Off of our LDK (that's Living, Dining, Kitchen for those of you who haven't be perusing any Japanese apartment classifieds lately - we live in a 2LDK +tatami room) we have 2 porches. One of which is too small to get any use by anything other than our burnable trash. The other porch is used for drying laundry. When the laundry is dry, the poles slide out, and the side arms bend in and out of the way, creating more space.
Even with the poles out of the way, porches aren't used as an entertaining space here, they are mainly a functional space - like for the daily airing out of your sleeping futon!