SOCIAL RESIDENCE URAWA
Interview: Su from Urawa (Social Residence Urawa)
In this edition of the Oakhouse Interview series, we talked with Su from Urawa (not real name), who lives at Social Residence Urawa.
Why did Su, who wants to be a manga artist, choose to live in a share house?
Please introduce yourself.
You can call me Su from Urawa, and I live at Social Residence Urawa.
I used to be a teacher back in my hometown, but I started writing manga as a college student, and came to Tokyo to follow my dream of being a manga artist. I mostly draw shonen manga, but I haven't been picked up by a magazine yet, so I mostly make money by doing art for advertisements, and using my teaching experience to work part-time at a cram school.
(Su from Urawa shows off manga on the Oak Blog)
You were also a school teacher?
I taught elementary school for 4 years. I really enjoyed it, so I use that experience to teach at a cram school part-time now.
Did you start working at the cram school as soon as you came out to Tokyo?
At first I worked at a call center about 10 minutes from my home. It was easy to take days off, and there were flexible shifts, so I chose that job without really thinking about it.
That was my first job at a private company, and it was the first time I realized that people were concerned about their working hours, overtime, and pay. I loved being a teacher so I hadn't really thought much about working hours or salary. It was a new experience for me.
That said, even though I was talking on the phone all day at the call center, there's no time to talk to your colleagues, so it didn't suit me in the end.
What made you want to live in a share house?
Three of my classmates from college came to Tokyo to be manga artists, and they were all living at different share houses. One of them was living at Oakhouse, so I learned about share houses through them.
I knew Tokyo rent prices were high, so I thought it would be best to keep costs low by living in a share house.
I imagine they all told you different things.
All three of them said that they were able to meet lots of fun people at a share house, and that sounded nice. If you live alone, you often don't get to talk to anyone, and rarely see your friends, so that seemed a little boring.
But, for example, in April me and some share house residents went to go see the cherry blossoms, and I like that kind of interaction.
That sounds fun. Do you have any good stories about people in the share house?
We were all talking about manga, and one of the house mates from India loves One Piece, and was adamant that it is the best manga, but I prefer things like Hunter Hunter and Dragonball, and he wouldn't listen! So we were having a very fun argument about manga in the living room.
Yes, there is actually very little trouble here. Everyone is very relaxed, even on weekend nights. Sometimes we'll reach out and hang out and watch TV together, and I love how relaxed everything is.
How about cooking in the share house?
I don't actually cook that much. I mostly eat ramen. A house mate introduced me to "Shin-Ramen", the spicy stuff, for the first time, so that's all I eat now.
(First experience with Shin Ramen)
It sounds like you can broaden your horizons by seeing what your housemates eat.
Yes, especially foreign food I would have never tried in Japan. The other day I was just sitting on the sofa and someone just came up and gave me some of their food.
How nice! Do you do any cooking at all?
Much more than before, yes. Watching everyone cooking, you start to want to try yourself. And it's a big kitchen so you can have a few people cooking in there at once.
There are only 2 kitchens, but just 30 people here, so there's never a fight for kitchen space.
How do you come up with ideas for the manga on the Oak Blog?
I am never short on ideas. Mostly I just think about what happened recently, and I think of something good to draw. Then it's just a matter of making the humor work.
Oakhouse staff actually talks about your manga a lot.
That's so great! I've been busy with my main job recently so I haven't been able to draw much, but I love to draw when I can.
I do notice that you bought a Playstation recently.
Oh, yeah... Well I thought I would reward myself by buying it if I won an award for manga or something, but it just happened to be on sale for a good price...!
But actually I won an award 2 months ago, so I think the timing works out just fine!
That's great! How about your main manga?
I mostly write and draw at a nearby cafe. Then I talk a walk, and think some more. I often go to this great park near the house to draw.
There's a library on the 8th floor of the Parco building in front of Urawa station, and there are lots of desks that are perfect for drawing.
Do you find it hard to work from inside the share house?
I do the actual drawing on the computer in my room, but for writing and planning I go outside. Walking is healthy, and I tend to get my best ideas that way. I'll take a 40 minute walk to the cafe I like.
When I get engrossed in the work my room gets really messy, so I sometimes panic when there is going to be a fire safety inspection!
Walk me through a day in your life.
I always wake up at 8 in the morning, watch the NHK morning drama, and eat breakfast. I can't start my day without watching the show. It's a rule!
Then I start working around 9.
Depending on the day I'll draw in the room, or go outside and make sketches of ideas. If it's a day I'm working at the cram school, I'll head here around 4 or 5, and come home around 9 or 10.
Sometimes if I have a deadline I'll work on stuff right after I get home, but I prefer not to.
How do you like Urawa?
I like it a lot, actually. Recently some of us housemates go to the movies. Last Friday four of us went to the theater in Parco to see the late show. It started at 9:50 and ended just before midnight.
Honestly Parco has everything you could need in Urawa. I barely need to go anywhere by train these days. There's a Tsutaya bookstore there too so it's so useful.
How nice to have a movie theater at your home station!
It's so great. We all signed up for the movie club so we only pay 1,000 yen for Friday night tickets. And we're already at our home station, so it's no trouble seeing the late showing. In fact when I first came out to Urawa to see the house, the movie theater was one of the things I noticed!
(What to look out for when viewing houses)
Sounds like a nice place to live.
Yes, it's clean, there's a Parco, it's well-lit at night... it's still part of the city, but there are big parks nearby. There was a big festival the other day, way bigger than I thought, so that was fun.
You probably never have to leave Urawa.
That's right. Sometimes I think, maybe I should sometimes explore elsewhere. Before living here I thought it didn't matter where I lived, because I worked from home, but my friend who recommended the share house to me told me: "It's important to be able to go pleaces easily. You need to be somewhere where it's easy to get around." So that's why I chose Urawa.
Thank you for talking with us! Sounds like you're doing great.
I am! I have no plans to move, as I'm really enjoying life here at Social Residence Urawa.
After the interview, Su used the interview experience and drew a manga about it. Check out her work!
Resident interview ①
Resident Interview ②
Su from Urawa profile
Name: Su from Urawa (real name not available)
Home prefecture: Aichi
Share house experience: 1 year
What she gained by living at a share house: Every day is fun
Any bad parts? : people confuse it for Terrace House
Blog update rate: Tries to update regularly, but recently going down
Work: Simply put, soft cute manga drawings and illustrations.