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Finding housing in Tokyo.

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Finding housing in Tokyo.

Postby keatonatron » Mon 01.22.2007 12:13 pm

I've heard many times how it is difficult for foreigners to find housing in Tokyo. Getting my place in Yokohama was really easy, so I thought it was just a bad rumor. However, the area I live in has many foreigners, so I guess that made it easier.

The other day I went to a housing agency to find a new apartment for when I start school in April. I finally realized how difficult it can be for a foreigner to find housing in Tokyo! However, it wasn't really hard for me, it just took a long time. All I had to do was sit there and flip through the book of listings while the agent ran around calling, e-mailing, and faxing people for me. It was pretty interesting to hear him on the phone...

"Hello, I'm calling from XXXX agency. We have a customer here interested in your apartment, but... he's a foreigner. That's not a problem, is it? Oh, I see. Yes, he's been here for 3 years. Uh-huh, his Japanese is perfect, we've spoken only Japanese this whole time. Oh, I see. Okay, thank you for your time!"

Most of the time he didn't get past "he's a foreigner". Sometimes he would mute the phone and ask me various questions ("How well do you know Japanese law?"), and sometimes the person on the other end would ask my age, nationality, and gender (before refusing, of course :D).

It looked like a pretty tough job for the agent, but I didn't have too bad of a time, and I ended up with a really sweet place 10 minutes out of Shinjuku. Although, I can't help but feeling I'm really lucky that pretty much the only place that worked out just happened to be the perfect one. We were shot down when calling about all the other "just OK" places....
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RE: Finding housing in Tokyo.

Postby kashikoi92903 » Thu 02.15.2007 2:45 pm

Hey, I will going to Tokyo and starting language school in April. What school are you going to?
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RE: Finding housing in Tokyo.

Postby Matsumoto_hideto » Fri 02.16.2007 1:14 am

Nice! How much?

oh btw I wonder how the situation would have went down if you were South American... unfortunately I don't think the situation would have ended up as nicely as it did.
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RE: Finding housing in Tokyo.

Postby hiraikotsu » Fri 02.16.2007 5:02 am

Matsumoto_hideto wrote:


oh btw I wonder how the situation would have went down if you were South American...


What's wrong with South Americans? Not that I am one....
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RE: Finding housing in Tokyo.

Postby Kagemaru » Fri 02.16.2007 6:25 am

keatonatron wrote:
Most of the time he didn't get past "he's a foreigner". Sometimes he would mute the phone and ask me various questions ("How well do you know Japanese law?"), and sometimes the person on the other end would ask my age, nationality, and gender (before refusing, of course :D).


I went through similar pains.

What mystifies me is if or when any benefits are attached to a sale etc.

For example:

Where I live is reknown for it's poor water so I almost installed a filter to my sink only to find that on commencement of tenancy, had I enquired through the agent, I could have had the same filter installed and charged monthly at half the rate.

This was largely my fault too I admit, as I hadn't thoroughly investigated some things, I could have had it. I only found out when I returned to the agency to hand over a document to find the same agent dealing with me offering it to other potential tenants.

He looked very sheepish when I brought it up again, and I managed in the end to have it fitted free.

Or at restaurants cafe's bars etc, I am standing in line waiting to pay, and the person in front is asked something along the lines of:

"Do you have such and such a point card/credit card? If not may I recommend it because of such and such"

Then I reach the counter, pay for my kip, and I am not asked or offered anything.

It's not racism, descrimination or the like I see it as. I believe they fear being involved in a situation with a foreigner where a total communication breakdown is possibly imminent. Yet it doesn't seem to matter how much Japanese I speak. These are experiences in so far as mine, and are generalisations. Something I haven't helped but to observe.

Why this is, I haven't figured out myself, but your episode reminds me so much of it. :)
Last edited by Kagemaru on Fri 02.16.2007 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Finding housing in Tokyo.

Postby Txkun » Fri 02.16.2007 10:26 am

Sometimes news like this appear here too.

A man calls an agency to ask for an house, he fixes appointment and all is going well. At the appointment the house owner finds out that he's a black man. So he just make up some excuse to turn down the man.

I heard this happening for houses and work.

Lately it's also common to see people refusing to go away in rented houses and people that, after entering in an house changes its keys, or rents beds to up to 10/15 poor people. So many here don't want to rent to gaijin since they fear to have problems.
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RE: Finding housing in Tokyo.

Postby tanuki » Fri 02.16.2007 11:10 am

hiraikotsu wrote:
Matsumoto_hideto wrote:
oh btw I wonder how the situation would have went down if you were South American...


What's wrong with South Americans? Not that I am one....


You know, we are used to living upside-down and I guess Japanese don't like people walking on their ceilings.
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RE: Finding housing in Tokyo.

Postby keatonatron » Fri 02.16.2007 12:28 pm

kashikoi92903 wrote:
Hey, I will going to Tokyo and starting language school in April. What school are you going to?


Toho Film School.

Kagemaru: I know exactly what you're talking about! Like at Starbucks, they won't ask me anything, but when the next person gets up to the counter they ask them if they want whipped cream and if they want it to go or not.
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RE: Finding housing in Tokyo.

Postby two_heads_talking » Fri 02.16.2007 12:42 pm

I wonder what would happen, if the agent, didn't emphasize the fact that you are a foreigner so soon? It seems to me like the agent is creating a problem, before their needs to be one..

That's like cold calling in sales and starting off by saying, I know this item is expensive and you probably won't use it, in fact it's green and won't go with any of your funiture, and smells bad too, oh what's that? you don't like green smelly things? well, it's alright, cause it's expensive and you probably won't want it anyways, thanks for your time though.. bye
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RE: Finding housing in Tokyo.

Postby keatonatron » Fri 02.16.2007 1:40 pm

That's Japanese culture for ya.

A friend who had never been to Japan once told me something one of his friends had told him about Japan: Japanese people don't like to be surprised. That's why there's displays of food outside restaurants; people want to know exactly what they're getting. This friend (of my friend) apparently spoke Japanese perfect, and on the phone could sound just like a Japanese person. However, he found that when he finally went to meet a business contact in person, they would be surprised to see a foreigner walk in the door and were totally thrown off. So, he would purposely make mistakes (or talk with an accent) while on the phone to indirectly let the other person know he's a foreigner.

If my housing agent hadn't said anything, it would have just wasted time and set the property owners up for an unpleasant shock later down the road. He and I both knew that my foreignness would be the only real problem, so it made sense for him to bring it up right away.
Last edited by keatonatron on Fri 02.16.2007 1:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Finding housing in Tokyo.

Postby two_heads_talking » Fri 02.16.2007 2:00 pm

I understand that keat, what I meant was that if he brought it up later, or in a different manner, so as not to make it the highlight of the conversation. he is looking for a place to rent, buy, stay and that should be the focus, not whether or not your eyes are round or you have blond hair, or other focus on foreignness.

I know all too well the, not wanting to be surprised. I just don't think that being a foreigner is as big a deal as certain people want to make it.. Like i mentioned above in my example. not once did I even mention what I was selling, but I certainly made sure the person listening would never buy it, even if they had some interest.. Do you see where I am making my example from?
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RE: Finding housing in Tokyo.

Postby Shirasagi » Fri 02.16.2007 2:14 pm

I recall paging through a Chintai, and finding many apartments listed for Sumida-ku. I like sumo, and I thought Ryogoku and Sumida-ku had a nice atmosphere, so I went to a small realtor in Ryogoku and said, in Japanese, that I wanted to find an apartment in the area. The obachan there smiled, bowed, and said there were no openings.

Ultimately, I ended up going to a much bigger agency, and was able to find a decent apartment in my price range in Katsushika-ku, which was fine. And I got my first choice, with nary a problem about being a foreigner. So, I guess I've seen the best and worst the Japanese apartment hunting world has to offer.
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RE: Finding housing in Tokyo.

Postby keatonatron » Sat 02.17.2007 3:47 am

two_heads_talking wrote:
I know all too well the, not wanting to be surprised. I just don't think that being a foreigner is as big a deal as certain people want to make it.. Like i mentioned above in my example. not once did I even mention what I was selling, but I certainly made sure the person listening would never buy it, even if they had some interest.. Do you see where I am making my example from?


What if you were selling some food with peanuts in it and the customer is allergic to them? Would you get to the end of your whole spiel before saying "by the way, you're not allergic to peanuts, are you?" Of course no one has an allergy to foreigners, but many people simply refuse to rent to them. Since that is the only deciding factor when it comes to whether or not the place would be suitable, I think it is perfectly fine to make that the center of the conversation.
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RE: Finding housing in Tokyo.

Postby Infidel » Sat 02.17.2007 4:20 am

I wonder what would happen, if the agent, didn't emphasize the fact that you are a foreigner so soon? It seems to me like the agent is creating a problem, before their needs to be one..


Ultimately, I do the same thing here. People call and I do everything I can to get them to hang up and leave. I've learned from experience that it's better to discourage sales to people that don't really want it, than to mislead them and have to experience their temper tantrums in person.

What's really annoying is people that are only interested in X condition is met. So they call and inquire, ask about a whole lot of things, then 10 minutes into the conversation, right before I get their credit card they ask, btw, is that item X? To which the answer is "no, you didn't request X, X will cost more (if it's even available).

These peeps annoy me. They basically wasted 10 minutes of my time. I'd much rather take care of any critical sales points at the very beginning than the end.
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RE: Finding housing in Tokyo.

Postby Harisenbon » Sat 02.17.2007 7:08 pm

keatonatron wrote:
Kagemaru: I know exactly what you're talking about! Like at Starbucks, they won't ask me anything, but when the next person gets up to the counter they ask them if they want whipped cream and if they want it to go or not.


That's why I start off every conversation at stores in heavy ogaki-ben*
If you throw even the slightest amount of slang into your speech, people will often assume you're fluent, no matter your level.

I was searching for some coins in my wallet at the cashier once and said ちょっと待っとって. The woman working there couldn't believe how fluent I was, even after having heard only one phrase. ;)


* Ok. I really don't have much of a choice, since I can't stop speaking it. :(
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