カテゴリー別アーカイブ: オークハウス吉祥寺2

The last party at Kichijoji 2

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Four years and Ten days. That’s how long I’ve lived in Oakhouse Kichijoji 2. So many things happened during this period and it changed the course of my life.
My housemates and I decided to plan a big farewell party before I move out of this house.
When we plan a party, we usually think of a theme. Birthday party, Farewell party, welcome party, something like that. but this time, the theme was “strawberry”. I don’t really know why. I guess someone in the house craved for strawberries.
Anyway, the this was the invitation.

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Writing down party theme, time and location, people coming on the shared whiteboard is our party tradition in the house. We also make it “bring your own food” and we never collect money from guests. This way we can welcome the last-minute guests and the ones who don’t show up.

Preparing for party

The party was scheduled to start at 8pm but our housemate Maud was there the whole afternoon to prepare for her cakes and muffins. I came down around 6pm to cook some hard shell tacos. Our Thai iron chef, Win was cooking Thai grilled chicken which smelled so good. There was so much food on the talbe by 8pm and people started showing up.

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I was surprised to see how many people showed up after 30 mins. The living room was full of our guests!!

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Lots of people with lots of food. I’m glad my tacos ran out very quickly. I have to say Win’s grilled chicken was fantastic and it was only available for 10-15 mins.
There are tables, chairs, sofa in the room so our guests can take any seats available. Some people were standing and that’s OK too. There were more than 20 people at the party so there weren’t enough chairs anyway.

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Me and my wife Momo had some birthday presents for the birthday girls and boys. For Batiste and Maud, I got them a baguette-looking cushion and slippers. They look perfect with real French, right? This printing is also funny because it looks so real in pictures. I hope they bring this cushions to the airport.

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For my neighbor Yui, we got her a taiyaki eye pillow. Cute, isn’t it? I thought our present has to be something about food.
We unexpectedly got some gifts from our housemates too. Flowers, soft toys for babies, and cute socks!

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and of course, Nintendo Switch time!

It was very nice to party one last time before I leave the house. I lived here for four years and I made countless friends during this time span. These friends I met in this house are not just friends. They are like family to me. I didn’t say goodbye to any of my housemates because I didn’t think this was the situation. I know this friendship will last even if I leave the house.

Thank you, everyone, for the party! See you really soon!

Visiting Win’s Thai Restaurant with housemates

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It’s already in March and it’s the usually the time when we say good bye to some of the housemates. Our dearest housemate, Win is one of the people leaving the house at the end of March. He is going to start schooling in Saitama. He is from Thailand and working as a Thai food chef in Japan. He is super good at cooking and he can reverse-engineer almost any food in the world. It’s almost 100% proven as he sometimes cooks a certain dish for the first time and it somehow ends up good. He will be moving to another Oakhouse sharehouse in Saitama so we may see each other again in the future.

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Win switches his work place every once in a while. I know at least 3 restaurants he worked. I’ve visited all three of them. All good. He only works in the restaurant that serves good food. Besides, he told me there will be a legendary Laos chef who used to work in a famous restaurant in Tokyo. I have no idea why he is working in a small restaurant like this but Win seems to admire him. At this point, I knew I had to visit this restaurant.

Win is the last Thai guy leaving the house which means we’re going to miss his Thai food a lot. Me and a bunch of people in Oakhouse Kichijoji 2 decided to visit his Thai restaurant in Asagaya before he leaves Tokyo. On the national holiday of 21st in March, we visited this place for dinner.

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“Savaidee” is the name of the Thai restaurant located within walking distance to Asagaya station. Great location, 5 mins by walk, and all the dishes are reasonably priced.

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Almost all the menu are either 580 Yen or 680 Yen.

As you can see on the top photo, it is not a big restaurant, only around 20-25 people can fit. There are not only Thai food but also a bunch of other south East Asian foods as well.
My favorite dish here is the Pupappon curry. It’s a curry with soft shell crabs. Amazingly delicious. I know I can eat this food every single day.

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Win is genius in making original sauces. He just knows what to mix for the right food. We ordered some Thai spring rolls and it came with a chili sauce. My favorite sauce for the night was the “Laos sauce” which came with steamed glutenous rice. It literally made my day. It doesn’t taste like anything I’ve tasted before yet it was addictively goes well with rice.

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The whole meal was about 1500 Yen each. It was shockingly inexpensive for the amount of food we ate and also the quality of food we shared. It always makes sense to share the food as we get to try many kinds of dishes at once.
I’ll definitely come back to this place and recommend my friends.

It is very sad that I don’t get to see Win anymore in this restaurant. I know it won’t be the same without him.

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Photo by Batiste Perron

If you plan to stay somewhere accessible to Asagaya, make sure to visit this place. This is probably the best Thai restaurant you can find in Tokyo. Here’s where it is. Enjoy!

Apartment or share house? Look at the long-term cost to compare

Looking for an apartment in Tokyo is such an ordeal for most people, not just for people who come to Tokyo for the first time in their lives but also for people who has lived in Tokyo for years. I, for example, have been in Tokyo for four years and Oakhouse Kichijoji 2, one of the Oakhouse shared houses, has been my house.
I recently got married and a baby girl is on the way. I realized that I might not be able to stay in this house anymore, simply because of the size.

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My housemates in the living room in Kichijoji 2

To be extra clear on this topic, Kichijoji 2 is a house big enough to fit around 20 people to live with. There are about 18 private rooms (each around 10sqm, or 6 Tatami) and 1 dormitory room where 4 people share bunk beds. There is a big common space including a living room with two sets of couch, kitchen, shower rooms and laundry space, even a backyard!

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Backyard BBQ in summer in Kichijoji 2

The size of the house as a whole isn’t a problem here and my wife and I don’t mind sharing a house with other people. We actually love it. It’s fun, convenient, easy to hang out in the common room etc… It’s the lifestyle that I’m going to have in a few months. I am having a baby. and this… is a game changer.
My wife and I talked about this many times. We thought about staying in Kichijoji 2 because we love the life in here but we finally agreed to move out. The private room isn’t big enough for a family like us.
Soon after, I started looking for an apartment. I started by looking into websites where real estate companies updates every single day. This is almost the only way to look for apartments in Japan. It’s fairly easy and efficient to go through with this process as long as you can read Japanese. Go to the websites and search by the conditions. There are many conditions you can choose, like rent range, Train line, Station name, location (how close from a near-by station). I save the apartments that I’m interested, contact the local company who’s posting the information, make an appointment via email or phone call, check out the house to see if you really like it.
I repeated this process again and again for two months. Here’s what I learned.

1. An initial cost is a bitch
Let me get straight to the point. It costs around 5-6 months of rent to move in an apartment in Tokyo. That’s how much you need to spend just to move in. Let’s assume you’re looking for an apartment. For one room apartment in Tokyo, 70,000 Yen is the average rent. Here’s how much it costs.

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(Currency = YEN)
Rent (first month): 70,000
Management fee: 3,000 to 5,000
Deposit: 70,000~210,000 (one to three months of rent)
Key money: 0~140000 (one to two months of rent)
Agent charge: 70,000 (one month of rent + 8% tax)
Insurance: 10,000~20,000
Key exchange fee: 20,000
Cleaning fee: 50,000 to 60,000

In total: 300,000~400,000

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In my case, the rent range was around 100,000 because I was looking for a family size apartment. The total cost for the first month was around 500,000 to 600,000. I was very surprised to see this number at first but I was even more surprised that almost all the apartment in Tokyo charge this much. First, this is a lot of money for just moving in an apartment. It really doesn’t make sense to pay this much if you’re only planning to stay there for short term (short as in even for a year). Just remember, most of the money you pay here doesn’t come back when you move out of the house. I hear the deposit doesn’t fully come back in many cases.

2. No houses are equipped with furniture or electronics
There are none. People who rent a house are expected not to leave anything behind when they leave the premises. They have two choices. To throw away all the furniture or somehow find someone who want them. What a waste! In Japan, no one likes a furnished house.

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My room in Kichijoji 2 (Oakhouse rooms are equipped with enough things)

So, you need to buy everything when you start renting an apartment.
To fully and nicely furnish a house (as big as 45sqm), it costs more than 600,000 yen even if you try hard to buy everything online. I know this because I furnished two Airbnb houses from scratch last year. Even if it’s a smaller apartment, it would cost at least 400,000 yen. Money, money, money…

3. Contract renewal fee
This is the most mysterious, irrational fee I know in my life. Basically, this is the payment you need to pay every two years to renew the existing contract. Let’s say you’ve been living in a 70,000 Yen room for two years. To continue living in this apartment, you need to pay one month of rent additionally to the rent. Of course this fee never comes back to you. Some people try to leave the apartment without renewing the contract, simply because they don’t want to pay. but these people have to pay for initial cost (which is usually much more than the renewal fee) to move in other apartments anyway. So, not renewing the contract isn’t always a good idea.

As you already have noticed, the cheapest way to live in Tokyo is this. “Find an apartment so perfect that you have no reason to move out and live there for the longest you can”.

I was so desperate to know that it costs this much to start renting an apartment in Tokyo.

I tell you what I did to avoid all those fee I mentioned above. Oakhouse actually run many apartments in Tokyo and they’re quite reasonably priced. and moving from Oakhouse sharehouse to another share house doesn’t cost you much. The moving fee is as low as 10,000 Yen to 30,000 Yen (depending on where you are and where you’re moving to).

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Tachikawa garden town. This is where I’m moving in.

I chose to move in one of the Oakhouse Apartment called “Tachikawa Garden Town” and I paid 30,000 yen for an initial cost. This is ridiculously cheaper than all the other options I had.
I think Oakhouse is doing a great job here.

Good luck finding a good apartment!

Shima

How to upgrade the common space in the way you like it

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A common space in a share-house is somewhat special in every share-house in Japan. It is not space entirely belongs to you but it is the space you can use whenever you want. This contradicting concept applies in our house, Oakhouse Kichijoji 2 where at least 10-15 people come to living room every day to use kitchen or living room.

No personal stuff in the common space but…

Some cook and dine, some watch TV or movies, some bring a laptop and work on something. It is a multi-purpose space and it’s very nice to have it. but you might want to somehow upgrade the house in the way you like it. For example, how about putting games in it? Is it even allowed? One ground rule… is that Oakhouse usually doesn’t allow anyone to put any personal stuff in the living room but there are some exceptions. Although it is not specifically said, it is generally OK to put things as long as it’s something that you use with other housemates. Books, for example, are kept in a bookshelf in the living room. An electric piano and a guitar belong to me but I share with other housemates. It is generally fine as long as “the stuff” doesn’t make the common space look messy.
This is just something I noticed in Kichijoji 2. It might not apply to other Oakhouse share houses.

A new toy

I give you an example. Here’s what I got on the other day. Jenga! I love Jenga and I used to play the game with my family every once in a while. At some point, I thought “I haven’t played that game for the longest time”
So I got it on Amazon and it was delivered on the next day.

Jenga or any type of game including board games doesn’t really make sense to keep it in your private space. So I put it in the living room. See what happened.

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Again, this might be the only case in Kichijoji 2 house and I might get in trouble for writing this tips lol

Think of something that benefits everyone in the house

Our living room is about 30sqm (around 18 tatami) in size, big enough to do most things you can imagine. Oakhouse might have rules to maintain the house but it’s not natural if there’s nothing at all. I guess it makes sense to put things that anyone in the house can use. Oakhouse doesn’t throw away things right away. My advice would be to try putting something in the common space and see if anyone in the house or an Oakhouse manager says something.

Anyway, the common space is something very useful. Hope every Oakhouse residents use in a nice way.

Nintendo Swtch might be the best form of share house entertainment!

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Nintendo Switch is probably one of the most successful game consoles ever built. It has been sold out for 10 months in Japan now. I waited 9 months to get my own Switch. I hear it’s not so difficult to buy one in other countries for some reason, though.
Anyway, two of us in Oakhouse Kichijoji 2 owns a Switch now, including me. Both of us, Sam and I have been playing Switch for quite some time but last week was the first time we played the game called “One-two Swtich”. It is one of the first games that Nintendo released at when they launched in March, 2017. It is supposed to be the game that demonstrates the true potentials of what Switch can really do.

Basically, one-two switch is a collection of mini-games. We first played the one called “quick draw”. It’s a game that two players hold each controller and try to shoot the other when the game says FIRE!

Switch controllers have gyro sensors which measure angles of Switch quire accurately. You end up shooting the ground if you’re too quick to pull the trigger (button). You have to point the controller to your opponent and fire only at the right angle.
The most interesting/innovative part of this game is that you’re supposed to look at your opponent’s eyes, and not the screen.
I’ve heard of this system but I only fully understood how it works when I played it by myself. I like this idea because it feels like you’re having an eye contact with a real person and it makes the whole gaming experience much more live and meaningful.

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This is when they’re waiting for the sign.

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The moment of “FIRE!” then you shoot the opponent.

As you can see, above, it was just stupidly fun even though it was such a simple game.
After you shoot, the Switch tells the recap of the shooting angle and the timing.

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This time was a miracle? Two players shot exactly at the same time. What are the odd??

One more remarkable thing about this game is that you don’t have to be good at gaming to have fun.
In fact, girls were better at it when we played.

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Only two people can play this game at once and there were about 8 people in the living room when we started playing. So we came up with the tournament.

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Tournament! We just simply wrote down our names on the whiteboard and did a tournament so that everyone can play.
It was a good idea because this game is not only fun when I’m playing but also when I’m watching other people play.

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Playing Switch with housemates is so much fun. I think Oakhouse should buy one console in every house!

20cm of snow in Tokyo! and here’s what happened

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Yesterday was such a memorable day. The day it snowed in Tokyo and it was SO MUCH SNOW!
More than 20cm of snow and it’s been 4 years since it snowed last time. It usually doesn’t snow so much in Tokyo. Usually once or no snow within a year. but yesterday was exceptional.

Many things were going on. Let me show you one by one.
It was cloudy in the morning but it wasn’t snowing at that point. I headed to my office in Shibuya and there was no problem.
It was that there was a sign in the station saying “trains are expected to be affected by snow”.

It started snowing by noon and it only got heavier and havier. My colleagues started canceling meetings in the afternoon and that was a good call. It didn’t take too long to hear the company-wide announcement saying the trains might stop due to the snow and everyone in the office should go home by 3 pm. The announcement was thorough. It also said the entire office is going to shut down at 6pm. This is when I realized that this snow thing really is a big deal.

I left my office at 2:30 pm and the train was already a bit late. A few hours later, my housemate shared a photo of the Shibuya station.

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Then I found photos on Twitter.

I have never ever seen anything like this…

People often describe Tokyo as a convenient city to travel. Thanks to the train lines (way too many of them), usually there are multiple routes to get to the same destination. But this isn’t the case when it snows too much. Tokyo simply isn’t built for this.

The same thing happened when there was a huge earthquake on March 11th, 2011. Millions of people couldn’t go home because the trains stopped.

This time, fortunately, it wasn’t as bad as it was before. The trains started moving (slowly) a few hours later and everyone did go home eventually, except for the ones who were scheduled to land at the airport though. One of my friends only went home on the day after.

In the meanwhile, I was at home finishing my work of the day. I’m glad that my job happened to be remote-friendly. I was happy to stay indoors but I took a walk to Inokashira park with a housemate anyway. After all, it was such a special and a beautiful day.

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A snowy inokashira park (left), a bridge at the late (middle), the inokashira lake (right)

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And also, these people were also having a good time.

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If you see snow in Tokyo, you know what to do now.

Cottea’s party on Christmas

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I wrote about my housemate Joon who started a company while living in Oakhouse Kichijoji 2. (He still lives in our house too!)
His business is called “Cottea” and I wrote more about his business here.

Some of us who live in the house were actually involved in early stages. Maud as a UI/UX designer designed the logo and helped him build the website, and also did the art direction. Shohei, a professional event organizer, help Joon in his store once in a while. I’m mainly working on the online marketing, writing and editing their online contents.

Joon and his business partner Seongwon invited me to their party last week celebrate their success and Christmas.
I realized that there are many people involved to launch Cottea. It was great getting to know their web developer and interior designer who did a great job on their website and the store in Aoyama.

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The party was held in Seongwon’s tower mansion in Kachidoki. There was a party room where they booked in advance for us.

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The two guys in the white shirt are Joon(left) and Seongwon(right). They were in the same unit when they were in the army in Korea.

Joon and Seongwon brought a cake for me and Momo (my wife) because we recently got married. It was very nice of them!
I’m so glad that I met Joon in Oakhouse. When we met, we had no clue that we will be working together like this. Living in Oakhouse gave me opportunities to meet all these cool people. I really appreciate this.

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The cake we shared after the meal. It was delicious!

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At the end of the party, we did some game and received their gift. It was Cottea’s coffee!

Visit their coffee shop in Shibuya if you’re around Shibuya, or simply come to our house Kichijoji 2 for a cup of coffee.

Shima

House party: theme “Yama-chan”

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There are certain foods you always crave for every once in a while. In my case, it’s Yama-chan, a chicken wings restaurant or izakaya. I was born and raised in Aichi and Yama-chan is from there. I wasn’t really a big fan of the chicken wings when I was a kid but I changed my mind after I moved to Tokyo almost 4 years ago. Yesterday a bunch of us in Oakhouse Kichijoji 2 got yama-chan’s chicken wings in Shinjuku, brought back the chicken and had a Yama-chan party in the living room.

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There are three Yama-chan in Shinjuku. “Yasukuni-dori ten” is where we went. Don’t miss this sign!

Chicken wings are great, especially for a midnight snack or movies. But, how about for a dinner? This is what I had in mind before I went to Yama-chan for the first time. Well, it’s probably better to eat some veggies with it to go healthy, but yes, it definitely can be a dinner. We only had Yama-chan’s wings last night and everyone was super happy.

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The Yama-chan’s takeout box. It made sense for us to take out because not everyone wants to drink.

The Yama-chan’s chicken comes with two flavors; “Original salt and peppers” and “Black sauce”. Both flavors are great, but in my opinion, original salt and peppers are the first choice. If you’re getting 20 wings, get 17 original ones and 3 black sauce ones. That’d be the ideal ratio.
You may think the wings are salty and I agree. Yama-chan’s restaurant was originally born as an izakaya, meaning their wings are more like the snacks for beer. Naturally, people like the flavor for drinking. but you can ask the restaurant to make it less salty if you’re health conscious.

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We got about 70 chicken wings for around 6,500 yen. We shared with 4-5 people and it was more than enough!

Today is the Christmas Eve. Japanese people tend to eat chicken on Christmas for some reason I don’t know. KFC is hard to come by around this time of the year lol
Maybe try Yama-chan’s chicken instead?

Happy Christmas Eve!

Shima

Beer pong event!

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If you know what the “Beer pong” is, you have probably spent some time in the States. It’s a collage drinking game started in America. When I studied in the States, I happened to be in the school where the game started. Well, at least that’s what they say. They call it Beirut instead of Beer pong though. but beer pong is a better known term for this game. Of all the drinking game I know around the world, I personally think it is the best game ever.

Here in Oakhouse Kichijoji 2, me and a bunch of my housemate played this game for the first time in the house. It turned out to be a great idea.

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Aiming the cup on the other side…

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Filling cups with beer…

The rule is simple. Put plastic cups on the table like bowling pins and pour a beer in each cup. Then you throw a ping pong ball from the opposite side of the table. Take turns. If you get the ball in, the opponent team has to drink. I honestly think this is the drinking game for share house because it usually gets messy while you play. You don’t want to play this game in your living room.

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The table gets messy as the play goes on…

As the game goes on, it gets harder and harder to get the ball in the cup. Also, you get drunk quickly if your team is losing. Though the funny part is that you never know which team is going to win until the very end of the game. The last cup on the table is always the hardest one to get in. So even if you’re losing at the beginning, you still have a fair chance of winning later on.

Even if you’re not good at it, give it some time to practice. You will get better as you play again and again. This is why I think this game is close to sport. In fact, there is a world championship of beer pong.

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It gets harder and harder as you get drunk.

It was great to be able to play the old drinking game I used to play. Everyone at the party loved the game even though some of them played it for the first time. We’ll probably host this kind of beer pong party sometime soon. Maybe even make it a regular event? Our house is probably the only house you can play beer pong in the entire city of Tokyo. Message me know if you want to join us!

Three musical instruments we have in the common room

If you are someone who likes playing music. Our house Oakhouse Kichijoji 2 might be a place to take a look.

You’d be surprised to hear that many of my housemates in Kichijoji 2 actually play some music. In our house, common room (living room on the first floor) is where people play music. It is probably not a good idea to play music in the private room as it could be noisy for other housemates. On the other hand, playing music in the common room has never been an issue in our house.

It is so much fun when you are playing the piano and your housemates start singing along with you. That’s something you never get to do by living in an apartment.

Today let me show you three kinds of musical instruments we have in the house and how we use them

1. The piano

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The piano probably the most frequently used instrument in the house. At least 4 people I know in the house can play the piano well. One of us is a professional composer so her piano is absolutely amazing. Check out the video below.

Cool isn’t it?
It is an electric piano so you can adjust the volume or even play with earphone.

2. The guitar

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The guitar is often picked and played by our friends and guests. Hagi, an actor and playwright, sometimes playing in the living room. It’s not really a high-end type of guitar but it’s enough to enjoy some music time.

3. The cajón (acoustic drum)

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The cajón is probably something you don’t usually see in the house. It’s one of the acoustic drums. You hit the box-shaped body with your bare hands and make a rhythm. It’s fun to try it but not many people can actually make it sound decent.

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These three instruments are enough to start a band or something. Let me know if you’re interested!