is very cool/warm. There is also a timer I can set for the unit to turn off. So I usually set it for one or two hours when I go to bed, and it will turn off. In the winter, the apartment gets really cold. But once I'm in bed, I warm up under the covers. I keep the remote near me so that in the morning I can turn it on.
3. Water heating. I have no idea what water heating is. My hot water is heated by an external gas unit outside. Which is great because I don't need to worry about gas leaks in the actual apartment.
4. Bugs? What bugs? I know some people who hear about crazy cockroach infestations. I know someone who had it. But my apartment is bug free. A spider every once in a while, but never a cockroach. I think the cockroaches tend to invade older buildings, and mine is pretty new. I have seen the nasty critters outside the apartment in the hallway though.
5. Matchbox. Again, like I said at the beginning, I don't think of my apartment as a matchbox size. It is small, yes, but these apartments are designed for single people, and more for sleeping and eating than hanging out. If I invited some people to my apartment, it would be a tight fit for more than three or four. I spend more time outside of it than in it. If I tried to live with another person, it would be very tight.
Overall, I am very happy with my apartment. I hope this helps answer questions that foreigners coming to live in Japan have about the 1R apartments here.