When we moved to Japan we started off by living with our parents for the first couple of months. We were very spoilt and well fed everyday. But the time has come for us to find our own place to live…
I always find looking for a rental very daunting. We used to live in New Zealand where the rental market was so competitive that it got stressful sometimes. Rentals would get snapped up quickly and you are constantly searching the web for new listings.
Houses in Japan
We soon found out it was a different story in Japan. We asked around and learnt that Japan is flooded with empty houses. This is because Japan has an ageing population and it’s declining. A third of the population is made up of people over 60 years old and there are 1.4 million fewer people today compared t0 2007. But to be honest I think Japan could do with less people, especially in Tokyo.
Our new rental house
After a few searches on the internet we found a potential house. We found a 2LDK house which means 2 bedrooms, Living room, Dining room and Kitchen. It’s in a lovely quiet family neighbourhood and 5 minute walking distance to three train stations. There is an old style Japanese shopping street (shotengai) which has things like a butcher, fish shop, grocers etc.
Moving in to the new house
When we first moved in we only had the 4 suitcases we brought from NZ so we had to buy EVERYTHING. This was a fun experience to fill up the house with Japanese things.
On the day we moved in we realised that there were a few things missing and a few things different to what we were used to.
The day we moved into our house
1. Curtains – There were no curtains. We needed to buy curtains for all the windows of the house. We found out that tenants take the curtains with them when they move.
2. Lights – There are actually no light fittings in the house just a socket. So we had to buy 3 sets of light fittings for each room.
3. Oven – There is no oven in the house. A gas stove top comes with the house but we had to buy an oven. So we bought an oven/microwave that sits on the kitchen bench top.
4. Greeting neighbours – We only realised later when our new neighbours came to greet us. When you move to a new house in Japan people go to each house and introduce themselves with a little gift (usually towels).
5. Rubbish – The rubbish collection comes 5 days a week and must be put out in the morning before 8am. This is because the crows and cats attack the rubbish if you put it out the night before. This is how our rubbish collection goes for the week.
– Monday: recycling (plastic bottles, glass bottles and cans)
– Tuesday: general rubbish (food scrapes and non burnable)
– Thursday: paper recycling and clothes
– Friday: burnable plastic rubbish (#6 plastic)
– Saturday: general rubbish
Rubbish schedule and categories in Japan
So this means that we have to separate out all the rubbish. We have 4 different bins for each category of rubbish. In Japan they don’t hire (or don’t hire as many) people to separate the rubbish like other countries, it’s the people’s duty to do it themselves. It took us a while to get used to this system.
Cool things in a Japanese house
1. Japanese toilet
First I love how there is a little sink on top of the toilet where you can wash your hands. The water that is drained after washing your hands is then used to flush the toilet. It’s a very smart and friendly for the environment.
Also the toilet comes with a remote with many functions. The toilet seat temperature can be set and you can also program it to wash your bum area.
2. Washing machines uses bath water
Having a bath daily is what most Japanese people do. My parents have a bath everyday even during the hot summer days. Most of the time the water is reheated and reused again for maximum 2 days. Because of this lifestyle many washing machines have the function to used the bath water to rinse your washing.
3. Lights are remote controlled
As I said before when we moved in we had to buy lights for each room. The common type are the LED flat disc lights. They all come with remotes with many light options. We are able to change the brightness and the colour of the lights. We have a reading, studying, eating and relaxing settings.
4. Hot water remote
Out hotwater is heated by gas and controlled with a hotwater remote on the wall. You can set the hot water to a certain temperature and it can even fill your bath! It also separates out the kitchen and the bath temperature. We have the kitchen water set at 38 degrees and bath/shower set at 41 degrees.
5. Fish grill
Our stove top comes with a built in fish grill. Just goes to show how eating fish is a big part of Japan. You just fill the tray up with some water and place the fish on the rack and grill. Very easy and quick.
Built in fish grill in a Japanese kitchen
Overall housing in Japan is very good. There is a good selection to choose from with very little competition. Our place is a little smaller then NZ but we feel it is enough and happy with how convenient it is.