The merits of choosing to live with people in a share house




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Interview: Sugai (SR Academia Yokohama)

The merits of choosing to live with people in a share house

Yasuro Sugai
From Yokohama. Has stayed in shared housing since he was in high school, first doing an exchange program in France, then sharing a rom in Canada. This is his 4th Oakhouse in 4 years, having stayed at Social Residence Yokohama, SR Academia Yokohama, Gran Takarazuka, and Social Residence Academia Osaka Amagasaki. Currently he works as a vintage watch buyer in both Yokohama and Umeda in Osaka.

4 years in Oakhouse, with two home bases

I see you active on Oak Memories, and at events! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me.

Sugai (Yasuro)
I'm a regular on Oak Memories, yeah! Thank you.

I'm glad you're having fun! First, can you introduce yourself?

I'm from Yokohama, and my parents' house is actually near SR Academia Yokohama. I've been at Oakhouse for 4 years. The first one was Social Residence Yokohama, and then I moved to Academia Yokohama when it opened. I like that since it's close I can go hang out at SR Yokohama or my family house easily.

4 years already, wow!
Did you live in a share house before Oakhouse?

Yes, from when I was in high school, actually.

Oh really? It seems rare that a high school in Yokohama would have a dorm. Let me guess: you were on the baseball team?

I went to a high school in Hanno, Saitama. Actually first I was at a high school in Yokohama, but then I met someone who made me decide to change schools.

Staying in shared housing since high school

What kind of experience made you want to change schools?

In high school I went on a trip to Yakushima by myself, and while I was there I got to know someone who taught at a school in Saitama. There was something about it that pulled at me.

I wasn't having fun at my high school here, and I was frustrated and felt lost, so I talked to my parents about switching.

Back when I was first applying to high schools my parents had recommended a different one, and it turned out that the one I wanted to switch to was that one! So it felt like fate!

That's incredible. That's great you were able to meet someone who could change your life. How was your life at the new school?

Dorm life felt pretty normal. It was 3 people to a room, we had a rotating cleaning duty... you know, normal. But that's why I had no problem with living in a share house after high school.

My school put high value on thinking for yourself, which has especially been helpful in my work.

Vintage watch buyer

That's great that your school put value on independence. What kind of work do you do now?

I've been a buyer of vintage watches for about 5 years now. I buy watches, sell them, and run an e-commerce site.

I decided to do that because I didn't want to be a salaryman, and I wanted to do something with my hands, and I've always really liked watches. After high school I studied watches at a trade school.

Then I took a sabbatical for 3 months and went to Switzerland to learn French.

Switzerland is the best places in the world for watches, and since they speak French there I thought speaking French would be really helpful for my work. I thought it would be good if I could communicate directly with watchmakers in French.

But when I went to Switzerland, I was so surprised because everyone spoke English!
It took the wind out of my sails. Like, wait, English is fine?!

So then I came back, graduated from trade school, and found a job doing leather work in Okinawa.

Listing on his website

Checking watches on the market

Just like when you decided to go to a different high school, I feel like you're the type of person who takes action right when you think about it. Taking time off school, going abroad, it's impressive.

How was working in Okinawa?

I was right out of school and ready to hit the ground running, but I quit after 3 months. I can laugh about it now, but it was really tough!

I wasn't doing very well at the job, and my boss said, "either you quit now, or work your whole life here." It was these two choices of opposite extremes. So I quit! In that moment I realized, this isn't for me.

I came back from Okinawa and lived at my parents' home for awhile in Yokohama, but after 3 months I realized I had to move out, and then I learned about SR Yokohama.

Based in Yokohama and Osaka

Finally, Oakhouse makes an appearance in your story! What did you think at first?

I told you before it would be a long story, but... (laughs) I thought, I like Yokohama, my new job is nearby, this is fine.

There are cleaners that clean the house regularly, I don't have to clean anything but my own space, there are over 100 people to talk to and meet here, and the manager lived at the house so that was nice. It all gave me peace of mind.

I didn't imagine that the staff would be so hands-on. I feel like they're even friends, who come to house parties, eat dinner together with us after work... we even went camping together!

That sounds very close!

By the way, we hear you also are renting a room at Social Residence Academia Osaka Amagasaki?

Yes, and before I also lived at Gran Takarazuka.

My company was expanding stores and was opening one in Umeda, so I needed a base in Osaka too. At first I was just going to rent a monthly apartment, but when I got the estimate my company said no. It was just 2 weeks before the Umeda shop was set to open so I was panicking.

Luckily, I learned that Gran Takarazuka was opening. Good timing!

Wow, that was lucky!

Isn't it hard moving constantly between two homes?

I mean, yeah, luggage is a pain. I need to take my work tools, and a suit, but other than that it's not really a problem. It's easy to get anything you need at a conbini or something anyway.

When you're living in an unfamiliar town, it can be stressful even just finding a place to shop for groceries and stuff, right? I didn't know anything about Osaka. But all the residents did, and they were so helpful. There are things only locals really know, so I was lucky to live with them. One great thing about living in a share house is that you can live with people who have deep knowledge about the local area.

That's something you can get at a share house that you can't get at a monthly apartment.

Plus all those houses had a hundred people so you can make a lot of friends fast.

This year is my last chance to do a working holiday

It's great you can meet lots of people at a share house. It's a great chance to meet people you might never have met!

You seem very active; what are your plans for the future?

Actually, I'm thinking about leaving my job. Not because I don't like it, but because this year I turn 30, and it would be my last chance to do a working holiday visa. So I want to take that chance.

I've always thought that being a Japanese teacher sounded neat, so that's what I'm studying. At Oakhouse I've been able to meet a lot of foreigners learning Japanese, and teach them some. But every time, I think, man, I wish I could teach them more, teach them even better... so that's why I'm thinking about being a Japanese teacher.

Like I said before, meeting that high school teacher changed my life, so I'm hoping I can do the same by becoming a teacher.

That's an amazing reason! It's almost like art! (laughs)
I'm glad you'll always just do exactly what you're thinking about.

Come back to Oakhouse when you get back from your working holiday!

Thank you for the interview!