One man's oddessy finding an apartment in Tokyo
A great, extensive, article explaining the ins and outs of renting an apartment in Tokyo. Lots of personal experience, and although based around Tokyo lots of things are general to Japan.
“The first time I came to live in Japan I was setup by my company, Sega, in the company dorms. That wasn’t the best place but it was all taken care off. Some small fee like $150 was deducted from my paycheck and the personal department took care of getting my name registered with the electric company.
This time though I had to do it all on my own. I knew several issues that I guess usually distress most new arrivels here in Japan. For example there is the issue of key money. In Japan you almost always have to pay *key money* (reikin: pronounced ray-keen). There’s really no way to explain it except to say that it’s the money you pay for the privilege of staying in the landlord’s building. For 70% of apartments it’s 2 months rent. This is NOT the deposit. You don’t get this money back ever. Consider it the contract closing fee if you want. There is one positive side to this. There are no leases in Japan, at least not for apartments, so unlike America where you sign a lease and if you have to leave early you still have to keep paying rent well that doesn’t happen here. There are some apartments for which there is no key money but expect them to be pretty crappy. The kind of apartment that basically couldn’t be rented any other way except to lower the price.”….