カテゴリー別アーカイブ: オークハウス吉祥寺2

How to get SIM card for long-term travelers

Let’s say you decided to move in one of the houses in Tokyo. What’s the next step?
Regardless of the purpose of your stay, getting a mobile internet connection is probably one of the things on the top of your To-do list. The first 2-3 days should be fine as all the Oakhouse share houses offer free WiFi in the lounge (common space), but there will be moments that are troublesome not being able to be connected outside.

The first problem you encounter would be transferring trains. Living in Tokyo doesn’t require you to own a car. I don’t own one, so as most of my friends here. but taking the train might require some time to get used to.

I’ve been in Tokyo for 3 years but still in need of these train apps once in a while. At least the trains are on time most of the time which help those apps stay accurate.

(There are multiple train transfer apps in the market. and I recommend English version of NaviTime For Android users, cleck here. )

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I’ve been asked many times how to set up mobile internet SIM in Tokyo, mostly by my housemates who live in Oakhouse Kichijoji 2. In this post, I’d like to give you a step by step guide on how to sigh up for SIM card in Tokyo.

◼︎ 1. Check if your phone is unlocked (or SIM free)

You need an unlocked phone to sign up with SIM card in Japan. Checking whether your phone is unlocked or not, entirely depends on where you bought your smartphone. If your phone was provided by a phone company like Softbank, or AT&T, your phone might not be an unlocked. On the other hand, if you’re from certain Asian countries like China, Hongkong, Taiwan, Singapore, the phones in the market are mostly unlocked, so there’s nothing to worry about.

◼︎ 2. Prepare a credit card and a proof of residence

Most SIM card providers require credit card payment. That means you need to have a credit card available in Japan. Most worldly famous brands like VISA and Master card work in Japan but I hear that some cards don’t work sometimes. If your phone is debit card directly connected to your bank in your home country, your card probably doesn’t work even if it has a VISA or Master logo on the face of the card.

Proof of residence might be required depending on which SIM card provider you sign up with. This means you need to apply for SIM card after you move in the house and get Zairyu (residence) card. Even after you get Zairyu card, DO NOT FORGET to register your address in the city hall. You need to have your address printed on your residence card (they go through this process in the city hall).

◼︎ 3. Choose the SIM card brand and sign up online (or visit their local store)

There are more than 20 – 30 SIM card providers (we call them 格安SIM = literally means cheap SIM ) in the market. Despite the number of options, it is not hard to choose one.

There are 3 major phone contractors in Japan, docomo, au, and Softbank. Basically they built the mobile network in the country and now they are leasing the network to those SIM card providers.

docomo is the oldest and got the best quality network in this country so I recommend the SIM card providers using docomo’s network.

I’ve been personally using the brand called “IIJ mio” and I’ve been happy with the service. I recommended this brand to many friends. The only problem with this brand is that they don’t have English website or any kinds of support in English. they don’t have a local store so it’s hard to ask for help as long as you’re already fluent in Japanese.

IIJ mio

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My second choice would be Rakuten Mobile. They have English website and they have local store as well. Rakuten is one of a few Japanese companies where employees have to speak English in the company, so I expect their local store staff to speak English too.

Rakuten Mobile

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Hope you find my guide above helpful. Message me here (guafly2002@gmail.com) if you have any questions.

Eating food helps you build relationships!

Eating.
Without it, we, human beings can’t live.

Eating good foods.
Without it, I can’t live…

Hello, everyone.
March, the month of beginning of spring, has come.
In Japan, It is still cold but it will be warm soon. (I hope…)

As I have written at the beginning, I like eating.
Today, I will write about “foods” in my daily lives here in Oakhouse Kichijoji 2

There is a kitchen in our common space.
Pots, pans, knives, tablewares, microwave, teapot…various stuff in the kitchen.
We can use all of them freely. We “share” them.
When I lived an apartment previously, I couldn’t afford an oven. If I want to cook something I need to use an oven, I couldn’t.
But, now, I can make a gratin and bake a pie !
I think this is one of the merits of living in share house.

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Quiche I made with the oven

What we are sharing is not only the cooking stuff.
Sometimes, we share foods too.
On the other day, I made Kenchin-jiru (Japanese soy source flavored vegetable soup) , and shared with some housemates.

In our house, there are various people who come from a lot of countries.
10 Japanese, 3 Thai, 2 Korean, 1 American, and 1 Russian.
They often cook their country’s foods and they also sometimes share the foods they cook.

A pasta dish made by Daniele(Italian), Kimuchi Chige made by Joon(Korean), Tacos made by Daniel (American), and Green curry made by Ken(Thai)…

We get to try foods from different countries around the world.

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Win, he is one of the best chef in our house!

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Searing foods and happiness!

Besides, we sometimes share our recipes.
I learned many types of recipes from housemates.
Thanks to it , I have been improving my cooking skill !

For us, it is one of the ways of communication!

If you like cooking or eating, it is fun for you to live share house.

Nice to meet you !

Hello, everyone ! Welcome to my blog !
My name is Hagi !

“What is it like to live in Japan ?”
“What is it like to live in Tokyo ?”
“What is it like to live in shearhouse ?”

I guess you have questions like that. It is difficult to imagine the life in shearhouse. Actually, I couldn’t imagine before I live here.
So, I will introduce the shearhouse-life in Japan through my daily life !

【Who am I ?】

First, I will write about myself.
I’m a Japanese guy, 27 years old. I was born in Ibaraki prefecture (the north of Tokyo).
I came to Tokyo 9 years ago. I have been in Tokyo since then.

I’m a playwright and director of indie theatrical performance. I mainly create works in my own team “mooncuproof”, and sometimes I do requested writing and directing.

【My life in Oakhouse】
I have lived here since last April, 2016. Before then, I lived in an apartment.

 The reason why I decided to live in a sharehouse is to have a lot of experiences.
I thought living in here with people would give me a lot of ideas for my writing.
And, this idea was totally correct!

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My housemate: Shima and Joon at living room sharing food.

I have a lot of chances to have good conversations with my housemates. Some ideas have come from daily conversation !

What is more, when I feel tired, they encourage me with kind words. (and sometimes with foods they cook !)

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Sometimes we have a party.(This is a last year’s Christmas Party )

【About dormitory】
In Oakhouse Kichijoji 2, there are 18 private rooms and one dormitory in this house. I live in the dormitory.

There are 4 beds, bathroom, small table, kitchen, etc. Now ,there are 3 people in my room, Japanese(me) Korean and Thai.

Our nationality and lifestyle varies. But, sometimes we talk there with some foods and drinks. It is interesting to know various cultures !

I love my life in Oakhouse. I’ll post about my daily lives here.

See you in next post !!

Friend’s party @ Ikebukuro

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Earlier this week, my friend invited me to a party in Ikebukuro. I brought one of the housemates in Oakhouse Kichijoji 2. I also brought a 360 camera called “Theta S”. I just thought it’s a good chance to try this cool camera.

Cafe Noise is located just about 10 mins by walk from Ikebukuro station. Ikebukuro is known as one of the most popular areas of Tokyo. The street around the station is crowded with people. It almost made me feel like I was walking in Shinjuku. The difference is that it’s not as business-like. It’s somewhat in between Shibuya and Shinjuku as I see many signs and neons on the wall of the tall buildings. Walking in the street for 5 mins makes you realize that it is a town for a younger generation.

I did not know Ikebukuro is such a big city.

Here we are, a room full of 30 people were already there at Cafe Noise and here’s the shot.

バレンタインイブ会@池袋 #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Joining the “House’s Line group” is the first thing you should do after you move in

Win (housemate)'s birthday party

Unless you’re fluent in Japanese, making friends in Tokyo is probably one of your many concerns. Japanese people are shy and that’s true. There’s no such thing as “casual talk with strangers”. It’s ironic to say, Tokyo is the most highly populated city in the world.

Once a friend of mine from England asked me. “How do Japanese people make friends?” and I thought… That’s a good question.

Even if you’re fluent in Japanese, you will probably be lonely while your stay in Japan, especially if your stay is longer than a month. That is not always because of the language barrier but the cultural differences.

Following points are what I think it helps you make friends in Tokyo.

◼︎Download Line app

Line is the most widely used messaging app in Japan. It’s like whatsapp or Facebook messenger.

I recommend you to download this app because it triggers unexpected communication with people you meet here.

Most Japanese people use Line app by creating a group. And we usually belong to multiple groups. Line group can be literally any group. It could be a family, close friends, high school friends, housemates, colleagues, or even weekly lunch mates, hiking friends, or traveling mates.

You get a notification every time the member of the group post in the group. (You can turn off the notification by setting) So if you belong to many groups, there’s usually someone posting something. It’s kind of a facebook feed but more closed.

We have this line group in oak house Oakhouse Kichijoji 2. We post things like party schedule next week, Korean town tour, day trip to some island offshore, tuna tasting experience, or hangout in the Disney land ( because one of the housemates works there)

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If you don’t speak Japanese, use this translater as a friend on Line. It works on Line and it’s beautifully seamless. We installed it on our line group too. It also translates other languages. (basically it’s connected to Google translate). The translation isn’t perfect but it helps you understand the conversation.

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◼︎Learn to be a food lover (because it’s worth it)

I’ve traveled more than 30 counties in the world. For me, traveling is not about visiting historical places or shopping something unique, it’s about eating. Eating good food, trying local cuisine that I have never tried gives me the greatest joy.

I think a majority of people in Japan are like me. If we have to choose, we would choose a good food over a good house.

What I want to say is that there are people who really care about food here in this country, more than anything else. Therefore, I think, the food is generally good. And the thing is good food are not just Japanese food. Indian food, Thai food, Chinese food, Italian food are very well accepted here. It’s not the same as local food, but the food often end up very good.

Anyway, that is probably why there’s an ingenious book called “Lunch passport“. It is basically a restaurant guide with coupons but the book covers only a certain area, like shibuya, shinjuku, nakano. The coupon offers such a high discount rate, usually 50% off.

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The idea of this book makes sense. Restaurants want more customers on less busy hours and we all want a big discount (but only a few of us can get this discount because it only applies on weekday lunch hours). If you’re studying Japanse, this book will help you find a good restaurant on low budgets.

Planning a restaurant party would be a great start to hang out with people in the house.

New Year’s calligraphy!

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Calligraphy has always been a part of our life in Japan. We have a curriculum in school and we learn it. There’s even a competition and award for those who are good at writing beautiful letters of Kanji and sometimes Hiragana.

I hated calligraphy class not just because it was hard to write with a thick brush but also because I didn’t see the point in doing it. Why do you want to write anything in such troublesome way when you have a pencil?

I don’t think I fully see the beauty of it, but my understanding of calligraphy is about “cutting off the very moment of life.” It works just like a picture.

Writing a calligraphy is something very close to drawing a picture. There is so much room for expressing something in the letters.

Here my housemates and I decided to write each one’s New year’s resolution by writing a calligraphy in a big white sheet of paper. It was so much fun. It felt like we were in school.

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Thinking about what to write…

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It was kind of embarrassing to write my own new year’s resolusion in public. But as everyone start writing their own, it wasn’t as embarrassing as I imagined.

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other housemates joined us. “there are some missing spots there”

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Katelyn wrote down her name here. This is genius. The kanji in the middle is Tori (bird = one of the 12 animal simbols of Oriental Zodiac.

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Dada~. Done!

Mannequin challenge in Oakhouse!

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It’s getting pretty cold in Tokyo these days (around 8 degrees Celsius). but it gets even colder as the New Year comes along.

Here in Oakhouse Kichijoji 2, we welcomed a couple of new house mates in December. and we also said good bye to our dear friends who are leaving the house soon.

I should also mention that one of our ex-house mates, Jacopo, came back to Tokyo just for a few days and Rodolphe Briand who is a professional opera singer based in Paris stayed here in our house to spend Christmas with his family. Rodolphe and his family brought so much French stuff (cheese of course) for me as he knows that I’m in love with French cheese.

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Rodolphe and the cheese he brought from France.

I decided to host a party on this great occasion and mix all the good people in one place.

One thing that made this party different from previous ones is that we did Mannequin challenge for the first time!

We took the video multiple times and this was the best. It was hard when there are more than a certain number of people. Thanks Jacopo for filming this!

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Messy housemates? No worries…

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My Housemates at party

What’s worse than living with messy housemates? Scattered clothes, occupied floor with whatever junks, unwashed dishes, smelly rooms, maybe roaches… ugh.

Housemate issues are universal. It could bother you even in the country where one of the the most reserved, humble people live. I’d say Oakhouse is doing a fairly good job here.

Where I live, for example, Oakhouse Kichijoji 2 is not really a new share house. The building is old and part of the building is wooden. but, as far as I compare with other share house, our house isn’t dirty. Here’s why it’s this way.

■ Common areas are all taken care of

The biggest reason that we’re not facing a cleanliness crisis is because common areas are well-cleaned by professional cleaners. This includes kitchen, bathroom, shower room, entrance, and hallway. Basically everywhere in the house except your own private room, is taken care of. This means you don’t have to clean. and no need to set up cleaning duty among housemates (which is usually a source of problem because there’s always someone who doesn’t do it).

In my case, I got Roomba in my 10 sqm room. Every single housemate of mine makes fun of me for having Roomba in such a small room but it actually makes sense. Since I don’t need to clean the common areas, all I have to do (or all it matters) is my own room. If Roomba can take care of it, it means I can liberate myself from cleaning. Isn’t this the future???

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My room, cleaned by a hardworking friend.

Anyway, Oakhouse is kind of flexible on rules in general. They tell you rules when you sign up for a room but many of them are negotiable depending on what you’re asking. There are, however, two rules that Oakhouse is very strict about. It sounds kind of random but it makes sense in order to avoid housemate issues.

Rule 1: Shoes into a shoe box.

Leaving your shoes in the entrance area is not a good idea. Oak house doesn’t like this because it looks, obviously, messy. Oak house manager brings some people to the house every once in a while to show how the house actually look like. When they do, they don’t want the messy entrance to be the first thing to show the guest.

What if you don’t follow this rule? Oak house literally throw away your shoes into a trash box. I’m serious.

Rule 2: Do not leave personal stuff in the common area

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There comes a time you’re feeling lazy and you don’t want to wash dishes or leave some kitchen stuff so you can access easily next time. Try not to do this as living room gets messy instantly.

Oak house provides you some basic stuff, futon and furniture, when you sign up for a room. Unless you plan to stay in Oakhouse for many years, you probably don’t need so many stuff in your room. Besides, it’ll be easier to move out if you surround yourself with less stuff.

Oakhouse does try to throw away the personal stuff left in the common area. In most cases, people leave stuff in the common area because something is inconvenient. If that’s the case, tell oak house manager to buy something (like toaster?) for the house. Often times, they buy one for you if it’s not too expensive.

My birthday

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Living in a share house is about sharing fun moments with housemates every once in a while. If you enjoy drinking like me, these moments are another excuse to have a drink too.

October 2nd was my birthday and a bunch of my housemates in Oakhouse Kichijoji 2 celebrated for me. I expected a cake after a birthday song but it turned out to be something little different. Well, I wasn’t totally wrong though.

I don’t know if this is a Japanese thing or not but we call it 顔面パイ (face pie). basically you put cream or cake (usually just cake because you don’t want to hurt anyone) on a paper plate and rub it on someone’s face on surprise. I’ve only seen it on a TV show. It was a first time in my life to be the victim. Yes, it’s such a mess.

And as you can see the picture and the video above, I wasn’t the only victim lol

Do this on someone’s birthday in Japan. It is probably the only occasion you’re forgiven to make such a mess.

For a little more decent nice celebration I got this video from friends living in Europe. They are my ex housemates too.

Is it easy to make friends in a share house? It depends…

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Most people automatically assume that life in a share house is something fun. Maybe because they think it’s easy to make friends in the house. That is somewhat true. It is easy to get to know people because you share a lot more time with your housemates than living by yourself.

That is, however, not always the case. In some share houses, it’s harder to make friends because not many people even come down to the living room to socialize.

■ Not everyone wants to socialize

A single fact I realized after moving in Oakhouse is that a fair number of people living in a share house don’t even want to socialize. For people who want privacy and quiet time, this is good news. For those who expect good social life in a share house, it’s better to keep this in mind.

In every share house, even in my house (Oakhouse Kichijoji 2), there are some people who never interact with anyone in the house.

It was shocking to me at first because I thought people who want to live in a share house are all sociable.

■ Just give out food/drink or organize a food party

What if your house is full of these people and you want to change that? This might be way too simple but I think giving out food /drink is the easiest and the most effective way. When I first moved in, this guy from U.S. gave me a can of beer after we talked a little while about Japanese craft beer. He asked me if I know the specific beer he likes. I said I don’t. and he gave me the can saying I should definitely try one. He became such a good friend of mine after this.

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I shared free donuts today in the house (I often get free stuff from work). There’s a common messaging group we share on Line (app). I posted a message if there’s anyone who want some free donuts.

Organizing a food related party would be a good idea too. But it’s better to go potluck to make sure no one pays too much for too much food.