Interview: Ms. Oya (Social Residence Kami-Kitazawa)

Why I recommend share houses to all students coming to Tokyo

When you first come to Tokyo and start a new apartment life, some people struggle with not being able to be close to your family or friends. It can be hard in Tokyo to expand your social circle outside of work or school.

Some people may become disillusioned with their expectations of Tokyo, but they have also found that the key to their human interation laid in share houses.

In this 5th resident interview, we spoke with Mizuki Oya, who lives in Social Residence Kami-Kitazawa. She came to Tokyo from Kagawa prefecture on the island of Shikoku 3 years ago to attend university, and now studies international marketing at the Nihon University school of economics. We talked with her about moving to the big city and how she lives her life at the share house.

When did you start living at Social Residence Kami-Kitazawa?
At first I was living in Chiba by myself, and I moved into the share house last July. I was looking for a place to learn English, and felt that living alone wasn't helping that desire.

Among all the other share house companies, why did you choose Oakhouse?
I did take a look at other share house companies, but sometimes there were houses with just too few people, or the house was dirty, or it just didn't feel right for me.

But when I was shown Oakhouse's Social Residence Kami-Kitazawa, the lounge and cafe were much cleaner than I had expected, and I suddenly felt a new perspective on share houses. There are staff that come clean regularly so it's nice that the kitchen is kept clean.

"It's totally different from what you see on Terrace House, it's more like a family"

How has your lifestyle changed since you moved into a share house?

Before coming to Tokyo I lived with my parents, and moved right into an apartment when I came to the capital. But when you live alone there aren't many opportunities to meet people, and I don't think it's rare that people feel a sort of loneliness.

I just felt like, I made all this effort to come to Tokyo and tried to expand my horizons, and couldn't find many opportunities to meet people outside college, or my part-time job, but what broke through for me was the share house.

I only realized later that the best way for me to truly feel fulfilled in Tokyo is to be around people of different backgrounds and cultures, and this living environment is perfect for that.

I think these days the image people have of share houses is the show Terrace House, which is more about relationships between men and women, but it's actually totally different! (laughs)

Of course there may be some of those topics here, but honestly it feels more like spending time with family.

Now if a non-Japanese speaker approaches me on the street, I can communicate with them in a natural way.

Where do other people who live at Social Residence Kami-Kitazawa come from?

I have housemates from the United States, Canada, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the UK, Germany, France, the Dominican Republic, Australia... honestly there are probably lots of countries I'm forgetting right now! (laughs)

Before I lived here there were really no opportunities for me to talk with foreigners and I had no confidence to approach people. But at a share house there are naturally a lot of chances for me to talk to people of different cultures.

One of my good friends here is from Malaysia, and she was making curry in the kitchen one day and I was just casually noticing the spices she was using, and just commented, "that looks good!" and she turned to me and said, "come make it with me!" And since then we cook together a lot!

Before coming here I would never have imagined that I would learn how to make Malaysian green curry not from a cooking website but from someone actually from Malaysia! (laughs)

"Someday I want to go visit my families around the world"

Are there any other good memories you have about other house mates?
One of our housemates moved out to live in Tochigi, and we were all sad about that, but one day someone said, "let's go meet him together!" and we piled into 3 rental vans and 18 of us drove all the way up there to go see him. (laughs)

In that group, there were only 3 Japanese people, and 15 foreigners. I don't think of myself as a leader in any sense, but all of a sudden I found myself taken initiative and organizing these sorts of group outings. I'm easily one of the youngest people in the house, but to a foreigner living in Japan for the first time, they will most likely come to depend on almost any Japanese person, so you sort of naturally fall into that role.

At a share house, your house mates are your family even after they move out, and you can see them again one day. It's kind of strange, in a good way. Someday I think it would be neat to go travel all over the world and meet my families again.

What are your dreams for the future?
My plans are still sort of up in the air, but I'd be interested in being a food product buyer os something like that. There are lots of working people in the share house so you get to hear about their various industries, and if your antenna are up, you might discover something that sounds interesting.

It's great that you're able to get so much from living with people of different occupations and cultures, all while still a student! We predict a bright future for you. Thank you!

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