So, I’m finally moved into my new apartment. Phew, that was just about the hardest thing I’ve ever have to do! In addition to the numerous challenges I discussed in an earlier post (lack of availability, lack of “conveniences,” quick turnarounds, anti-foreigner prejudice, etc) another thing came up that almost cost me two more good options. The issue of a guarantor.
To rent an apartment in Japan, you need someone to be a 保証人 – a guarantor whose name goes right on the lease with yours; if you damage the room, fail to pay rent, or skip town, they come after the guarantor for any money owed. Typically one’s parents act as their guarantor until they get married and buy a house, so for the Japanese it’s no particular problem, but for foreigners it’s just one more challenge to overcome while setting up a life in Japan. Thankfully, my employer has been kind enough to act as guarantor for many of his overseas employees. That is, if the particular mansion allows company guarantors (Note: the Japanese call nice apartments “mansions” and crappy ones “apartments”).
So go figure. The last available place that I was able to come up with requires an individual (i.e. non-company) guarantor. Every mansion has different rules regarding the paperwork they require, and somehow it I just keep getting the short end of the stick. Understandably, no one at the company wanted to take personal responsibility for me – they don’t know me well enough to have any idea if I’m responsible with money. And on top of that, I actually had one pretty embarrassing experience to act as evidence to the contrary. After coming home from a particularly late night out, I apparently woke up one of the other residents by talking with a friend in the hallway. But they didn’t complain to me. They complained to the landlord. Who called the company. Who called me. Not the greatest way to start off making a good impression, ‘eh? But that’s the Japanese way…save face, don’t talk to the person themselves, but get 20 other people involved so you don’t have to approach someone man-to-man. Sheesh.
So anyways, I was on my own to find a guarantor – and they had to be Japanese, and not a student. I was left with little choice but to ask my buddy Yano, the salaryman. In his wonderful kindness, he agreed – at a major inconvenience and financial risk to himself. Thanks to him, the long and arduous hunt is now over…and I’m writing you from the roof of my brand spankin’ new apartment building!
That’s right, in an incredibly ironic twist of fate I’m once again in an apartment with no internet, and once again having to climb up to the roof and use a neighboring building’s wireless signal to complete my online musings. And once again it’s during the winter. Just one more reason why I’m so behind on these posts…it’s COLD up here!
The new apartment itself is pretty darn close to what I’d hoped for, which is good because I’d so exhausted my options that I had no choice but to sign the lease before seeing inside the building. Why couldn’t I see inside? Because I wasn’t kidding when I said “brand spankin’ new.” The building itself was just completed a few days before I moved in, and I’m actually the first person to be living inside. It’s even still got that “fresh paint and flooring” smell that I’m sure we all love so much….er….yeah 😛
So, my analysis:
The Good — Plenty of room for one person; a wonderful bathroom with separate sink, (heated) toilet, and shower room; an indoor spot for a laundry machine; a large kitchen counter and sink with ample cupboard space; an unobstructed balcony where plenty of sunlight can get in; a very quiet sidestreet with virtually no passing traffic; a 2-minute walk from a 24-hour 99c convenience store; a 4-minute bikeride from Gold’s Gym; a 7-minute bikeride from work.
The Bad — The 7-minute ride from work is in the opposite direction from downtown; there’s no elevator (since it’s only a 3 story building); the closest train station is 15 minutes on foot (4 minutes on bike, but when leaving the city for awhile it’s usually best to park at home).
So now that I moved in, I come to my next phase of “busy-scheduleness”: filling up my lunch periods looking for furniture, hooking up utilities, changing addresses, etc. Actually, there’s quite a bit more to tell than that, but because I’m so behind on these posts (and have much more fun stuff I could be talking about), I’ll just cut to the chase: I got it pretty much entirely furnished (although some of the items are still temporary), I’m signed up for the Internet (so the 3-week waiting period has at least started), and finally have a very small bit of space to breathe.
Time to start enjoying Japan? I sure hope so.