Tokyo Nomad

Life in a share house


Life in a share house

As this is my first blog post perhaps a self introduction is in order. My name is Sangey, I'm a Brit (Englishman) currently living in the Kichijoji area of Tokyo City. Until now I've been living in Japan teaching English for 1 year and 9 months. I first came to Japan on holiday as a teenager and after finishing university made the decision to go back to experience living in this strange foreign land. Japan is a wonderfully amazing experience, even if like me you can barely speak the language, one I would recommend to anyone reading this outside of Japan.

A place to stay
When I arrived in Japan, one of the first things I needed to do was look for a place to stay. I was lucky enough to have an aunt living and working in Japan who I stayed with during my first month. Despite her kind offers saying I could stay at her place as long as I liked, I turned them down, mostly due to space issues (i.e. being a 190 cm giant in a shoebox apartment.) I looked into renting my own place, but with extra fees upfront plus the cost of having to buy my own appliances, furniture, utensils and the need for a guarantor I quickly started looking for alternatives. A coworker and a Japanese friend both suggested looking into share houses. After a little research the rent turned out to be affordable, rooms came furnished with the basic necessities bed, fridge, desk and the most important of all air conditioning. The process of moving in is very foreigner friendly, but what sold me on the share house in the end; there was no need for a guarantor making it very easy and convenient.

Share houses are an a popular alternative for people staying for a short time in Japan, or even as a cheap alternative to hotels until they can organise an apartment of their own.

But for some it more than it becomes a space to meet new people, take part in social gatherings, have discussions about Japanese culture and a testing ground to practice your Japanese. Here are 4 things that I particularly like about living in the share house:

Diversity in the house
Currently in my house we have a diverse mix of residents in our house of 20, just going from memory we have an American, a Canadian, A Brit (me!), 6 French people, 3 Thai, a Russian and the remainder being Japanese. The house is always a a buzz with chatter often in various languages. With people constantly moving in and out of the house there always an opportunity to meet more people each with their own story.

IMG_4128 Our share house enjoying themselves at a party

A place for people to socialize
As for social events in the house so far there have been Thai style dinners, Beer pong nights, Barbeque's in the garden, pizza parties, movie nights watching your favourite anime movies and even the occasional surprise birthday party. As I'm sitting in my lounge I can see a notice for an Italian cheese party (because why not?) Just remember to be mindful about being too noisy.

A cultural exchange
If you are coming to Japan to study Japanese you will often find Japanese residents who are extremely eager to practice their English as well as there are few opportunities for Japanese people to regularly talk to native-English speakers. Which has also been a huge blessing whenever I've had questions from being confused about what I bought from the convenience store to asking for explanations about the finer points of Japanese culture helping me navigate my way through the everyday interactions in Japan.

IMG_4738 Shima is keeping Sam's glass full at all times.

A place for very human connections
Living in the share house for me personally has been wonderful, interesting and sometimes downright weird. The one thing that I can about them all are they were all unique. I've had Japanese people explain (or at least try to) the delicate dance that is Japanese flirting, I've had arguments with animators about the best animated movies and people tell me their reasons for moving to Tokyo and what drives them to do what they do. Even now as I'm writing this my friends are practicing together on a small guitar singing "seasons of love" for no reason other reason than their own and perhaps my entertainment.

After reading this you may be thinking that a share house life sounds grand and fun (which it is) however it is not without its challenges. If you have ever lived in shared accommodation before you'll be well acquainted with the pitfalls of sharing space with people who have very different ideas of cleanliness or what is and isn't acceptable.

But I assure you, if you keep an open mind and with a little patience you can have a very unique and a wonderful experience living in a share house. Where a band of strangers can, over time, become a small tight knit community and even a family.

IMG_4769 Mostly everyone having a great time.
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My name is Sangey Lama and i'm currently living in the Oakhouse 2 in Kichijoji, I work as an English teacher in Japan where I teach anyone from Salarymen to Kindergarden students. I spend my free time reading sci-fi books, cooking large meals with/for my housemates and when the season is right snowboarding on one of Japan's many mountains.

Life in Japan is weird and wonderful a lot of the time, where the people are extremely friendly and helpful. Beautiful country views and vast sprawling cityscapes where I you can find almost anything if you can imagine it. The place to be if you want to experience a different way of life and a chance to rediscover yourself.