Episode 2 – I’m Here, Now What?

Differences of Accommodation in America and Japan

  1. Abroad – you’re a foreigner so you may be required to provide several documents to verify your identity and ability to pay
  2. Guarantor – a credible Japanese national to co-sign the contract; if you’re working here than it would be the company or someone from there; if you’re studying like me, it was my school’s president
  3. Accommodation – there are different kinds of buildings in Japan that generally fall into 3 categories, traditional, apartment, and mansion.  Traditional are as you guessed it, traditional Japanese styled old buildings; the floor will generally consist of tatami mats, the walls will be very thin and the sliding doors are made from wood and paper thus the outside weather will greatly affect the interior.  An apartment here in Japan are older buildings but more western styled in that they’re taller buildings with thicker walls, proper doors and all.  Mansions as explained earlier are just newer and modern apartments which can also be considered condos.  Just goes to show the cultural progression as time passes on.
  4. Key money – a non-refundable payment to the owner worth around 1 months rent in addition to the deposit, and if you’re using an agent, the commission
  5. Cash – all payments are via cash as Japan is still mainly a cash society; I don’t know if checks are accepted but it isn’t a main form of payment for anything
  6. Size – it is normal to have a small place; for example, my apartment living space is just 100 ft. sq. and my bathroom is just barely larger than my bath tub back home in NYC so don’t expect to be living in luxury unless you can actually afford it.  To give you all a better image of how small the bathroom is, I have to sit sideways going #2 because there’s not enough room for my knees because the door is right there!  (lol George at Gilbert’s)  Also, if I were to take a bath I wouldn’t be able extend my legs all the way even with my back against the back of the tub.

100 ft sq living area
DSC02639Kitchen, see the one stove burner in the mid left side?
DSC02640
Bath tub, it’s that small…
DSC02641I’m not that tall either, just above 5′ 7
DSC02642

Living Essentials

  • My apartment came with a refrigerator, futon, closet, electronic AC/heater, desk, nightstand, one stove burner (just one, not an actual stove), washing machine, curtains, and an ethernet cable.
  • I had/have to purchase(d) a wireless router, specific garbage and recycle bags, cleaning supplies, cooking supplies, a bar soap holder, air freshener, laundry hanger dryer, laundry detergent and softener, and towels for the kitchen (there’s no dishwasher or space for a dish holder to dry dishes after washing them)
  • I brought a tiny rice cooker from home that was meant for my college days, a tea maker, thermos, mug, clothes, and some toiletries as mentioned in a previous post
  • As mentioned in my comment to the earlier post, you don’t need to bring a can opener as convenience stores and ¥100 stores sell them
  • You would definitely need to bring a rice cooker if possible because the prices are outrages
  • Definitely bring any shampoo/soap that you’re attached to as well as it’s hard or impossible to attain here at stores; maybe just Amazon and other online sites
  • If you’re in a smaller city/town or one that is extremely bike-friendly, it is highly recommended that you get a bike as you can save money in the long run and get some exercise while at it
  • You can easily attain a bicycle if you look around; if you want to save money, look into used bikes.  I used this site for Kyoto. You can also check out this, this and this for Kansai second-hand stuff.  You may also utilize this for deals.
  • Make sure your bike has a light for the night, reflectors, a bell and if you’re getting one new you may need to buy a lock separately; also a basket is very useful!  Everything can be included if you find a used bike.
  • If you do get a bike, you may want to invest in either an umbrella holder for your bike or a top and bottom poncho/rain-proof gear

My new used ride for the next year or so.  She has grown on me.  Got her for ¥8,000 which is about $80 and that’s used.  There was also a $5 registration fee, yeah bikes are all registered here and the police can search for it if stolen; some have been recovered too (in fact it is actually illegal to ride someone else’s bike, even if you are simply borrowing it with the owner’s approval and knowledge).  You could get a new one for as low as maybe ¥11,000 which is about $110 but perhaps have to buy the lock but since I’m on a budget, $30 goes a long way.

DSC02627Kotatsu

A kotatsu is a table with a heater along with a futon/blanket covering it.  If you’ve seen them before on dramas, anime, or whatever you’ll know that it looks very comfortable; which is why I got one!  I heard that they’re pretty pricey, I mean if you think about it, it only makes sense; so I was hoping I could get a second-hand one, and I did!  Found this guy who was selling one on the Kansai Flea Market, site linked above, for about $30, a fraction of the price of a new one.  I can’t wait to use it when it gets cold here but that won’t happen for a while since it’s still in the 80s.  If you’ve never seen one, go look up videos and images and you’ll get it.

Sorry, I had to share my excitement.  If you’ve got any questions or comments, feel free!

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