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How to rent an apartment in Japan

    japan apartments

japan apartments

Japan is notorious for having some of the most expensive real estate in the world. When it comes to renting your first apartment the process can be grueling and stressful. The information provided here will hopefully prepare you for what is to come. This guide assumes that you have already decided on which train line or train station you want to live on. With that in mind let’s begin.


Before you decide on renting a place it is important to know and prepare a couple of things.

1.A guarantor:
a. Usually a Japanese national with a stable financial background. In some cases your company might be able to help you in regards to renting a place by either being a guarantor or talking with the real estate agent and arranging for the company to rent the place and in turn you rent the place from the company. There are a number of other ways this can be done so it is a good idea to check with your company if they can help out in regards to this and bring along any kind of document from your company that can verify this.

b. It is important to note that some landlords will refuse to rent to foreigners if they cannot speak Japanese.

2. Money:

When renting a place in Japan it is a good idea to prepare 3-6 times the monthly rent you have budgeted. Below is a breakdown of some of the fees in a worst case scenario:
a. Reservation fee (tetukekin) ñ 1 monthís rent
* This fee is paid to the rental agent and is used to hold the place until you sign the contract. This is so that the apartment is not given to somebody else.

b. Key money (reikin) ñ 1-2 monthís rent
* This is paid to the landlord and is considered a ìThank youî for having allowed you to stay in their place. You will never get this back. Due to the recent economic situation globally you can actually bargain with the agent to see if they can reduce some of the fees. Sometimes you can get away without having to pay the key money for example.

c. Deposit (shikikin) ñ 1-2 monthís rent
* The deposit is used to cover any damage to the apartment when you move out. You will usually never get the full amount back; even if your place is spotless a portion will most always be deducted for cleaning. Yes, even though you clean the place spotless the rental agency will still hire a cleaner to come in and clean it again.

d. Rent: 1-2 monthís rent
* Depending on when you actually move in your first monthís rent could include the adjusted rent from when you first move in plus the actual first monthís rent.

e. Agent service fee (chukai tesuryo) ñ 1 monthís rent
* This is paid to the real estate agent and of course you donít get this back.

f. Furniture:
* It is important to note that Japanese apartments usually come unfurnished; they donít even have light fixtures in most cases. So good idea to prepare some money for your basic furnishings before moving in.

3. Hanko:

Best to get a Japanese seal made up before you decide to visit a real estate agency. If you donít have one by now you should probably get one as it will become more and more necessary for official documents in the near future.

4. Bank book or pay slip:

On rare occasions the real estate agent may want to verify your pay. This is usually for foreigners to ensure that they can pay for the place they are renting. This information can be useful in sealing the deal especially in more rural areas and for those with landlords that are a little bit reluctant to rent to foreigners.

Looking for a place:

Once you have decided on a budget and have all the preparations it is time to look at how to actually look for a place.
For those with limited Japanese capability or without access to a friend to translate for you then the best option is to start off looking for places that offer services to foreigners. Below are just a few:


These places mostly service the Tokyo area but may have access to some of the more rural areas. One of the advantages with some of the above places is that they will usually help you with initial setup with the utilities.
If you are able to speak Japanese then one you have 2 more general options:
1. Check out local real estate agents closest to the station you are planning to use. The local agents usually have some more listings that might not be on the internet.
2. Use a Japanese website like Homes (homes.co.jp)
a. This is one of the best sites to use but you will need to be able to understand Japanese; best to be used with Google Chrome page translation or Firefox and Rikaichan.

Once at the real estate agent office they will usually ask you to fill out a form detailing some of the details in a place you are looking for like how far from the stations and do you mind 1st floor apartments. You will then pick out some places to look at and then you and the agent will go together to check out your pickings.

Signing the deal:

So now you have decided on the place. What comes next is actually relatively simple.
1. Bargaining: You can try bargaining with the agent in regards to Key money or deposit, especially if they want 2 months key money and 2 month deposit. I would rather pay the deposit and argue when you move out about how much to be returned than to pay the Key money knowing you will never see it again. I have had successfully.
2. The landlord: The agent will contact the landlord and discuss if he/she is willing to accept foreigners. If you speak Japanese then you are one step closer to a place. If you do not speak Japanese and you are not backed by a proper guarantor then there may be some difficulties. If all goes well then youíre off to the next stepÖ
3. Documents: The agent will then prepare all the documents necessary and usually at this point you will discuss the money transfer process and arrange for a date to receive the key.

That in a nutshell is How to rent an apartment in Japan. See you in Japan!!!

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Japan – Ancient, Beautiful, Innovative



by Grace Bailey,

When most people picture Japan they usually imagine it as a single strip of four islands connected together via bullet train and highways, while in reality the islands of the archipelago number thousands, though not all of them are inhabited. In mass culture we know Nihon as the land of the samurai, sake, sushi, anime, salary men, Yakuza, strange fashion, robots and their native polytheistic religion Shinto. An incredible mixture of new and old, tradition and innovation it has been at the forefront of technological advancement despite its difficult and turbulent past. It is highly doubtful there are people who have never heard of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the crushing defeat the Imperial army suffered during WWII, throwing the nation of Japan into post-war rebuilding with a complete change of politics. As a true testament to the tenacity and unbreakability of the Yamato-Damashii, the spirit of Japan they have done in a few decades something few countries can boast with.

Modern Japan still retains its traditional values and unique, beautiful culture which has been emulated by countless people across the world. Japanese punctuality and modest social norms in official matters are legendary. What a lot of people however don’t picture is that despite their reserved nature the Japanese people really know how to have fun in ways most of the western world can’t even imagine. The popularization of karaoke, anime and manga are just a few aspects of the way this amazing nation influenced the
world over the past decades. Their ingenuity knows no bounds and their love for new technological advancements has given the world many electronic devices, cars and research in robotics.

Those are however only the popular aspects of mass culture, while underneath all this lies the heart of Japan, its ancient roots present in every city and every blade of grass, cherry tree and Shinto shrine. Because its large span it has a very diverse biosphere ranging from subtropical forests on Ryūkyū and Bonin to the wintery, cold islands in the North. For that reason there are plenty of places one can enjoy a quiet country life away from the bustling megalopolises and an almost pristine nature filled with legends and myths. One thing visiting tourists should always keep in mind is that the major cities are indeed huge and if you truly want to enjoy a walk in the more rural parts of Japan you should get ready for a trip away from it all. Urban sprawl is not nearly as bad as it is in the West because one of the qualities Japanese people have always tried to emulate and search is balance in all things. They have a sense of aesthetic ingrained into their very soul which is encouraged through tradition, ritual and a sense of belonging. Learning Japanese is a difficult task, but worth every minute spent doing so because it has many levels of intricate communication mirroring their mentality and philosophy.

Japan has a mixture of religions present like the native Shinto and Buddhism, where for some people both of those work in unison. They are a nation of religious freedom so one can find many other religions there.

One of the most easily recognizable aspects of their culture are their art and music which carry unique undertones like no other culture in the world. Their love for simplicity and beauty in both architecture and cuisine mirror their life philosophy.

Whether you’ll be taking a walk around Shinjuku or attending one of their numerous festivals or looking to visit their multitude of temples, shrines or even climbing Mount Fuji as a testament to your spirit and perseverance or respect for their traditions you will inevitably have a good time in the land of the Rising Sun.

Cheap Accommodation in Tokyo- Near Shinjuku, Harajuku

Sakura Hotel

Sakura Hotel

Cheap Accommodation in Tokyo:  Hotel Sakura Ikebukuro

Summary:  Conveniently located budget hotels in Tokyo can be a challenge to find.  Sakura Group’s Ikebukuro Location offers comfortable, convenient and cheap accommodation for Asia travelers.

Cheap Hotel Near Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku

Tokyo is massive, there is lots to see, and many backpackers can only afford to stay in the city for a few nights. Therefore, location is absolutely essential when picking lodging for a visit to Tokyo. Hotel Sakura is encompassed by Sakura Group, which owns numerous hostels, hotels, and guesthouses throughout the city.   Your personal sightseeing goals will likely determine the best location for you. The Ikebukuro spot offers convenient access to popular destinations like Shinjuku, Harajuku, Rappongi, and Shibuya, as well as Ueno Park and Asakusa. However, Sakura Hotels can offer an inexpensive option for comfort and convenience in other neighborhoods too. Try the Jimbocho, Hatagaya, or Asakusa locations for alternative accommodation in Japan’s busiest city.

Tokyo’s subway system is extensive and can be confusing at first go, as not all lines are operated by the same companies and don’t all accept the same fare cards. The JR Yamanote line, however, makes a large loop around the city, making it easy for visitors to see a lot with minimal subway transfers.  Ikebukuro station is known as the world’s second busiest train station, and is located on the JR Yamanote line. Hotel Sakura in Ikebukuro is just a ten-minute walk from the subway station.

A Tokyo Budget Hotel with Amenities

From a solo traveler to groups of up to 28 people, guests can choose private or shared rooms, dormitory style with shared kitchen, or traditional Japanese style ryokan.   At 6,800 yen for a single room, Hotel Sakura Ikebukuro is very affordable by Japanese standards, and those traveling in groups can save even more.  (Prices do vary a bit by location). While Sakura does not offer the super-economical capsule room, guests have ample space to stretch out with full size beds, color TV, ethernet cable, A/C, bathrobe, slippers, towels and basic toiletries provided.  Those who’ve been traveling other Asian countries will recognize this as a luxury not often found.

Sakura feels like a backpacker hotel, but with even more conveniences.  There is an international payphone, free WIFI, vending machines, and an internet café in the lobby for those traveling without a laptop.  The friendly, English speaking staff provides free luggage storage, a laundry service, and information on activities and sights around Tokyo.  Additionally, the website is excellent, excellent, excellent. There are pictures of all the room types and a very organized online reservation and confirmation system allows tourists to feel comfortable when reserving rooms ahead of time. You can also find detailed directions from the airport and from the Subway station on the website.

For 320 yen, guests can enjoy a light all-you-can-eat breakfast from 5-11 am, which includes toast with butter/jam, soup, tea, coffee, and juice.  The café serves a full menu of international foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, and has a wide selection of sakes and international beers.   Sakura has a few indoor tables, as well as a nice patio with seating where backpackers can read a book or chat with other travelers.  It seems they try to promote a communal, friendly atmosphere where folks can meet, yet it’s not rowdy. I did not experience this during my stay, but Sakura locations sometimes display art or hold cultural events for guests.

Enjoy the sights of Tokyo conveniently from your base at Hotel Sakura Ikebukuro. Whether you’re a lone backpacker, or traveling with a group, you can feel comfortable here without blowing your travel budget.