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Where to Stay

This is one of the most pricey and problematic factors of travel in Japan. Hotels can be found for around $35 a night if you look hard and there are always the infamous capsule hotels where you get a bed resembling an escape pod.

While casual backpackers can take their pick from the numerous hostels in Tokyo, travelers coming here to work will at first need to stay in a Gaijin-house. These are generally overcrowded dives that are milked for every cent they can yield. A typical Gaijin-house might have two bedrooms each with two bunk beds. All 8 occupants will pay around $300 each to share the flat with a tiny salon, a kitchen the size of a wardrobe and a bathroom with a coin-operated shower. A dollar just to get clean each day.

Why would anyone lodge in such extortionate misery? The answer comes when you understand what you have to go through to get your own apartment. The actual rent of a place might only be around $400 but you’ll end up shelling out around $3000 to begin with.

Why? Well, you may need to pay the first, second and last month’s rent in advance, key money, deposit, a ‘gift’ to the agency, a ‘gift’ to the guarantor and a ‘gift’ to the landlord too. You may need to read all that again before you quite believe it.

The effect is that unless you have a helpful Japanese employer who is willing to sort it out for you, when you rent in Japan you must be prepared to stay or a long time to recoup your investment in finding a place to stay.

Many Gaijin-houses also have single rooms or studios to rent but you’ll be paying about $500 for something pretty basic. Not so bad if you’re a couple though.

Check out the Japan resources to find a place.

And learn about the difficulties that even the Japanese have in finding a place to stay: