When I first went to Japan back in 2007, I rented an apartment from a monthly apartment rental company called “Sakura House“, which is a fairly large company that owns or leases over 1600 rooms at various apartment buildings, guest houses and dormitories around Metro Tokyo. They specialize in making it easy for foreigners to stay, because they rent rooms on a month-to-month lease basis, as opposed to the typical Japanese apartment rental, which is usually a two-year lease, with a couple months rent up front. To get one of those leases you also need a Japanese native to act as a guarantor, and there’s always a “little something extra” they charge, called “key money.” You don’t ask about key money, you just pay it, and think of it as a “gift” to the landlord.
Sakura House doesn’t require any of that, and you can reserve anything from a room at a dorm, to a room in a guest house, to a full-up one- or two-room apartment. The place I’ll be staying is a town called “Monzennakacho”, 門前仲町 in Kanji.
It is a small town of the Koto Ward of Tokyo, right across the Sumida river from the heart of Tokyo. It’s a nice neighborhood, amazingly quiet for being near a major elevated highway, with a busy main street within a couple of blocks. It has all the amenities that you need, plenty of little restaurants and shops, more convenience stores than you can shake a stick at, and at least one vending machine on every block!
There are two Metro lines that go through the subway station about a half-mile (1 kilometer) from the apartment, and about 1.5 kilometers to the nearest Japan Rail (JR) railway station. It is close enough to the center of Tokyo that most of the interesting tourist areas are only a few stops away on either the subway or JR. It perfectly embodies the idea of “convenience”, which is an essential Japanese trait.
My apartment is going to be in “Monzennakacho Building B”, room B304 on the third floor. When I was there last I was in the same building but on the second floor, so it’s going to be both familiar and strange. Spending an entire month in one place you begin to get used to it. When I got back from the first trip, sleeping in my own bed felt different, and I expected things to be in different places than I got used to in Japan!
Of course, the amount of rent is going to be pretty spectacular, but in terms of what you get for the money, it’s well worth it, considering I don’t plan to spend a lot of time actually in the apartment, other than for sleeping (and likely blogging!). For the 31 days I’ll be there, the rent will be 97,000 yen, which at the current exchange rate is about $1200. The rent includes utilities and Internet, as well as all furniture and bedding, with some household utensils like plates, saucepan, and silverware, plus microwave, refrigerator, TV, and private bathroom with toilet. All in all, for the location, the amenities, and the fact that it’s only for one month, it beats the heck out of trying to stay at a hotel for that time.
At any rate, that’s one less thing to worry about now, once I get to Japan at least I know I have a place to hang my hat!