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Old 2007-02-01, 08:56   Link #221
Kyuusai
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quarkboy View Post
So, I'm going to be coming to Japan for 2 years on a JSPS Postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Tokyo, Komaba (Researching string theory with the physics department).

So, for 382,000 yen a month, where should I live?

I'm a single, 20-something american male.

I was doing some internet apartment searching, and it seems like it might be worth it to pay more for a nicer place that's not too far away (yoyogi-chou or nearby).
You'll probably want to find a liaison to help you make a selection. I'm from a small town and used to checking for rental property myself just by calling every place around, but in big cities it does make sense to find a "real estate agent" (kind of a funny term to use when talking about rental property). That goes doubly so when you're talking about entering a location where the rules are so very, very different, and a gaijin can get the short end of the stick very easily, it makes sense to have some one to help from the beginning to the end of the process. Perhaps the university can suggest a person or agency familiar with that area?

It can get hard for reasons you may not expect. There's the deposit, plus up-front rent, plus key money, plus whoknowswhat, plus... etc. One apartment might be more spacious for the same price, but has practically zero insulation. Another deal might seem to be good to be true, but is a genuinely good deal because it's numbered wrong (superstition is powerful in some places). One place might not want to rent to gaijin, another might rent to them but expect them to park somewhere else, and another might want to charge more... And these are just a few light-hearted examples pulled from memory.
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Old 2007-02-01, 09:13   Link #222
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Old 2007-02-01, 09:13   Link #223
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyuusai View Post
It can get hard for reasons you may not expect. There's the deposit, plus up-front rent, plus key money, plus whoknowswhat, plus... etc. One apartment might be more spacious for the same price, but has practically zero insulation. Another deal might seem to be good to be true, but is a genuinely good deal because it's numbered wrong (superstition is powerful in some places). One place might not want to rent to gaijin, another might rent to them but expect them to park somewhere else, and another might want to charge more... And these are just a few light-hearted examples pulled from memory.
I'm not particularly ignorant of the intricacies of the Japanese rental system (and I've had about 4.5 years of japanese), so I'm well aware of key-money (rei-kin), pre-rent, real estate agent fees, etc... And I'm pretty sure the university will act as my guarrentor.
One question I have: should I live at aome short-term (week to week) gaijin house while I search for a more permanent apartment, or maybe just rough it at 24 hour internet cafe's till I get a place? I wonder how long it'd really take to find an apartment in tokyo... I'd hope not more than a few weeks.
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Old 2007-02-01, 10:56   Link #224
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quarkboy View Post
I'm not particularly ignorant of the intricacies of the Japanese rental system (and I've had about 4.5 years of japanese), so I'm well aware of key-money (rei-kin), pre-rent, real estate agent fees, etc... And I'm pretty sure the university will act as my guarrentor.
One question I have: should I live at aome short-term (week to week) gaijin house while I search for a more permanent apartment, or maybe just rough it at 24 hour internet cafe's till I get a place? I wonder how long it'd really take to find an apartment in tokyo... I'd hope not more than a few weeks.
It sounds like you have the information you need (sorry for assuming you didn't, but "better safe than sorry", andI've been conditioned by the rest of the thread...).

Perhaps your college life has prepared you for the stress of uncertain living arrangements (especially if you've been an office-dwelling grad student), and you can get by with some shut-eye in 24 hour establishments, but with everything else you'll have to do, it could be rough. Personally, I'd be concerned about the stress and random circumstances (should clothes go un-ironed, etc) creating a bad impression at your new place of employment.

If it were me, personally, I'd stay at the gaijin house before I'd try the cafe-hopping route, unless I had prior experience in Japan that would assure me I'd have no problems doing it (and could fit all my luggage into one inconspicuous backpack!). But before I'd do THAT, I'd try to arrange housing prior to arriving in Japan at all.
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Old 2007-02-01, 13:07   Link #225
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You might also check out the "host family" arrangements to see if they offer any short term arrangements... those are good for socialization purposes (initiating social networks) if naught else - while you look.

I'd be surprised if the university doesn't have the sort of facilities that you couldn't just bum on campus (shower at the gym or a bath house, nap out in a library or office, communicate via cafe).

Personally, I'd work extra hard to avoid the gaijin house ... most people I know of weren't fond of the experience if only because it has an isolating effect (never mind the potentially huge variation in housemate quality ).
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Old 2007-02-01, 16:45   Link #226
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I can't vouch for them personally, never having used them, but people have told me that Sakura House are an ok option for a month or two while sorting out longer term accomodation.
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Old 2007-02-01, 21:14   Link #227
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quarkboy View Post
So, I'm going to be coming to Japan for 2 years on a JSPS Postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Tokyo, Komaba (Researching string theory with the physics department).

So, for 382,000 yen a month, where should I live?
Get onto Chintai (www.chintai.net)

If you can't work it out, drop me a PM

If you are receiving 382,000en/mth and living alone I'd get a nice 1DK/1DLK (1 bedroom, Dining Living and Kitchen), no more than 100,000 a month. Maybe if you get a 70,000en place and get parking (30,000mth) then you can buy a car and get about on weekends and during holidays.

Don't forget Japanese apartments are unfurnished - buying second hand is cheap though.

Oops - Location - You will be around Shinjuku, so Shinjuku-ku, Shibuya-ku, maybe even out towards Roppongi. Expensive areas, but convenient for you. Takadanobaba is alright too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quarkboy View Post
I wonder how long it'd really take to find an apartment in tokyo... I'd hope not more than a few weeks.
Month at least. Find a place, check it out, sign the papers, wait for the landlord to prep it. 2 weeks at shortest if you found a room on day one.
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Old 2007-02-01, 22:59   Link #228
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ewok View Post
Get onto Chintai (www.chintai.net)

Oops - Location - You will be around Shinjuku, so Shinjuku-ku, Shibuya-ku, maybe even out towards Roppongi. Expensive areas, but convenient for you. Takadanobaba is alright too.
if you planning on Shinjuku, you won't need a car, that's a major hub for the trains. ie.. that's where they park it at night.
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Old 2007-02-02, 00:12   Link #229
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Originally Posted by kitto-chan View Post
if you planning on Shinjuku, you won't need a car, that's a major hub for the trains. ie.. that's where they park it at night.
Thats not where they park the trains at night - Higashi-jujo, Oku, Ueno are 3 places I know where trains are stationed overnight.

Shinjuku is a large train station, but it does not have access to Shinkansens (they are 30mins away at Shinagawa), and you can't take a train to everywhere.

What I was getting at is if on weekends and holidays he wants to go out into the country or see something specific it will be of use to him.
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Old 2007-02-02, 03:20   Link #230
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ewok View Post
Thats not where they park the trains at night - Higashi-jujo, Oku, Ueno are 3 places I know where trains are stationed overnight.

Shinjuku is a large train station, but it does not have access to Shinkansens (they are 30mins away at Shinagawa), and you can't take a train to everywhere.

What I was getting at is if on weekends and holidays he wants to go out into the country or see something specific it will be of use to him.
I'm not sure that the expense of keeping a car in Tokyo is worth it if I'm alone. I'm the kind of guy that'd be happy to take local trains around the county. Plus I'm totally scared of driving on the other side of the road.... that'd freak me out!
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Old 2007-02-02, 05:22   Link #231
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I wonder how did this custom of driving and driver on the right side caught in Japan. I though only England was like that ! ^^

Have a pleasant stay in Japan, Quarkboy !
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Old 2007-02-02, 20:13   Link #232
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Rather off topic I'm afraid, but you'll find that rather a lot of countries drive on the correct (as opposed to right ) side of the road. Most of them were British colonies, but Japan were on the right tracks themselves before we made up their minds for sure..

Road side stuff

To try and get back on subject:

As for having a car, it might be easier to just rent one on those occasions you feel like going out into the middle of nowhere. No need to worry about parking, and you could pick it up near the area you want to explore rather than drive all the way there as well.
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Old 2007-02-02, 21:22   Link #233
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Originally Posted by Gaiarth View Post
As for having a car, it might be easier to just rent one on those occasions you feel like going out into the middle of nowhere. No need to worry about parking, and you could pick it up near the area you want to explore rather than drive all the way there as well.
I agree fully with this. You really don't want to mess with a car unless you have to - the constant and expensive inspections, the parking charges, the high cost of gas (at least if you are coming from America), and the fact that, if you are living in a major urban area, you don't need one, are all reasons not to get a car.

You'd be much better off just renting if you decide you need one. Of course, you'll still have to go to the trouble of getting a driver's license, which isn't an especially fun and easy process in Japan.
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Old 2007-02-03, 14:44   Link #234
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Well, as a stop-gap measure an international driving permit would be acceptable and valid for a year. After that you would need to take a test though. The UK is one of those countries that has an agreement meaning that you can get a Japanese license with only minimal work. The US, unfortunately, isn't and you'll need to pass a full test.
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Old 2007-02-03, 22:23   Link #235
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But again.. there's very few places in Japan that lack public transportation so the expense of leasing/renting, driving, and finding somewhere to put it become questionable. I never use a car in San Francisco or New York and as little as possible in other cities (Portland, OR - Vancouver, BC, Victoria, etc) and avoid it in Europe so in a country like Japan with such an extensive public system I'm not really sure why one would need one. Cars are really a pain in the ass in some places.

Part of exploring and visiting a country is to see and experience how the locals live - not bunk up in a HoJo's, spend all your time looking for McDs/Pizza, and driving everywhere alone in a car.
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Old 2007-02-05, 23:10   Link #236
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There are many places where I would say having a car is almost essential if you want to explore - Tokyo is not really one of them, but if you have the time and money I recommend it purely for the fact that 90% of the interesting, non-tourist-trap locations are far from stations, and trains don't run 24hours a day.
(Those teaching English, or on wages below 4mil/yr should not even bother).

Saying that the trains and buses will get you to just about anywhere you need to go.
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Old 2007-02-28, 23:29   Link #237
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i have some questions. sorry i haven't read the entire thread so i don't know if these have already been addressed:

1. how good of a vacation is going to japan all by yourself. i've never traveled anywhere alone before but i really would like to visit japan and don't know anyone who wants to go with me/can afford it. is it easy to say make travel friends with random people or anything like that. one guy i know told me that people are really friendly but then another japanese-canadian friend of mine said that most people are actually annoyed by foreigners and are just being polite. is it easy to make friends with other tourists... any situation i could put myself in to make friends with other tourists?

2. is there anything especially bad about being of east indian origin? i hear that blacks and whites get looked up to and other east asians like filipinos are looked down upon so where do indian guys fit?

3. what you think about the strategy of booking a known/major hotel for 2-3 days before i go and then trying to find a hostel/cheap hotel for the remainder of my trip? note: i don't speak japanese.
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Old 2007-03-01, 05:11   Link #238
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The first time I visited Japan was by myself. I had fun, but it can also be a bit overwhelming if you have nobody to share the experience with. Especially if you have little or no Japanese.

If you stick to places like Tokyo and Kyoto you'll have no trouble just surviving and seeing the sights. As for making friends with other tourists, it really just depends on who you meet. Most places I've stayed where there have been other tourists we've at least chatted; you have the shared thing of being outsiders so it's easy to start a conversation just by asking where they have been/planning to go. A couple of times I've gone on with some to visit places, and once on an all-night bender in Roppongi. (Which was interesting, but not something I'd do more than once...)

As for the Japanese, it really depends on the person. Some of them may just be acting polite, some really are friendly. I've had some nice chats with Japanese on long train journies and such, been taken for a drink completely at random by some old guy in Kagoshima who wanted to chat about the time he'd spent in England. On the whole, I'd say I've had more positive experiences than negative.

As for where to stay, you can do it quite easily the way you suggested. But if you know where you plan on going and how long you plan to stay in each place, it can be much simpler to book all your accomodation in advance. I always recommend the Japanese Inn Group to people who are visiting for their first time. http://www.jpinn.com The ones I have stayed at have all been very friendly, they are geared towards foreign visitors and you get a taste of sleeping on a futon in a tatami room.

One other place I would recommend in Tokyo is the Kimi Ryokan. http://www.kimi-ryokan.jp/ They are very popular amongst foreign visitors, located quite handily near a major station, reasonablt priced and very easy-going in their rules. Because it is so popular, and because you have no TV in your room and people tend to congregate in the lounge area, it is also a good place to meet other tourists.


Afraid can't be of any help at all with the second question...
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Old 2007-03-11, 21:42   Link #239
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I am visiting Japan this summer with my school exchange program. I will be staying with a host family and I was wondering what would be a good gift for them? Some gift I could probably give to the family as a whole. I don't know if there is a daughter or son in the family yet, so I don't know what I should bring for them. I was thinking something America themed, however, even that is hard. I don't know... hmm maybe some baseball caps?
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Old 2007-03-12, 02:14   Link #240
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They know baseball very well in Japan. I'd look for something different

No idea what would be a typical American product. Don't you've some traditional/artisanal stuff? For Belgians it's easy: chocolates. We know they're fond of it
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