A Year in an Instant


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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