A Year in an Instant


Day 8

Instant photo for Day 8 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos

I had Hawaiian cuisine today for lunch. I was in a restaurant just a floor below my office and was the only male customer in the restaurant. I counted 43 women, most of them in what seemed to be their early 30s, one with a young child. The only exceptions were two high school girls sitting not far from me. For a second I wondered if I walked into a women-only restaurant. The food was healthy but flavourful.

The photo above is a set of normal, average people, sleeping in the armchairs in Hikarie.

Day 7

Instant photo for Day 7 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos

Today is the first day of me working remotely. I have unlimited coffee beans from Guatemala, a grinder, filter coffee machine, kettle, two beverage vending machines and assorted treats. The Shibuya MOV coworking space is located in the Hikarie, 8th floor, and costs ¥19,000 per month for a full-time membership. I consider it fairly priced for the convenience of the location if all you need is a desk to get work done on your laptop.


Internet download speed is 80.40Mbps and upload speed is 29.78Mbps. Ping time is 19ms. Tested on speedtest.net.


The photo above was taken in Shinjuku late at night on the way home. Somehow this is my familiar area. I came out here looking for somewhere that makes me feel at home.

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Day 6

Instant photo for Day 6 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos

Apartment hunting continued today. I went to visit this one bedroom apartment in Shimotakaido, which is one stop away. I didn’t fall in love with it. I also went to check out Shimokitazawa. This is not the Shoreditch of Tokyo as I expected it to be and for this reason I feel cheated. Even the ramen I’m eating right now is nothing beyond standard. I’m going to consider other areas.


Japanese people have such a high standard for fashion. It blows my mind everyday. I feel like a lowly peasant in every social setting.


I’m meeting Hsiao tonight. Hsiao is my whiskey connoisseur, born in Taiwan and resident in Manhattan, New York City. She is staying at the Park Hotel Tokyo as part of a stopover from her flight back to the US. Hsiao and I worked together at ustwo but I have very few work memories as we were in separate offices.

My fondest memories with Hsiao are drinking whiskey in New York at multiple locations, drinking whiskey with her friends in her apartment, finding the lead singer of The XX on a London bus, and drinking whiskey again tonight.

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Day 5

Instant photo for Day 5 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos

I think Tokyo is going to be the end of me.


Today I have slept all day. And I discovered how hangovers in Tokyo feel like.


Thanks to the omnipresent vending machines and the water I had on the way home last night my hangover was cured quite quickly with a shower. After getting dressed I found Nana on the hallway and invited myself to hang out with her. Nana is another resident in the guest house I have spoken briefly with before.

I found out that Nana is leaving to Kyoto on Monday. She’s from Barcelona and has been travelling around Asia for a few weeks. She finds simple mundane things amusing and that amuses me.

Day 4

Instant photo for Day 4 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos

I have visited the Shin-Yurigaoka residence and I love it. It’s a bit of a walk to the station, in a very residential area, but has a lot of shops, restaurants and a gym near the station. It has 100 rooms and is 90% full, has a communal area with sofas, TV, large kitchen, exercise room, cinema room and rooftop. This is it. It’s also really affordable at ¥65,000 with all bills included.


I’ve been speaking with Alex and Haru about moving to Shin-Yurigaoka. They think I lost it and demand that I find another apartment closer to central Tokyo. I’m not sure if I should find a new apartment that I like or find new friends.


The second guy to the left has guaranteed me and my friends that he is the future CEO of Subaru. He manifested his passion for travelling the world, going to the beach and meeting lots of girls to all of us. I can’t remember his name.

Day 3

Instant photo for Day 3 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos

I went to visit two apartments today.

Fontana is a small estate agency with a scrubby office and vintage website that rents apartments mainly english-speaking foreigners in Japan. They are a very paper-based kind of organisation. Out of the two places that I visited, one captured my interest and I immediately proceeded to make a deposit. At this point the manager of the property realised the current tenant never gave a leaving notice. Without understanding how the property was shown as available on the website the manager told me this was a technical error. This was after we visited the property, littered with the current tenant’s possessions.

Despite this sad outcome, I got a much clearer idea of the housing market in Japan. If you are not Japanese and do not speak Japanese you will probably have to rent a place through an agency like Fontana, Oak House or Sakura House, that essentially act as middlemen between you and the landlord. You will pay between 30-50% more for a property than a Japanese person would thanks to this arrangement. But you also get benefits like a no minimum length stay contract; electricity, gas, internet and tv already setup for you, and they come furnished if you wish.

Right now I am having coffee at a really cool coffee shop in Shinjuku, near the station, in some weird side alley close to a pet shop, called 但馬屋 (Tajima-ya). They gave me a little rubber case to put my wet umbrella on when I walked in.


After viewing these apartments in the morning I decided to visit the Sakura House office and the Oak House office. My budget for a flat is ¥90,000 a month, so I am looking for places in the range of ¥65,000 to ¥75,000 before I consider pricier ones. From my visit at the Sakura House office I realised that they ask around ¥120,000 for very similar apartments to the ones I viewed with fontana for ¥75,000. This was not the agency for me.

I then visited the Oak House office. Their office is located in Shibuya, in a colourful space. Oak House seems more focused in renting rooms at “social houses”, houses with anywhere between 10 and 100 rooms located around Tokyo in which students and professionals can live. This might be perfect for me. For the first 3 months in Tokyo I am working remotely for my previous company, Thread, based in London. So I don’t interact with people that often. Having a busy social environment could be a good way for me to nest in this city and practice my Japanese. I booked a viewing at a social house for tomorrow. As a side note, the lady that was arranging my viewing also lives at the guest house I am visiting tomorrow.

The photo above was taken on the way to the Shinjuku station this morning after visiting Fontana.

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Day 2

Instant photo for Day 2 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos

I have an addiction to minimalism and Muji is usually where I get my fix. I don’t need to shop; eying the contents of the store is usually enough to improve my mood. Its native name, Mujirushi Ryōhi, translates roughly to Unbranded Goods Company.

Today I focused on looking for apartments online and asking friends for aid. The café of choice to perform these tasks was the Streamer Coffee Company, a really great recommendation by my university friend Shiho Yokoyama. Tomorrow I have a few rental agencies and apartments to visit.

The photo above is a chandelier made of wine glasses at the Muji Café in Shinjuku.