Finding a Property to Rent

Information on finding a property and the different types of property available for rent in Japan...

There are many real estate agencies which deal with foreigners who want to find a property to rent, and with English-speaking staff. Property classifieds can also be found in English-language newspapers, magazines and websites such as Metropolis or Tokyo Notice Board. A property for rent is called chintai.

Types of Property

Furnished and unfurnished property are both available for rent in Japan. Furnished property to rent is generally less common. When these properties are available, they usually include furniture, and standard home appliances such as a refrigerator, microwave, washing machine, and television.

A property's overall size is calculated by combining the sizes of the living room, dining room, and kitchen (LDK), and then giving that size a number. For example:

  • 1 Room is basically a studio
  • 1K has a separate kitchen added to the studio
  • 1DK has one bedroom and kitchen
  • 2LDK has two bedrooms, plus a living room, plus a dining room/kitchen
  • 2K has two bedrooms plus a kitchen

Units of measurement

  • Jo: This is a traditional Japanese measurement used to measure a room's size: 1 jo is about 1.65m²
  • Tsubo: This is used to measure a floor's area: 1 tsubo is about 3.3m²
  • For examples of floor plans, types of flooring and standard sizes of various flats or apartments: Click here

In Japan, properties are classified into four major types:

  1. Apart or Apato
  2. Ikkodate - house
  3. Mansion
  4. Public housing

Apart or Apato

This is a Japanese-English term which refers to a flat or an apartment with the following characteristics:

  • Built from wood or reinforced concrete, often with two storeys
  • Soundproofing is relatively poor
  • Toilet facilities are shared and sometimes there is no bath in the building either, although there is usually a simple kitchenette
  • There is often neither a lift nor a manager, and both rent and management fees are relatively low
  • Parking space depends on location

Ikkodate - house

These are detached homes and, in general, there are not that many available to rent. Foreigners must be prepared to participate in community activities, because some communities cultivate close relationships. Activities include maintaining the neighbourhood, disaster preparedness, and seasonal festivals or matsuri.

These houses have the following features:

  • Toilet, bathroom, and kitchen
  • They are often furnished
  • Garden and parking are included in suburban areas

Mansion

This term refers to a luxury apartment in a multi-storey concrete building and generally includes the following:

  • Lifts
  • Security features at the entrance
  • A full-time manager or concierge, which makes management fees high
  • Kitchen, toilet, bathroom, and air conditioning

Rent is usually higher than for an apato, and rent increases the higher a flat is situated in a building. Parking is optional and depends on the building's location.

Public and subsidised housing

Public housing comes under the jurisdiction of local government. Rents are cheaper and key money is not required. Eligibility varies and enquiries should be made at the local government office, usually located in the town hall. Supply exceeds demand by far and this type of housing is generally awarded on a lottery basis.

The Japan Housing and Urban Development Corporation (JHUD) provides subsidised housing to those whose income falls within a certain range. Application forms are available from the local JHUD office.

Short term rentals

A cheaper alternative for newcomers to Japan is a gaijin. This is a guesthouse specifically aimed at foreigners, with a furnished room to rent and shared kitchen and bathroom. Rooms can either be shared, private or dormitory style. The advantage of a gaijin is that a deposit and sponsor are not required and rent is considerably cheaper.

Further Information