New Yokohama Apartment

mood: Revitalized

In my previous post I mentioned that I moved to Yokohama earlier this year. It has since occured to me that it would be a dandy idea to show you all the pics of the room so you can see for yourselves how hard I'm getting screwed by the Japanese rental system.

As you may be already aware of, Japan is famous for incredibly small living arrangements and extrordinarily expensive prices for everything. In no situation more does this hold true then with housing. First off let me explain how renting a place to live works in Japan.

Step 1: check your skin color, are you Japanese? No? Then go ahead and slash 90% of the possible apartments for rent off your list because almost no one will rent to you because of extreme blind and ignorant racism. I'm sure you're thinking, "He's overreacting, they're not that racist." You sir, would be quite mistaken. It is among the most famous problems foreigners face living in Japan. Everyone I know has been through similar situations to the story I'm about to share with you.

Just before sharing this story, let me break down the costs of moving into a place. When you want housing you contact a real estate agent and they help you find an apartment. As part of finding an apartment they expect what's called "key money" and a "deposit" that each respectively equal 1-2 months rent. The key money is sort of a "thank you for letting me give my money to you" fee and you will never see it again. Same goes for the deposit, it's not a deposit though because you never get it back, ever. From there, you of course must pay first months rent and a few other misc. fees. Right off the bat your move-in cost is between 3-5 months worth of rent which will only cover the first months stay. In addition to that, they require 1-2 guarantors to back you up in case you don't pay. This person must be a financially stable Japanese citizen willing to sign off to pay all your rent if you decide not to. Like most people, you'll never find this magical Japanese friend so you'll have to hire a guarantor company which conveniently is linked to the real estate company you're already paying all these fees to. The cost of the guarantor fee? About a months rent per year of contract they're covering. SO, to recap, you'll have to pay between 3-7 months worth of rent just to move in for the first month. Better not move out for a long time and spread out the raping over a long period huh?

Now back to the story. When I was looking for a place to live, I first wandered around the neighborhoods I was interesting in living in looking for real estate shops that post up apartments for rent (that's how it's generally found here, or searched on the internet). I ran across a place that had advertisements offering "no guarantor needed!" and "only 0-1 mo. key money and deposit!". I'm thinking, "great! let's give them a try!". I walk inside and sit down with an agent and start looking at apartments. I ask him total move-in fees for a few places and he says to me, "Well, I dunno, you're gonna need a guarantor, and you'll need to pay key money and deposit too." I of course respond with, "What're you talking about, your ads say you dont need them." He responds to me with a condescending tone, "Yea... but you're a foreigner, you don't pay your bills, so we need insurance." I of course angrily respond, "What does me being a foreigner have anything to do with it? Japanese people can skip out on bills just as much as a foreigner!". He laughs as says to me, "Japanese people never not pay bills, only foreigners do that. Also you will probably escape Japan and not pay rent." Keep in mind this entire conversation is in Japanese so it's very evident to this jackoff I'm not the type of foreigner who has been here only a week. Yet, he's was still racist as hell and wasn't afraid to act as such. To tell you the truth though, he's not even that bad, simply walking into most real estate agents you'll get people telling you "NO FOREIGNERS GET OUT!". Later I contacted a real estate office that wasn't racist but after selecting several properties, they called the landlords and had to ask if it was ok for a foreigner to live there, which 90% of them said absolutely no.

Anyway, I'm off on a tangent now. This brings me to my current apartment. For many foreigners, you're required to find monthly apartment services which actually don't require all the bs since you're renting on a month to month basis. Sure the rent is usually more expensive but it saves the hassle. Finding a good apartment in the regular system as a foreigner is a feat to be sure.

Now to the actual pictures. I live in a monthly apartment building on the 7th floor in northern Yokohama. Yokohama is on the coast on the West side of Tokyo Bay. It's about 25km southwest of Tokyo and 25 minutes by train. This picture above is the classy hallway after exiting my elevator.

To open my door you don't use a key. Instead, you use a numerical password. This is pretty convenient but I'm curious what happens when the door lock's battery runs out. plain

As you open the door, the soft and welcoming light of my Yokohama mansion beckons you in.

Now you're in my entry room. Careful, take off your shoes, don't want to get my wood-looking plastic floor scuffed.

Ahh.. and now you've entered my living room. Go ahead and take off your coat and I'll give you a tour.

Follow me right this way. We're passing the pantry, kitchen, and storage room at the moment.

Welcome to my Entertainment room/study. I have my TV here, my PS3, and my closet holding all my suits and jackets.

Let's move on to the computer room. Here you can see my lavish work desk of which no chair is needed. Instead, I more efficiently squat or sit on the floor to use my computer and study.

Alright, let's go back down the hallway to another part of the mansion.

Ah the master bathroom. Slightly elevated from the rest of the floor to ensure you break toes and arms when you trip returning to the bedroom after a midnight tinkle.

The toilet is a classy addition I might add. Putting the toilet and the "shower" together allows the user to more efficiently use his time by crapping and taking a shower at the same time (note the drain in the floor). Also, no needless waste of space, your knees will hit the door when closed and the toilet paper dispenser will kindly jab into your right leg. Also note the heavy duty platic piping. Don't worry, the same piping is used for the kitchen as well.

This spacious shower allows you to use either the sink or the shower head with a simple twist of the knob. The bath is also big enough that if you sit down, you'll likely get stuck and have to call for help to get out. Only the best for my master bathroom!

Let's move onto the kitchen. Let me guide your attention to the hotplate of a stove I have. This allows me to "cook" many dishes from mac'n'cheese to a full blown Thanksgiving dinner. Right next to it is the sink. Placing them so close together helps because, when you're done cooking, the splashing water from cleaning dishes will help cool down the hotplate and the steam generated by the water hitting the still blazing hotplate acts as a sauna. Looking above, you will see my large cabinet setup. This allows me to store a whopping two plates and two bowls. Haha, I don't know why I need so many plates, who ever has that many guests to entertain anyway!

Next, the refrigerator. I first though about getting one of those bulky models with the ice machine and multiple doors but then I thought, who wants a freezer? Not me!

The placing of the chair to the table I don't have also assists the door in this full-swing opening. Uh-oh, better be careful, don't want to hit myself with the door by opening it too fast. The roomy interior of this fridge is also big enough to hold a carton of milk, two water bottles, some jam, and alot of sorrow.

Let's move to the pantry and linen closet. Here is where I set my backpack and briefcase (which I switch depending on the work day or school day). Here you can see my microwave and lack of anything reminiscent of an oven. The pantry and linen closet are also big enough that I store the mansion trash can here as well.

Now we come to my bedroom closet and medicine cabinet. If you're wondering what those red circular objects are in the medicine cabinet, its cheese...

Ah books, nothing is more enjoyable then cuddling next to my oversized stuffed banana and reading about Human Resources and International Monetary Economics.

His name? Tsutomu. He's a mascot, for life.

Here we are at my bookshelves. On the top you can see my video equipment. Followed by some school books and behind my bed which you can't see, my extensive collection of Option magazines. It's comforting to know that if an earthquake hits (which is frequently does, I've been through two since moving to this place) this bookshelf will come toppling upon my legs as I sleep, effectively pinning me to save me the trouble of being able to escape to save my life.

I keep shoes here.

Laundry basket as well.

This is my favorite part of the mansion, the view. Most people would be upset living next to the highway, I'm happy to hear the various cars speeding down the road at night while I guess which car it is just by the exhaust note.

Looking left out the window slightly you can see the the highway offramp. In the distance, you can see the downtown skyscaper section of Yokohama. Under the highway, it's actually the ocean. Technically I live right on the coast, but there is alot of man-made land extending farther out.

This is looking right out the window. That is the main street next to my building which you could actually follow all the way to Tokyo. In the distance you can see the "suburbs" of Yokohama.

And lastly, to the far left out the window you can see JVC's headquarters office sitting on fake land. Farther beyond that, JVC has one of their factories making TVs and stereos that likely end up in your BestBuy.

Alas, this is the end of our tour. This is where I live. Thanks for checking it out. LOL
Mason on 12.07.08 @ 04:24 PM PST [link]

Another Visit to Daikoku

mood: Good

shocked I used to live in Tokyo in a small section called Kokubunji. I stayed there for my entire first year living here too. The problem with that place was, while it was officially in Tokyo, it was still over an hour by train to my university. For that reason, I moved to Yokohama, the second biggest city in Japan. I've been here for about a year and I gotta say, this place is nice. That's not what today's post is about though, we'll do that another day. What I wanted to talk about was the close proximity of my new apartment and Daikoku-futo. If you recall from an earlier post or maybe from other websites or videos, Daikoku is a huge parking area in the middle of a man-made island on the ocean. It's famous for car meets and even has an area utilized by drifters for some street drifting action. It just so happens by luck that my new house is about a mile or two away from it.

Because of this, I get a chance to go stop by Daikoku almost every weekend. Before, it took me $15 in tolls and an 45 minutes to drive to Daikoku, now only 6 minutes and $6. I rustled through my cameras old pics and found some archives of the first expedition to Daikoku after moving. I took my friend Mark (who you might've seen on youtube as MarkFrankJPN) and headed out.

Right of the bat I knew this was going to be a good night. This FC belongs to a car club called "No style". I wonder if they fully understand the meaning of the term?

I parked my R32 next to the FC. You can see my R32's fresh new face (I happened to remove the prior face by sliding it into a guardrail on the touge in Hakone awhile back).

These guys are actually here pretty often. Fully done up exteriors and I'm assuming some engine work as well. The S15 has "NOB" written on the window, could it be the famed D1 driver's personal car? Anyway, that FD's full RE Amemiya aero kit made me pretty happy. I later looked it up on their site, that kit doesn't come cheap! crazy

I like the new GTR. Enough said.

Man was my first dream car. Their body lines are so amazing. Apparently everyone in Japan with cars are super rich though cause this guy is sporting RE Amemiya aero as well.

Ohhh man don't let me get started about this guy. Sometimes you'll run across some small k-car with way too many strobing neons but this guy was on a whole other level. Instead of describing him to you in detail, just watch Mark's video.

Look at the front. What the hell? Is he serious? The interior has a Batman Returns theme too, nooo idea why.

How much did this cost? This thing is insane!!

Ok back to some normal cars. This Soarer is nice and clean. I know that when the D1 Driver Ueno started sporting the Soarer it spurred a huge popularity increase in the states, but I wonder if it was always a popular tuning platform in Japan.

I just can't stop taking pictures of GT-Rs. Damnit!

It's actually kinda uncommon to see drift cars come to Daikoku PA. The drift spot at Daikoku is separated completely and while they may be within feet of each other, to access the other requires quite the long drive. You must come in by surface streets to the drift spot while the PA is connected within the highway system. Regardless, I like this S13.

The front end is clean too. The Halogen headlights fit the lines of the S13 far better then the projectors in my opinion. Car also has a nice carbon hood and a roll cage, looks like he means business.

Oh my favorite! Two Hakosukas out for a stroll. Hearing them in person is quite unbelievable. I can only imagine what it must've been like to hear it in the 70's when all the other normal Japanese cars sounded so boring.


I almost NEVER see NSXs come out, especially completely aero-ed up ones. This reminds me of the exact same one out of Tokyo Extreme Racer that I played in High School. It's nice to say the least. It's a shame they're so super expensive.


I've been putting some thought into selling my R32 and getting a Mark2 like the one parked next to this NSX. What do you think?

What the hell happened to that FD's doors? No, that's not right. R34 is right though.

More R34s are more right.

BAM! Right in your face. I wish I lived in an alternate universe where Nissan offered this car to the US market.

It's quite an expansive parking area with highways winding around the center. I've never seen anything like this in California, crazy.

What the?

How much money do these people have!?

Well that's enough of Daikoku. Just for kicks Mark and I thought it'd be fun to get off the highway and drive around Shibuya. I've walked the area a thousand times but never experienced the insane traffic for myself.

That's the Shibuya station entrance in the distance.

This intersection is the same intersection where the characters "drifted" in Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. It's not nearly as exciting in person as it seemed in the movie. Then again I wasn't drifting through a crowd of people while angry Japanese people chased me with guns.

Anyway, now that I live so close to Daikoku, I'll be sure to share more of the cool and strange cars that come out. Thanks for reading! cool eh? big grin
Mason on 12.07.08 @ 01:49 PM PST [link]

Old School Japanese Sportscar Dealership

mood: Amazed

So one day while driving on the Wangan as I do from time to time, I looked in front of me and saw a strange collection of flashing lights. As I approached closer, I soon saw around forty power-ranger-esque police officers barricading the road. As it turns out, the street racing on the highways around Tokyo has become a big problem and the cops are out in force to try to stop it. On a popular turn-around interchange leading back into the Tokyo C1 loop, the police set up a check point where they stop any cars appearing to be illegally modified. I'll explain more about this in another post, but in short, my car's registration was revoked for several points of illegal modification. One of those points, was being too low. This brings us to today's post. I sometimes frequent Weld (a famous tuning shop) to check on parts and to see their amazing showroom. This time, I needed to stop by Weld to see if they had any stock R32 suspension I could borrow to fix my car with.

Unfortunately they didn't, and I had to resort to less conventional means to "adjust" the ride height of my car. On the drive home from Weld, a glimmer off an unmistakable shape caught my attention. My senses are fine tuned to notice any tuning cars driving about, even more finely tuned to notice oldschool Skylines such as the sexy Hakosuka.

Much to my giddy delight, I had noticed a Hakosuka Skyline hanging out at an oldschool Japanese sportscar dealership. It was already night and they had closed up for the day, but I sure wasn't going to miss the chance to caress and inspect so many rare vehicles sitting together in one place.

Right in the front, one of my true loves from before I was born was parked, enticing me with its alluring and timeless body lines. We of course know this car as the Datsun 240Z in the states, but here it's known as the S30 Fairlady Z (which I'm sure most of you knew already). This beast of a car had the sticker set at just shy of $19,000. Taken back by the price? Don't be, it's got barely any km on the odometer and it's been modified with the rarest of parts in the cleanest manner possible.

I walked a little behind the first S30 Fairlady to see a close twin S30 in the same perfect red color. To the left of the first S30 I found an ever rare Mazda RX-3. RX-3? Yea, there were plenty of RXs before the RX-7 and RX-8. Personally, I've only seen a chassis of one in the states, and this was the first chance for me to see a full one in person.

Look at the perfect lines... just perfect. These oldschool cars are referred to as "Kyuusha", which directly translates into "older version" and "car", or simple "oldschool car".

Back view of the Mazda RX-3. Dang.

Behind the 2nd S30 Fairlady there was the ever-awesome Hakosuka Skyline. This ones a 4-door model selling for around $18,000. Next to it on the left lies another older Skyline of which I can't define. If you recognize it, please email and let me know which one it is.

Here's a front view of the dealership with a long line of kyuusha just hanging out and making me cry tears of joy.

Another red S30 (was it that popular of a color back then?) with a slightly different front end and a more expensive $22,000 price tag.

A closer view of the RX-3. $20k is a lot of money for a car almost double my age. I also think this deep green is a timeless color for cars of that era. I'd love to paint a car that color someday.

Purple S30 Fairlady. $20k.

Another 4-door Hakosuka for a cheap $15,000. I plan to pick one up and import it in the next 5 years or so. Did you know that there is no import restrictions on these older Hakosuka Skylines? If you really want to be different and have a car almost noone else has, import one of these.

Aw, this car hold a special place in my heart. A friend of mine had one in high school for a short while and I have oh so many memories of pushing it down the road or getting high from the fumes of its leaking gas system. This car is known as the Datsun 510 in America and the Nissan Bluebird in Japan. This beast used to run alongside the Hakosuka and had the Toyota Corona as its rival. It evolved to the nowday Nissan Sylphy.

Here we have another Bluebird in that old green color. This is the first car I found that was under $10k with it's $9,300 price tag.

Here we have a the old Nissan Sunny. I believe (not certain) this is the B110 model with some aero parts added. This car never really came to the states but is old enough that you could legally import it. It later evolved into the Nissan Sentra, which is unfortuantely FWD and a complete disapointment in every way.

Here we have another Nissan Bluebird, but this time, it's a wagon in puke yellow. I have a personal grievance against wagon sportscars. I have the firm belief that you should seperate your car utility needs from your speed needs. You shouldn't go throw your golden retrievers in the back of your car for a quick spin to Costco, followed with a stop by the track. It makes your car look like it has some unexpected disfiguration. This is why the new Subaru STi gave me a strong desire to defecate upon its hood when I first saw it at the Tokyo Motor Show last year. Stop buying wagons so auto manufacturers get the idea that it's a wrong life choice.

A more basic yet clean white S30 Fairlady with under 20k km on the odometer. These cars are so sexy. I'm so glad that the new Nissan Z34 370Z has adopted the S30's traditional body lines.

Looking ahead from the white S30. The dealership is actually pretty small in size, but they sure fit in quite a few awesome cars.

Oldschool style fender flares with fat Watanabe wheels in black. It's hard to make a car look that good.

I wanted to get a close-up of the price tag on that RX-3. This car was made in 1974.

In addition to the outside selection of cars, they had an indoor showroom as well. Got a BMW for some reason on the right, a Bluebird SSS in the middle, and I have no idea on the left but it's suuuuuuper expensive ($40k).

Closer view of that Bluebird. The Bluebird offered a special edition in those years dubbed the SSS (stands for Super Sports Sedan). In Japan they offered this as the SSS-E, which had Nissan's first electronic fuel injection. All production cars prior to it were equiped with carburetors.

You're probably wondering, "gee, what's the name of this awesome and sweet dealership?" They're called Flex Auto Review and you can view their website here. After leaving this dealership, I was enlightened to the fact that these sorts of dealerships of not that uncommon. When I get the chance, I'll be sure to check out others and share it with all of you. I love Japanese cars, but man, oldschool Japanese cars are the best. Old cars in general are really interesting and it's like hitting a pot of gold by accident coming across places like this. If you ever come to Japan and you stop by Weld, ask about this place, it's only a stone's throw away from them.
Mason on 12.07.08 @ 11:58 AM PST [link]