Nakanoshimbashi is where I finally found an apartment.

My first view of this area was coming out of the subway exit. It seemed like a very cute little area especially compared to some of the other places I saw during my search.

Nakanoshimbashi Station (click for bigger version)

The apartment was listed as a 7 minute walk from the station which it turned out to be. I say turned out because two apartments I looked at during my search listed around 10 minutes from their station but they turned out to be 15 minutes or more. That’s actually a pretty long walk especially if you are carrying a bunch of books or groceries.

The alley to my building

I don’t know if you can tell how narrow this alley is but cars do drive down roads like this. This particular alley is usually blocked off by a small sign so that there is no through traffic.

Here’s my apartment building. It’s 3 stories and as I’m on the 3rd floor I don’t have to worry about noisy neighbors upstairs. Of course I do have to worry about making too much noise for the people downstairs. I wonder sometimes if they can hear me as I’m often up to 4am making these pages. They haven’t said anything yet so I’ll assume I’m doing okay.

My Building

This is actually the back of the building but it’s the side closest to the closest station so it’s the side I see most of the time. There are 4 apartments per floor. Two facing the front and two facing the back. Not really much of a view from either side but it least it’s not dark and dreary like some of the apartments I looked at.

The front of the building has a small interior design store/office on the first floor. I think it’s rented out and not the landlord’s business like in my last building. The only other reason I see the front of the building is to put out the trash or to go to the post office which is only a 3 minute walk away.

Trash in Japan is a different experience from America. In America each place I’ve lived has had different rules but generally living in an apartment you don’t have to worry about them. You just put your trash in the bin in your complex. Here in Japan if the complex is big enough you might have that option but for most buildings you have to follow the rules. The rules are that you don’t put out your trash until the night before it’s going to be picked up. Since you live in an apartment that means your trash is in your apartment for a week. On top of that you have to separate stuff into 6 things. Tin/Steal Cans, Bottles, Aluminum Cans, Burnable, Un-Burnable and Paper/Cardboard and the Paper/Cardboard has to be separated by type. In other words paper is separate from cardboard. Burnable stuff which is basically things like used tissues, paper plates and food stuff is picked up twice a week. Un-Burnable stuff is picked up on a different day of the week and Recyclables, paper, cans, bottles, are picked up on a different day from those.

360 of my room (click for bigger version)

Here’s the inside of my apartment. It’s got 2 rooms. Rooms in Japan are measured by the number of tatami mats that would fit in them. I think my place is about 14 mats. One room is 8 mats and one is 6. This is a pretty big place for a single person in Japan or at least that’s my impression from visiting other people’s places. It’s more common to live with your parents in Japan than it is to live alone. Living alone is growing in popularity but there are certainly lots of advantages to living at home from paying no rent to having Mom make all your meals etc. Some of you might be thinking "why does Mom have to make all your meals"  Well, fortunately or unfortunately Japan is still very much a land of sex roles so generally Mom does all the house work at least for the males of the house. If you’re female on the other hand and living at home you’ll probably be asked to help do the housework. I know several Japanese women that aren’t happy about that.

One of the local bookstores

So, here are some of the things you pretty much can be guaranteed to find just outside any train station in Japan .

Of course we have to have a bookstore. There is often more than one. I would say that magazines are much more popular in Japan than in the states. Even though we have so many I think Japan must have double what we have and they have sooo many more pictures!

They also have lots of manga. Manga which Americans would probably look at as comics is a vary popular type of literature in Japan and topics are far more varied than you’re average American comic book. Love stories, Romance stories, Mysteries. You name it. It’s not just super heros and villians. There’s an older series called Cooking Papa about a father that cooks and when ever he cooks the recipes are included in the book.

The local coffee shop

You’ve got to have a coffee shop or two or three near every station. Here’s the one near my station. Starbucks is of course coming on strong in Japan. One thing in Starbucks favor at least for some people is that smoking is not allowed at Starbucks. That’s not common in Japan. In fact one thing that sucks about Japan is that generally if you go out to eat you have to be content that the place will be full of smoke. My Japanese friends claim that more people smoke in Japan than don’t but so far that’s not been my experience although maybe I just don’t hang around smoking people.   You’d think that the government would be even more against smoking here than in America because of the health costs being that in Japan they have socialized medicine but then maybe because nobody personally pays for it they don’t notice the cost problem.

A local combini

Convenience stores are a big deal in Japan. Unlike American convenience stores you can actually get quite a bit of good tasting and healthy food here and they are all over the place. There are 4 between the station and my apartment. They are always full at night of people deciding that they are going to eat tonight. You can get spaghetti, rice omelets, curry rice, sushi, onigiri, chicken nuggets, egg sandwiches, ham sandwiches, salads and because they sell out everyday you don’t have to work about it all being weeks old. In fact most stores sell out several times a day.

Each chain, like 7/11, Family Mart, Sankus, Lawson, AM/PM each has their own specialties. For example AM/PM has about 30 behind the counter dinners like hamburgers, gyudon (beef bowl), oyakudon (chicken bowl) etc.

The drug store

Here’s the local drug store for getting your beauty supplies as well as medicines and stuff. Medicine is more licensed in Japan than in America I think so you can’t get cold medicine at the convenience store you have to get it at a drug store. That can suck because convenience stores are all open 24 hours but drug stores are not.

Gotta have fast food

Of course you’ve got to have at least one fast food place. Most stations probably have more than one. Mos Burger is fairly popular although I’m not personally a fan of them. There’s a ton of chains including McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, First Kitchen, Lotteria for burgers as well as several chains of Japanese food too although the Japanese ones are generally take out only. My favorite is First Kitchen as they have like 8 flavors of fries like butter fries, nori fries, cheese fries, etc and they have like 4 or 5 dips for them too.

Fast food sushi

Here for example is a Japanese fast food sushi place. All they sell is sushi sets. You can see the bike here for deliveries. Generally you can get pretty much anything delivered. They have special contraptions on the back of bikes for carrying soup for example if you order ramen or udon.

Generally you can find several Japanese fast food places. There is also a tonkatsu store as well as a bento(boxed meal) store on the way to my place. Bento is something you can get almost anywhere. All it really means is a boxed meal in the same way that a TV dinner just means a dinner in a box you reheat. A Bento box is never frozen though.

The junk store

I don’t know what to call this kind of place but it seems like there’s got to be at least one somewhere near every station that sells things like cheap lamps, incense, trash cans etc.

Another thing you’ll find alot of though not at every station is a 100 yen shop (similar to a 99 cent store in Ameica). There are actually two near me. One is pretty large and is part of a chain. The biggest one I’ve been to is in Shibuya and is 5 stories for stuff for 100yen. I got most of my dishes there.

What’s missing?  Well you’ll find a few restaurants at every station. Near might there’s a Udon/Soba restaurant, a Ramen restaurant, an Italian restaurant, a Sushi restaurant and a Yakiniku (BBQ beef) restaurant as well as several others. You’ll also almost always find at least 1 or 2 bars, a hostess bar or snack bar or two, a couple of kareoke places, a couple of video rental places and a couple of pachinko parlors.

Sunday Mart - The Local Super

Here’s the local super market. I wonder if there are more in the area. This one is actually very close to my apartment. Like maybe 2 minutes away. That means that people on the other side of the station would have to walk fairly far to use it so I wonder of there’s another in that direction.

This one is 2 stories and the top floor has lots of supplies like pots and pans and soaps, detergents, toiletries etc so if I really need something it’s all pretty convenient. Unfortunately unlike many American super markets which are open 24 hours this one and most Japanese supers are only open till 9pm.

The closest Koban

This is a koban or police box. It’s right across the street from the super market above and practically shouting distance from my apartment. Hopefully that means I’m safe not that I have much to worry about in Japan.

My understanding is that in Japan, getting married while a very big deal for the family is not a big deal for the government. In fact I was told that all you have to do is go to the local police box and fill out some form that says you are married. I wonder if that’s true. One thing about Japan, when you move you are supposed to inform the local police within 14 days.

The view to Shinjuku

This is the view from the super market looking in the direction of Shinjuku (and my apartment) which is probably the biggest city/area in Tokyo. It’s where the majority of tall buildings are. If you look at the picture to the right you can see the towering buildings in the distance. Those buildings are probably one of the most common sites in Japanese manga and anime. Everything seems to take place near there. The main Japanese government building is also among those.

As you can see I’m not really that far from Shinjuku. In fact it’s a 30 minute walk there vs a 20 minute train ride. Actually it’s an 11 minute train ride but since it’s 7 minutes to the train station plus another couple of minutes to wait for the train it’s almost always exactly 20 minutes to Shinjuku station.

I use the Marunounchi line but there is actually another new line called the Oedo line which has a station only 10 minutes from my apartment. Sometimes I walk that way just for a change. The Oedo line just opened in December 2000. It is very deep underground. Probably 7 to 9 stories deep in places.

The view from one of my windows

There has been alot of snow this year for Tokyo. The last winter I was here we got maybe 1/2 an inch and it was gone within a few hours. This year it’s already snowed 3 times though it’s generally been gone by the next day or two. Still it’s been unusual for Tokyo. The trains have to stop running which, since people count on them, that can be a big problem.

Snow on my

Here you can also see from my window the building in the center of the picture just behind the power pole is a sento or public bath. I’m not sure of all the details. Are they mostly used by people that want to soak in a big hot pool or are they mostly used by people that don’t have a bath/shower?  My realtor told me that if I wanted to practice my Japanese I should go over there because there are always old guys hanging out in the pool and they love to talk. I haven’t done it yet though.

I was surprised to find out that at least one of my friends does not have a shower in her apartment and she has to go to a public bath everyday. She generally goes to a coin shower which is probably not as public. In other words the shower is private where as a sento is more of a large room with stations for each person but nothing separating each station.

The buildings of Shinjuku

On just the other side of the station there is a small river running through the neighborhood. I took this picture at night from a bridge crossing that river. It’s a pretty cool site in person or at least I think so. There are lots of places in and around Shinjuku that give me the same sense of awe that I got from the city in the movie Blade Runner where the buildings just seem to tower over you. You can also understand where all the big city ideas come from in Japanese Anime. It’s from living or visiting Shinjuku.

  • anon_criminalmind
    your site ROCKS!!!

    i just wanted to thank you so much for sharing your experiences in apartment hunting in japan. i am moving to japan, myself, within the next couple of months, and i was very nervous about having to find accommodations for the year. i am still a bit nervous, but at least now i have a better idea of what to expect. thanks so much!!!

  • anon_Mikkel
    Thanks for sharing your experiences

    I enjoyed reading about your apartment hunting. I have lived 6 months as a student in Nagoya myself, which looks somewhat cheaper than Tokyo. I paid 42500 yen/month for a 1DK, about 25 square meters big and not including heating/elec/gas.

    I hope I can go back to Japan someday. There’s still a lot to see for me:-)

  • anon_Aussie

    GMan, you are a champion wordsmith… and HTML/Script smith to boot.

    Keep sharing your experiences, they are a great read, and make me feel very 懐かしい about my Japan experiences. Hope to be back one day soon.


  • anon_Ryan
    good job Greg!

    Thank you for taking the time to inform us foreigners about the way things work in Tokyo. I enjoyed your research and hope to put your experiences to good use. Best wishes for you. Ryan

  • anon_Matt
    Thanks alot!

    I really want to thank you for letting us know what it was like. I’m currently trying to move there myself and I wasn’t quite sure how to do it. It seems really expensive though, I wonder how much it would cost to live in a smaller city…

  • anon_Namabiru
    Well done mate!

    Your are the best Gman! Your site provides an abundance of insights to finding a place in such an intriguing country like Japan. My full respect to you.

    Namabiru at

  • anon_ricpa
    Moving soon

    I’m moving soon with at least one other roomate.  I currently work for UPS in the States and can arrange a transfer of employment to a package hub in Tokyo.  Thing is to transfer and sustain my job seniority, pay and position I need a ‘purpose’ of transfer.  Simply moving because I want to move isn’t good enough.  But If I am a student there it’s no problem.  So I am curious, is there much Technical Schools a non-Japanese speaking person could attend at not much of a bank breaking cost?  I currently study computer science here in Florida, but it is my first year and have no certifications.


    Also, I make $10/hr (200/wk) * that by one other person, is that enough to cover living costs?

    Any suggestions will be useful, thanks!

  • greggman

    I don’t know of any non-japanese requiring techinical schools in Japan.  I have heard of an MBA business school where it’s all taught in English.

    As for $10 an hour.  Most English teachers are making about that amount.  It’s not easy but it’s possible.  The usually suppliment their income by teaching private classes on the side.

  • anon_Bemmu
    Apartment rent

    I hope you don’t mind me asking about details of cost.

    I scanned this page but couldn’t notice you mentioning the actual cost of this apartment. So how much is it per month? How much do you spend on gas, water and electricity combined? How many months of rent did you pay on advance (you mentioned 6 months on the rental guide as a normal thing).

    I am currently living in Finland and I’m trying to decide between sharing an apartment with gf or applying for dormitory as I move to Japan to study the language. From your page it seems like dormitory is the only choice, since we probably cannot pay over $1000 / month for the apartment. Dormitory (ICU University) is $400 / month per person.

    In comparison, my current apartment in 3rd largest city of Finland costs $250 / month for about 30 square meter room, sauna, large balcony and internet, water and electricity included. So thinking about Tokyo prices is quite shocking indeed!

    Thanks for the great pages.

  • greggman

    My place costs 95000 yen a month.  To start it cost me 6 times that

    95000    first months rent
    95000×2 deposit
    95000×2 key money
    95000    realitor fee

    My personal utility bills I would guess are about 20000 a month.  In the winter you’ve got to run the heaters.  In the summer you’ve got to run the air-conditioner.  There are about 4-6 weeks a year that have weather where you don’t need to run either, at least in Tokyo.

    If you search real hard you can find places without 2 months deposit and 2 months key money but they are hard to find and usually are only that way because they are crap and no one would rent them.  Also, the farther out you go the cheaper it gets.  My place is a 1DK (1 bedroom, kitchen-dinning room).   A friend of mine was in Saitama and for I think 110000 had a 3LK, 3 bedrooms, living room, kitchen but his commute was longer.

  • celeste
    Do it!

    I lived in Tokyo at the top of the food chain so it was interesting to read about people searching for thle experience on a smaller scalee. Anybody out there who can do it; do it. It will be the highl point of your life. From Florida U.S.A.

  • spellcheck

    How did you get to the top of the food chain when you

    can’t even type an understandable email?

  • Judy

    Thanks for sharing all these helpful information.  I am currently living in San Jose, California, and am in the process of switching my career.  I have applied a couple of Language Institutes to teach English either in Japan or in Taiwan.  Unfortunately, living costs is the only concern I have if I plan to work in Japan.  Do you have any good links or information about apartments around Saitama area? (Is it usually cheaper to live around Saitama?)  Do you, by chance, know any salary ranges for teaching English in Tokyo areas?

    Thanks for the info., I really appreciate it.




  • Teaching

    My understanding is most English teachers in Japan make 250,000 to 300,000 yen.  Some schools offer housing.  It’s not great but it’s cheaper than getting your own.  A couple of my teacher friends are in shared houses which is relatively cheap as well and often they are closer to downtown.

    It is cheaper to live in Saitama than Tokyo in general.  Kanagawa is also good.  Especially on the Toyoko Line since it goes directly to Shibuya and Yokohama and almost directly to Ebisu and Roppongi.

    I don’t know of any particular places to look for apartments in English.  There’s always the metropolis classifieds

    Otherwise most info is in Japanese, for example

    has probably hundreds of thousands of listings.

  • Judy
    Thank You

    Hi Greg,

    Thanks so much for your prompt response.  Your info. certainly helps.  Well, I’ve checked the Institute website (NOVA), and found out they do provide shared housing.  I guess I will let it sit for a while till I have the offer in my hand.  Not even sure if I am able to have some ‘arubai’ when I am in Japan?  Since you’ve lived in Japan for a while, I am wondering (in general) for an English teacher in Tokyo, will he/she be able to save some money?

    Thanks! BTW, Happy Easter.




  • You should ask an English Teacher

    Tokyo is an expensive city so unless you are an expat in the financial industry everything here is too expensive.  But, I have a few English teacher friends and they seem to be doing fine.  They are on a pretty tight budget generally.  It all depends.  I’ve heard the best teaching jobs are through the JET program but then you don’t get to pick where you will live.  You could be way out in the country which would not be bad if that was what you where into but if you were expecting Tokyo it could be disappointing.

    I have a friend teaching at ECC.  She brought her boyfriend along and he has been doing private teaching.  The have been able to rent a 3LDK (3 bedroom + living room, dining room, kitchen) for 110000 yen a month.  That’s pretty cheap for the Tokyo area.  They probably got lucky.  They seem to be having a great time though.

    I have another friend, Dave, he is also teaching at ECC.  He just started a band.

    I have another friend, Jason who teaches at Berlitz.  He seems to be having a pretty great time as well.

    But, you should probably ask an English Teacher as they would know more what it’s like than me.

    Going out can easily get expensive in Tokyo.  For example yesterday was my friend’s birthday.  We went to Outback Steakhouse which ended up being 4000yen each then we went to Kareoke for 4 hours which ended up being 5500yen each then we had to waste time until the first train which was about 500 yen and then transporation fares were about 500yen tototal.  That’s 10500 yen or about $90 for one night out. 

  • Judy
    That’s right

    about the living standard in Tokyo.  I expect that already.  However, considering it is not cheap to go out around Bay Area as well.  So, it doesnt surprise me at all.

    Anyways, thank you so much for all the links and such.  I really appreciate all the help.  I certainly will check it out more.




  • Jess

    Has any of you stayed in the Hotels in tokyo for longer terms?  I’m thinking of staying in the hotels for 3 months rather than looking for an apartment.  Is that advisable?  are the rooms small?  Are the prices sky high?  I would like to hear your opinion if you’ve lived in japan before.  Thanks!

  • not cheap

    I don’t know what the cheapest Hotel is.  Maybe $80 a night?

    Also, Japanese hotels are pretty dang small.  You’ll probably be surprised at how small.

    There are places like Weekly Mansion which are about $300 a week but I’m not sure how a foreigner would rent there.  They are not aimed a foreigners and genreally require a Japanese bank account.

    There’s and places like that that rent rooms or apartments.

  • Jess

    Thanks for the info.  What’s your recommendation for travel within Tokyo?  I heard there are train passes that we can get from the US, and get unlimited travel there?  But those can be pretty expensive right?  is it worth it?  or just get it when I get there?

  • Train passes

    If you are going to take the bullet train anywhere twice (ie, round trip) then it is probably cheaper to get a rail pass.  You can only get them OUTSIDE of Japan.  Once you get here it’s too late.

    The rail pass you can get is a JR rail pass only.  While JR is the biggest train company it is only one of many.  That means the rail pass does not cover the subways in Tokyo which are run by at least 2 different companies, Eidan and Toei.  It also does not cover the other train companies in Tokyo, for example Keikyu, Tokyu, Seibu, Keio, Odakyu.

    I think a 7 day rail pass is around $320.  Going from Tokyo to Kyoto on the bullet train is about $220 round trip.  Going from Narita to downtown is around $30 one way.  So right there we are up to $280. You could easily spend $10 to $20 a day on train fares in and around Tokyo but again the rail pass only covers JR trains so I guess it just kind of depends.

  • HardwareLust
    Thanks for the pics!

    It’s wonderful to see some pics of where normal people live.  Even as expensive as it is, Tokyo is by far been my favorite place to live.

    Unfortunately, so much has changed since I moved back to the U.S. (in 1989 to be exact), that I really can’t comment on how it is today.  How nice we have your blog.

    I remember living in Yokosuka, down by the Navy base (lots o’ cheap digs there), about 45 min. by train away from “the big city”.  We paid, IIRC, 100,000 yen a month for a small (by western standards) 3 bedroom house, shared by three people, 2 children, and 3 cats.  And, another 10,000 yen extra a month for the one parking space adjacent to our ramshackle house.   (I remember when they demolished our neighbors house to make a parking lot.  Apparently, 8 parking spaces makes more money than a small house!)  All subsidized by Uncle Sam, of course.  I have very fond memories of when we arrived there in the summer of 1985 and the exchange rate was 246 yen/Dollar.  I have not so good memories of it hitting 93/Dollar right before we left 4 years later.  It was a turbulent time for Japanese economy.  Unfortunately, the expats and the rest of us Gaijin took a big hit back then.

    Anyway, I very very much miss Tokyo and Japan.  Thanks so much Gregg for sharing your experiences with us.

    A note to those who are considering to go; GO.  You will never regret going; you will only regret not going.  And, that lasts forever.  GO!

  • Parking lots

    I was told the parking lot thing is temporary.  Many old houses get torn down and then it is expected someone will build a new house on the old space but until they sell the space they’ll put a parking lot just to earn money in the meantime. 

    The space next to me was torn down.  The parking lot lasted about 6 months.  Now they are constructing a new house.

    I agree with you too, Tokyo is pretty awesome 🙂

  • Nismosis
    Very informative!!! Thank you!

    I’m planning on moving to either Kyoto or Tokyo coming up here in the next 1-2 years so this has been very helpful. I appreciate all of the extra info you threw in as well. It kind of gives me a sense of what it will be like to live in Japan. Thank you and keep up the good work.


  • JorgeLoyo
    Really cool site

    I’m planning to live in Japan in less than six months, I have a friend living in Osaka who has offered me to stay at her place, but after looking at your website I’m really thinking about moving to Tokyo.

    I only have a question (not related to your site): Could you tell me anything about the underground parking lots in Japan? I’ve seen on TV that there is some sort of robotized, underground parking lot that stores the cars in columns (in fact, it’s something like an underground parking tower!)… A friend in Denmark is planning to start a business about that, but he hasn’t been abble to get any information online.

  • DBrenar

    ☆☆☆Room-studio or home-office for rent☆☆☆If I haven’t deleted this ad, I am still looking for share mate!☆☆☆
    Private,quiet room-studio for rent in 2DK(2 separate rooms with kitchen-dining and bathroom between them-so we cant hear each other, entrance from kitchen-dining) in REAL CENTER OF TOKYO JUST 4 MINUTES ON FOOT FROM SHIBUYA STA.(like Japan’s Times Square),10 minutes on foot from fashionable Daikayama sta. 部屋-STUDIOを貸します,渋谷駅歩いて4分!友達も探しています!ホームステイ、英語のれんしゅう又はセカンドハウスOK。Its also fine for both home and office,because its on 1st floor and near the station. For female or male, any age, nationality.If you just need a place to stay you can stay here or we can become friends, talk about hobbies, share experiences, stories, go to parties…I enjoy living here very much, it is very convenient, great area located in very quiet place.There is everything, nice, low-priced supermarket around the corner, dozen of convenient stores, 4 minutes on foot to Shibuya sta. to other side-bustling center of Tokyo,where you can find everything! I am living in 2nd room-studio.I am Canadian male, I have traveled to 25 countries and can speak 7 languages. I wrote my own 2 books about world travel and cultures. I can email you the link to my photo gallery! I want to enjoy living here for at least 5 years more! Mansion is just renovated outside in blue and white, room is new, very clean, fashionable, white walls, flooring, 5 by 7meters plus large(1 by 3 meter) in wall closet, large window(no view).You can bring your own furniture or use fashionable apartment’s furniture to arrange it in your taste, there is printer,note-computer, TV, Video, sofa-bed, wooden or “kotatsu” table, bookshelf, armchair, telephone line, very fast-100MGb internet,aromatherapy pot,humidifier and minus ion generator, I like these kind of things so bought for you too; also in the dining room: microwave-oven, refrigerator,coffee maker,toaster,rice cooker,pans,dishes…I also have huge recent movie’s library. No key money, just refundable deposit and 50% of utilities. I dont know whats your budget, most important for me a nice person! You pay a rent fee by depositing into bank account, so there is no money relation. Would you like to come to see apartment and talk? If you don’t live in Tokyo, wire 1 month refundable deposit and I will reserve apartment for only you, we can agree via MSN Messanger and Webcamera! よろしくお願いします!Kind regards, Have a nice day!

  • Nini

    Hello Greg, first of all I would like to say that your website is very informative, you did an excellent job. My husband and I will be moving to Japan at the end of this year (he’s in the navy) to Yokosuka. We are trying to get information on apartments around the area but I’m not able to find anything. Do you know if Yokosuka is just the naval base or is it the name of the city itself?, can you give me any idea what are the nearest cities around the Yokosuka Naval Base?. Thank You Very Much For Your Help.

  • I don’t really know much about Yokosuka but I typed it into google and some sites with lots of info came up.  There is a city, it’s not just a base

  • BrendonMcQueen
    falling in the cracks…

    Gregg, I got a lot from your report, thank you.  I lived in Tokyo some years ago, but the Japanese co. gave me a micro apartment like some you talked of.  In May, I will come again, this time with a healthier budget, but not quite the ex-pat standard.  I need to find something 2LDK, furnished, for between $4-$4.5k p/m.  I have checked out most of the websites that you can google, was just hoping you could suggest some more local rental sources.  My wife might join me some months, as might different colleagues that visit.  I am targeting the Gotanda, Mita or even Shinagawa areas.  If you knew of anything local that I wouldnt find online, could you throw me a bone…?  Thanks and congratulations on the website…

  • rover

    I loved your story.  My kids will be moving to Tokyo in the next few months.  Looks like it will be quite an adventure.  Thanks for sharing!

  • pinkytak
    Wow! All are what I wanted to know!


    This is very good website. What you wrote is what I wanted to know.

    I am currently living in Tokyo, but I have to look for a place to live near Shinjuku before April 2006. Since I had lived in US for a while, I have never lived in Tokyo. So, no idea about finding a place and paying lots of money to realtor.

    Plus, I don’t wanna carry too much stuff, so I prefer a furnished room.

    I just wonder when you first moved in to the noizy apartment and later you told your realtor you want to move out, did you pay double Reikin and Shikikin?

    Anyways, it was fun reading your writing!

  • nathan

    I have to agree with everyone else on this, but i really liked this site. i’m considering moving to japan for a year coming up this next summer and i’m really confused as to were i want to go… theres to much i want to see. anyway thanks for all the info and pictures, i feel i have a better understanding as to what to expect now when i go.  thanks very much.

  • Tennessee
    Size is hardly what matters

    I came for “2 years” in 1983 and lived very happily in an eight-tatami mat Japanese-style appaato for six years. After marrying a great Japanese lady, we moved into something bigger but made the mistake of believing the landlady about traffic noise & smells and mosquitos (no screens). They WILL lie to you if they are desperate enough. We paid 240,000 yen a month for a 1 LDK that was essentially one largish room with an attached toilet and shower. This was the “best” of about 5 apartments we were taken to by the agent we selected, including one filthy one that clearly was intended to make all the others look better.

    We could not wait to move from this second dump, and when we eventually did it was into our own new place, which we bought. You can talk about how “small” Tokyo residences are but it really is what you are used to. I have owned, in the States, 3-, 4-, and 5-bedroom homes, and these were all nice enough, but impractically large. You don’t REALLY need all that space.

    Where we live now is in downtown Tokyo and just a 1-minute walk from the intersection of two subway lines. In terms of size (3LDK) the apartment is fine for the two of us, and we save tremendously on our utility bills and furnishings. The complex is well maintained (we pay a monthly fee of about 15,000 yen) and the neighbors are quiet and nice. We have an underground parking space for our car, at 35,000 per month. The 11-year-old car just saw 53,000 kilometers/33,000 miles and has never had even one mechanical problem (which attests to another major savings).

    There is no yard, and while I do miss my roses I have learned from my 24 years here that how BIG your home is means very little in terms of comfort.

    Our neighborhood is safe and highly convenient — within a 2-minute walk are a grocery store, a drug store, two convenience stores, four medical clinics, two barber and several beauty shops, a flower shop, a nice bakery, a police koban, several “ok” restaurants, and one of the most scenic cherry blossom viewing sites in the city, in an old geisha district. Within a 5-minute taxi ride is a major commercial district with scores of restaurants, several multiplex cinemas, an 8-story shopping mall, at least four up-scale department stores, three large western-style grocery stores, and a beautiful symphony hall where Sejii Ozawa occasionally performs.

    So what do I miss about the States? Spontaneity, people dropping by, my rose bushes and the mountains of East Tennessee, but certainly not urban squalor, crime, or worry when my wife is out by herself at night. If I ever miss THAT, I can just watch CNN over the satellite.

    Oh, and I can do without the pigeon couple who seem to think they own our 5th story balcony.

  • Hmmm, I don’t know how to take your comment.

    Could I be happier in a 1DK instead of a 4bedroom house? Sure. I crappy 4bedroom house in a crappy neighborhood with crappy neighbors vs an emaculate 1DK in say Roppongi Hills Apartments.

    But then you go on to tell me you live in 3LDK in downtown Tokyo with a car park!!! You are RICH DOOD!!! Puleeeze. I would kill for a 3LDK in downtown Tokyo AND a garage and obviously enough money to put a car in it.

    The point is, it’s kind of hard to take you seriously that a 1DK is okay when you’re living the rich life for someone in Tokyo. The majority of my friends were in a 1K or living far outside the city.

  • maire

    Enjoyed your blog.2 yr countdown to semi retiree career change TEFL to uni medical professionals,will check in after positions are secured.Thanks maire

  • mc

    Hi. I’m thinking of renting a room in Nakanoshimbashi? What’s the area like? It would be my first time in Tokyo. I prefer a somewhat bohemian area, but not for very young people. Thanks, MC

  • bohemian but not for young people?

    I’d say the most bohemian area is Shimokitazawa but it’s pretty young. Another is Koenji and also parts of Kichijouji. Nakanoshimbashi is not bohemian at all

  • mc

    thanks for your would you describe nakano shimbashi then?

  • nakano shimbashi

    I would describe it as relatively quiet and pretty convenient but not very exciting. From where I lived (see google maps) I could get to Shinjuku in 20 minutes by train or 30 minutes if I just walked. I could walk to the Marunouchi-Line at Nakano-shimbashi station in 8 minutes which would take me to Shinjuku, Akasaka, Tokyo, .. if I switched at Ginza (10 seconds across the platform at Akasak-Mitsuke station) I would get to Ginza and Akihabara. If I walked to the Oedo line at Nishi-Shinjuku 5 Chome station I could take that directly to Roppongi, Azabu-Juban, Shiodome, Kachi-Doki and Tsukiji-Market.

    One thing, if you are someone you likes to stay out at night and party then you want to live as close to downtown as possible because the trains stop at 12am and don’t start again until 5am. So, if you live downtown and you are partying you can take a taxi home but if you live far out of town the taxi will be too expensive. For me to get from Roppongi to my Apartment generally cost 3500yen (about $30). From Shibuya it was usually under 2000yen. From Shinjuku it was only 1000yen. The last 2 years I started using taxis a lot. Instead of deciding not to go out because I didn’t want to stay out until 5am I’d just decide to go and if I got tired or wasn’t having a good time I’d take a cab home.

    If I lived say in Kichijouji it would probably be $60 for the cab ride though and that would probably make me less likely to go out downtown. Of course there are lots of places to stay out in Kichijouji and neighboring areas.

    At the same time, I had 3 friends that lived directly in Shibuya and although I liked my apartment better than their’s I was often jealous how easy it was for them to stay out.

  • anonymousjt
    dood, u r gud

    consider making a career of doing this. i’ve been scoping out a trip for 3 mo now, and there are 2 competitors; frommers and cruxay, who held my interest as well as you have. nice work.


  • ttirrem
    thanks for the amazing tips

    I applied for a job in Japan last year but did not get it. I almost got an apt in Shinjuku. Then I went over there for two weeks visit. I greatly prefer to settle down in the area at Nakano or between Nakano and Harajuku. I am going to apply again and hopfully I will get the job again. I can’t wait. I am really loving Japan.

    again, good job….

  • Mmillersd

    My Company has an opening in Japan, I am really pensive about making the leap. I have two young children, I want to find an area that my wife and kids will be able to have a good experence. I have never been to Japan but my company is planning on sending me out for a couple of weeks. Also looking at the cost it seems that rent has gone up considerably since this article was orginally written. The lowest I found was 152.06m2 for 500,000 yen which is equivelent to $6400.00 that was in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Your site has been very helpful, any more help would be greatly apreciated.

  • What are you looking for? $6400 seems high but yes, if you are looking for 3 bedrooms in Shibuya that doesn’t sound unusual. Most people live outside the city. Try Mizonokuchi on the Den-en-toshi line or Motosumiyoshi on the Toyoko Line. 

    Basically, find which lines are convenient for your company then choose an apartment 6-10 stops outside the Yamanote line. You should be able to find a 3 bedroom apartment for I’m guessing under $1500 a month.

    Of course if your company is paying then just tell them to get you the $6400 place downtown. Then again, if you have small kids, maybe you’d be better off in the suburbs.