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05/24/2007: "My New Place! Kokubunji in West Tokyo"
Well homestay ended and my first semester at TUJ ended and now I'm free to move to my new place. In the last couple months at homestay I was researching for places to stay long term for after homestay. I e-mailed tons of people and researched for days until I finally came across a place in a section of West Tokyo called Kokubunji. My main priorities was a place that offered a parking spot, had broadband internet, and wasn't more then an hour by train from my school. Lucky Yours Corp. answered my call with this awesome place and I moved in a couple days after the official end of the semester.
That was several weeks ago though. Within two days of moving in I got Pneumonia and was immediately bed-ridden for the following 2-3 weeks with frequent visits to the ER and Hospitals. Which is my excuse for not posting anything for 20 or so days. BUT, I'm all healed now and thought it appropriate to share my new place as my first post from Kokubunji.
This is the front of the building from the street. This place is what is called a guesthouse. That means you have a private room but share larger community areas for things like cooking and hanging out. I specifically looked for one of these places so I would continually have the opportunity to speak Japanese. My fear of leaving the homestay was that I was going to get a place and never speak Japanese and thus slow down my learning of the language. Also this gueshouse doesn't require deposit, key money, gurantor, realtor fees, and other associated bullshit that forced you to place $3k+ just to move in.
Here is the front entrance.
To enter the building, instead of using a key, you use an ID proximity card. I put the card in my wallet and just swipe my wallet around the key pad and the front door unlocks and opens for me.
Here is what you see when you first walk in. There is an entry way where you take off your shoes and put on your indoor slippers. Those computers you see are the community computers for if you don't have a personal one in your room. The lit up room to your left is the entry into the dining and hang out area and kitchen area. The hallway to the right goes to rooms and to stairs to reach the other two floors. The door to the right is the 1st floor showers.
Here is my cubby where I exchange my shoes for my slippers.
This is looking from the hallway at the entrance. Those metal boxes are our mail boxes. You can see another housemate switching out his shoe in the cubby area. The small glass door on the left is to the reception area? Noone ever goes in there so I don't even know why it exists.
This is a closer look at the computers and the door into the dining room.
This is the dining room and hang out area. The high-def tv you see if for eveyones use and we have digital cable and some games. This area is pretty popular with alot of the housemates and I spend most of my time down here rather then in my room. Every night people cook dinner together and socialize/drink. It's pretty lively every night and keeps me from getting bored sitting and staring at the wall by myself. It's also a great opportunity to practice my Japanese as I probably spend 3-5 hours a night down here speaking it. You can also see into the kitchen from the dining area.
Closer look at the couches and TV area.
This is the kitchen after entering from the glass door. Those cubbies on the right (white) are personal cubbies for putting your special foods/spices you want to keep seperate from everyone elses. The large metal box thing in the back corner is where everyone puts the majority of their food stufts and whatnot. You can see the rice cookers, washing area, gas stoves, broilers, etc.
Here you can see the stoves a bit better along with the community freezers and fridges.
This is Rina, one of the other college students who lives in the guesthouse who happend to be downstairs at the same time that I wandered in with the camera.
These are Tomatos.
Now here we are back in the entrance room. This is the hallway to the 1st floor rooms. You can see the doorway to the stairs on the left.
Here is what the 1st floor showers look like. Yes they're community, it's the biggest downside of the place but I've gotten used to it. I've noticed the Japanese are really big on getting naked together (bath houses, shared shower rooms, sumo).
Alright! Let's walk upstairs to my floor (2nd).
Here is the washer/dryer (YES I SAID DRYER EFF YEA!) room on the second floor. I also use those sinks for shaving and brushing me teeth.
Here is the 2nd floor hallway looking at the stairs to the open door on the right.
And that brings us to my room, number 207.
First thing you see when you open the door. There is a small place where you take off your house slippers and then proceed into the room.
This is what the main half of my room looks like. Yes I know what you're thinking, roomy right? I've been thinking of asking them for a smaller room as this one is way too big. In the upper-right corner you can see my A/C unit which is pretty much on all the time. That table where my laptop is sitting is called a Kotatsu and it's a Japanese style table that has a heater installed on the underside for use in the winter. Behind the table you can see my TV and $15 TV stand. Boy let me tell you what a joy it was moving that TV from Saitama to West Tokyo. On the wall you can see various vehicular posters. The biggest one being of a 77' Kenmeri Skyline which is sexier then sex. On the left of the room you can see my raised off the floor bed. Out my sliding door you can see my half of a balcony (left side).
Here is the opposite side of my room. On the right is my bookshelf housing such things as Jager (imported only $35 alll riiiight!!), my books for class, my video cam equip, other assorted books, and my collection of Option and Option 2 Magazines. On the left of the room you can see my personal fridge. You can also see the place where you take off your slippers from this view. The large doors there are the closet and then the upper doors are storage closet.
And finally, here is the view if I open my sliding glass door.
I've been here a bit over a month or so now and I really like the area. It's very green, hilly, and welcoming. It also has alot of great stuff in the area (which I'll show in a few posts from now) and the people are very friendly (for the most part). The housemates are awesome and always interested in hanging out and talking. I have a parking spot now so I'm one step closer to having a car here as well. All in all I see myself staying here probably for the next year or two. Oh also, It only takes 47 minutes to get to school instead of 2 hours...I can't explain the feeling of joy that gives me.
Also I wanted to talk about some stuff that may surprise some of you. I have always heard from people of how expensive Tokyo is and how, if you're a foreigner, things are so insanely expensive that you will end up spending double or triple the cost of what you spend at home just to live a normal life. This is completely not true. As with any city, if you're a stupid idiot, never research, and walk with your wallet out, you're gonna get ripped off, alot. For example, there are other students who started in my same semester who refused to listen to my recommendation to research who ended up on a smaller apartment with less amenities, same or maybe a little closer to school with no utilities, internet, or parking included, for $1200 a month on a 2 year lease and had to pay all the fees costing them around $4,000 to move into a place (of which they'll never get back, even upon moving out). That is what you call being dumb, and not looking around first.
Let me enlighten you what a little research can do. This place, with all utilities, internet, cable tv, parking spot, trash, etc...all fees, everything, with rent, $625/mo. No deposit, no lengthly lease. You can get it even cheaper too if you don't require a parking spot. I've seen some places, although very tiny and farther from central Tokyo, for as cheap as $300/mo. A 1-room apartment in my hometown of Sacramento with rent alone, not including utilities, is around that price. Makes you think that maybe this place isn't as expensive as you were told if you look around and learn how to do things first.
Anyway that's about it for this post. I like my new place, it's awesome. I'm much happier now that I don't live in effing China 2 hours away from the rest of the world.
Replies: 6 Comments
Saturday, May 26th
Thats swasome! looks alot different from the web page you showed me. Oh if you didnt know where coming for like a month.. lol.
Thursday, May 24th
Nice Place, Congrats!
tokyojosh [e-mail] [homepage]
Thursday, May 24th
this place is kick ass im really happy for you dood. A guest house like this is hard to find for sure. You did a good job. Now if i dont see you at school in 40min im comeing over and kicking your ass
Thursday, May 24th
nice...i bet the air is much cleaner on that side of the world... so you have a parking space, cool...i wonder what you could put in it??? its gonna have to be a nissan for sure!!!
Jesse Bias [e-mail] [homepage]
Thursday, May 24th
My names Jesse, and I will be attending TUJ as a Japan Admit starting this Fall. Your blog is so fucking awesome, and it has given me alot of insight on some of the things to look out for and stuff while im in Japan. Anyway, I'm going to rdo a homestay my first semester but I'd like to move into an apartment after that. Your new apartment complex is perfect! just out of curiosity what is the name of your apartment complex? I wanna check out their site if they have one. well, you can hit up my e-mail if you want "Jesse.Bias@Mac.com" or just comment back here or whatever. Thanks man!
Thursday, May 24th
Congrats on the new place!