Tokyo on a Budget: Dormitory Life in a Tulip Share House

When you think of dormitories what do you imagine? Metal frame bunkbeds in a questionable, overcrowded hostel? Loud travellers coming back at all hours? No privacy? No storage space? Unsafe?

Tulip Real Estate provides dormitories that ensure privacy, your own storage space, safety and cleanliness. Rather than a traditional dormitory, they are like your own compact room. Some even contain your own fridge and air conditioner. They are usually separated from the common area with a blackout curtain, but some actually have a normal door that you can lock.

You can retain the sense of community associated with living in a dormitory and make friends easily, without having to lose any privacy. It is perfectly possible to live comfortably in them for months or even years as many of our residents are currently doing!

But the best part of Tulip’s dormitories is the rent cost! Moving to Tokyo usually means living on a budget. By living in a Tulip dormitory you can stay in the heart of Tokyo without breaking the bank. Our cheapest start at just 37,000 yen per month and the most expensive is 52,000 yen. (This includes all utility costs and free WiFi!)

Here are some examples of houses with dormitories:

Witt-style Jingu

How much would you pay to live a 5 minute walk from the famous Yoyogi Park? Believe it or not, you can live in this upmarket area for under 50,000 yen per month including all bills. Witt-style Jingu’s dormitories are like your own compact room. Shinjuku, Shibuya and Harajuku are all accessible by walking or cycling and the house has free bicycle parking!


Dormitories in Witt-style Jingu include:

✓Clothes rail
✓Air conditioner (shared or your own depending on room)
✓Window (depending on room)
✓Door with lock/blackout curtain
✓Safety box (only rooms with curtain)

(Monthly inclusive rent: 48,900 – 51,900 yen)


Witt-style Peppermint

Live in beautiful, traditional Asakusa for as little as 43,000 yen per month. The house is perfectly located, far away enough from the tourists to be peaceful but still only a stone’s throw away from the bustling Senso-ji temple. Ueno is just a 20 minute walk away! These are the biggest dormitories of any of our houses and are stylishly decorated.

Dormitories in Witt-style Peppermint include:

✓Air conditioner (shared)
✓Window (depending on room)
✓Safety box
✓Blackout curtain over entrance ensuring full privacy

(Monthly inclusive rent: 43,000 – 48,000 yen)


Happy House Vitamin Color

This super affordable house is located just a 15 minute walk away from the Japanese pop culture haven, Nakano Broadway. A direct train from the nearest station gets you to Shinjuku in 15 minutes, meaning great access for women who work or study in that area. The dormitories in this house are inspired by Japanese capsule hotels; private sleeping spaces are in a row with one on top of the other. Although the space is small, it still comes with a table and some bedside storage. But don’t worry, there is extra storage designated for tenants outside of the sleeping space as well! A great, cheaper alternative to hostels, these dormitories can even be booked through our Airbnb page for 2 week stays and above!

Dormitories in Happy House Vitamin Color include:

✓Air conditioner (shared)
✓Window (depending on room)
✓Small bedside storage
✓Large clothes rack and storage space
✓Safety box

(Monthly inclusive rent: 37,000 – 40,000 yen)

If you are interested in any of these houses an inquiry can be sent straight from our website! You can also browse for more options, including private rooms.

Follow our instagram for a glimpse into the Tokyo lifestyle! @tokyotulip

Tokyo’s Hidden Gems: Nakano

In a series of posts we want to share with you some hidden gems of Tokyo. With just a short train ride you can escape the bustle and experience more traditional residential areas.

This time around it’s the increasingly popular Nakano!

Shopping mall Nakano Broadway offers you the chance to experience some pop culture whilst avoiding the crowds of Akihabara and the like. Only a few minutes walk from Nakano Station and known as a place where you can find anime and manga bargain goods, why not have a browse?

Leading up to Nakano Broadway is the Sun Mall a long covered shopping street with a beautiful glass roof. Home to traditional Japanese food and discount stores, it’s worth taking a look if you’re in the area.

Located in an area of Nakano called Arai, the Arai Tenjin Kitano shrine is an oasis of peacefulness and beauty. You don’t need to face the crowds at Meiji Jingu to experience a Shinto shrine. You can walk from the Nakano station area in about 15 minutes, or take the Seibu Shinjuku line to Araiyakushimae, the closest station. Look out for beautiful details such as the dragon fountain where you can cleanse your hands and the lucky bull statue.

Tetsugakudo Park (or Philosopher’s Park) is known locally as a good spot for cherry blossom viewing. It got it’s name from the philosopher that opened the park, Inoue Enryo and he filled it with buildings, stoneworks, pathworks and more that all symbolise a certain philosophical idea. Also located in Arai, it’s about a 15 minute walk away from the shrine. The Myoji river runs through the park making it a great place for a stroll.

Resident Interview: Happy House Kagurazaka with Vijaya from New York


Vijaya started living in one of Tulip’s shared houses in July 2015, when she first moved to Tokyo from New York. She stayed in Happy House Herb for a few months and then moved to Chilli Pepper and Cream shortly after its opening. Today we got a chance to chat with her at Kagurazaka Saryo, a well-known green tea and dessert cafe near Chilli Pepper and Cream.

 First question, Vijaya, what interested you in our share house in the beginning?

I came to Tokyo with an English-teaching program but they didn’t provide an accommodation in Tokyo. Then I started looking things up on my own and went to see a few apartments with regular housing agencies, but they were all too pricey. I wound up meeting Norie-san [Tulip’s founder] at Happy House Herb. The price was really good and I could just move in without any hassle. No need to set up the electricity, the internet and so on. We arrived in July and a lot of my friends didn’t have internet in their apartments until December. Settling down in a share house was much easier.

 So you have lived in Happy House Herb and you are now living in Chilli Pepper and Cream. What do you particularly like about these houses and how would you compare them?

I like the people a lot. I made a lot of friends in both houses. I like that Happy House Herb resembles what I thought a Japanese house would look like, but the thing that made me want to move out was that the room was a little small. I would always be in the common area. Even though I like the people I was living with, sometimes after a long day of work I just wanted to read and rest in my own room. What I really like about Chilli Pepper and Cream is that there is always this friendly environment, but I can also just crash in my room when I’m tired. The rooms are big enough for an American like me to feel comfortable. I also like that there is a tumble dryer and an oven in the common area. The location is probably one of the things I like most too. The neighborhood of Happy House Herb was a little quieter. I really like that, but actually, my current neighborhood is more suited to me.

 How so? How would you describe the surrounding area you live in?

Kagurazaka reminds me a lot of my home in New York. Very metropolitan. It’s very cultural, but also very, very modern. I guess it’s more foreigner-friendly. The nicest thing is that you have all those small local Japanese shops, but at the same time I can just go to Starbucks and Burger King if I miss America. And it’s really close to Roppongi where I work. I can get up at 7:30 and still arrive to work at 8:00. The house is right across the station.

 Do you have any favorite spots in Kagurazaka?

The Canal Cafe is probably my favorite. When I first moved here, I saw people paddling the boat up and down the canal. Then I found out that we can get a paddle boat at the restaurant. It’s a bit expensive but it’s worth it. I like the variety of the supermarkets we have here too. There is one with really nice salad and imported goods. I also found a really nice whisky bar when I was taking a walk on one of the small streets.

 What are your favorite things to do in Tokyo?

Karaoke. It thought I was gonna hate it, but when I first went with my friends here, I ended up loving it. I also love going to the park. There are a lot of really nice parks around here, especially Shinjuku Gyoen. Though you usually have to pay to get in, they have some free days that I always try to go to. I also like walking by Yasukuni Shrine. Sometimes there is a flea market there.

 Has living in a shared space helped or changed you in any way?

Back in New York I always used to share a bedroom with my sister, but I guess the way you interact with strangers is a little different. When you talk to them, you make more effort to get to know them. One day I was talking to this Japanese girl next to my room in the kitchen. Then I found out that she actually went to a law school in New York. And that’s what I’ve been wanting to do, so we could connect from there.

 Have you had any challenges in the house? And what did you do to overcome or resolve those problems?

In my share house, we don’t really run into each other in an unpleasant way. There are only 8 people for three toilets and two showers. There has never been any time where I have to wait for a toilet, and there isn’t a line for the shower either. Tulip has a cleaning staff that cleans the common space every week, so I don’t have to clean after other people.

 Do you have any other plans in the future while you are in Tokyo?

I’ll be here for one more year, at least. When I came here, I initially thought I would stay for one year, but then I got to liking it. When they wanted prolong my contract, I was like “definitely.” My plan in Tokyo is to keep learning Japanese. Ideally, I’m thinking of going to a law school here if I could. But it would take me a couple more years to master the language. I will see how things go.

 Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about your experience in your share house?

As a foreigner, I would highly recommend it. Share house is probably the best option if you don’t know how long you are gonna stay. My program is bringing in a lot of English teachers, and I’ve been telling people to take a look at a share houses. When you first move in at a regular apartment, you have to pay like 4 or 5 times rent up front. Then you need to buy electrical appliances and all other things. People only stay for one year end up being in debt because they had to pay so much in the beginning. With me, I’ve been able to spend my salary on exploring Japan and traveling around Asia.


Easy Valentine’s Day Chocolate Recipes!

As you may know, Valentine’s Day in Japan is the day when ladies give chocolate to their friends, sweetheart, or someone they hope to get together with (and it’s most often home-made)! Here are some easy recipes to give to your loved ones. Have fun with it!

Chocolate Love Bark

What you need:

Chocolate (of course!) – Milk, semi-sweet, dark, or white.

Toppings – Dried fruits, toasted nuts, cocoa nibs, candied ginger, or pretty much anything you’d like.

How to make:

Line a chilled wax paper on a baking pan, melt the chocolate until it is smooth and pour it onto the pan. Spread the chocolate evenly, sprinkle on the toppings. Place the chocolate in the freezer for 20 minutes to set.


Matcha Truffles

What you need:

1/2 teaspoon of matcha green tea powder

7 ounces 70% Dark Chocolate, fine chopped

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup sugar

Matcha green tea

How to make:

Combine the cream, sugar and 1/2 a teaspoon of matcha green tea in a saucepan and whisk. Bring to a boil, stir constantly, and remove from heat. Immediately add 5 ounces of the chopped chocolate to the mixture and gently stir until blended. Spread the mixture in a shallow dish and refrigerate until firm. Roll the mixture into balls and arrange on baking sheet lined with wax papaer. Freeze truffles until firm. Melt the leftover two ounces of chopped chocolate and lightly coat the truffles. Roll the cooled truffles in the matcha powder, store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of

Spiked Bourbon Hot Chocolate

What you need:

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

2 teaspoons brown sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 oz semi sweet chocolate

½ teaspoon vanilla

1½ oz bourbon

whipped cream


How to make:

Mix the milk, cornstarch, and cocoa powder together in a saucepan. Whisk until completely blended. Turn on the heat to medium-high and add the brown sugar, salt, and chocolate. Stir frequently until the mixture is hot and the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the vanilla and bourbon. Pour the hot chocolate into a mug and top with whipped cream and caramel.

Recipe and photo courtesy of

Choco-dipped Fruit Bouquet

What you need:

Your fav fruits

Your fav chocolate


How to make:

Melt the chocolate and cream together in a bowl set over simmering water until just melted. Stir and remove from heat. Dip each fruit into the mixture and set aside on wax paper to dry.

Rasberry-filled Molten Cupcakes

What you need:

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature

4 large eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

Pinch of salt

11 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted (2 1/2 cups chopped)

18 raspberries (36 if they are small)

Confectioners’ sugar, for serving

Vanilla ice cream (optional)

How to make:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 standard muffin tin cups with paper liners. In a large bowl with a mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low, beat in flour and salt. Beat in chocolate until just combined. Divide half the batter among cups, add two raspberries to each, and top with remaining batter.

Bake until tops are just set and no longer shiny, 10 to 11 minutes, let cool in pan on a wire rack, 10 minutes. Remove from pans, dust with confectioners’ sugar, and top with ice cream!

Recipe and photo courtesy of

Have fun trying out these recipes and maybe you’ll get something sweet in return next month on White Day! 😉


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3 Ways to Stay Warm in Japan!

We’re currently still in the depths of winter here in Tokyo and everyone’s feeling the chill! Here’s some distinctly Japanese tips to stay warm while we wait for spring. It’s just around the corner and I can already taste the sakura  Starbucks drink… but until then try some of these out!

  1. Go to an Onsen (Japanese Public Bath)

If you haven’t already visited a Japanese public bath, winter is the best time! If you can get out to the countryside and experience a real onsen, you’ll see a multitude of benefits to your skin and health. And best of all, it warms up your whole body so you won’t feel cold all day!

If you’re currently in an inner city area, there are plenty of onsen-style public baths where you can get the same warming effect. Just remember these bathhouses have strict rules so read up properly before you go!

  1. Eat Nabe

Nabe is Japanese style hot-pot. You can throw pretty much anything in which makes it a handy recipe when you’ve got a fridge full of random bits and pieces. You can even buy a pre-made broth at the supermarket, making this dish idiot-proof! Add ingredients to the simmering pot and once they are cooked, everyone can take their pick and eat from their own bowl. While eating, add more ingredients and the whole process starts again! Unlimited food!

If you’re not confident in your cooking skills, brace going outside in the cold to a restaurant. It’ll be worth it! Here’s a list of cheap restaurants for nabe, some are even all-you-can-eat! Amazing!

  1. Use Self-warming Products


There’s so many to choose from! Cold back? Back pad! Cold hands? Hand warmers! Cold eyes? Heated eye mask!! Seriously, any type of coldness you may have is covered in this wonderful country.

Self-heating bags can be placed inside your pockets to keep your hands toasty while you’re outside. They’re sold in all supermarkets, drugstores and convenience stores, look for something called ‘Kairo’. They’re super cheap and last for up to 20 hours (use them while you wait for that friend who’s always late…). Simply take them out from the plastic bag, shake them a few times and they start to heat up. Technology!

What are your tips for beating the chill? Leave a comment and let us know!

Stay warm, ladies!

How to Get a Successful Haircut in Tokyo

Foreign ladies in Japan with salon anxiety, we’ve got your back!

Japan is a largely homogenous nation. This makes some foreigners believe that Japanese stylists don’t know how to cut foreign hair. And of course, we all have that eternal worry faced by all resident non-Japanese. That no matter how good your language skills are, you’ll still manage to end up with the hairstyle from hell, due to some mix-up of your words.

One of our very own staff members, Jan, discovered a fantastic English-speaker-friendly salon in Ebisu that will put all your hair worries to rest. She recently went in for the chop and was impressed with what she found.

Nepenji interestingly derives its name from a Greek legend. Nepenthe is a potion that will chase away your sorrows, much like a good hair cut according to the owners!

The head stylist speaks fluent English which eliminates the chance of you walking out with an accidental mullet. She also used to work at a curl specialist salon in New York meaning when it comes to different hair textures she’s already seen and worked with them all.

As you can tell from this photo, Jan really went for a big change and she looks great!

It would be a waste to throw her long locks in the bin, so she’s donating them to an Osaka-based charity that makes wigs for children undergoing chemotherapy. Visit their website if you’re thinking about getting your hair cut any time soon! Your hair must be over 31cm in length and in good health in order to donate it.

A more general tip for those looking to book salon appointments is to use Hot Pepper Beauty, a website and app that lets you search for salons in your area and book appointments conveniently. Not just hair styling, but you can also book any kind of beauty service such as nails or make up. There’s often special deals available, as a reward for booking through the website. The site is only in Japanese, so if you’re struggling, you can usually wade through a bad machine translation and figure things out.

Good luck on your hair journey in Japan! And be adventurous because even if it all goes wrong, hair grows back!

Unless you end up with a mullet. Then I’m sorry, but it’s all over.



Japanese New Year: Akemashite Omedetou – Happy New Year!

New Years is undoubtedly the most important holiday of the year in Japanese culture. It is a very special time to reflect on the past year, enjoy the holiday with family/friends, and begin the new year with many traditional customs.

I spent the New Year with family and friends this year in Kyushu and had a great time celebrating like the locals do!

On December 31st before midnight, many people visit the Buddhist temples as the New Year approaches. People line up to ring a large bell, which is rung a total of 108 times. The number 108 represents the worldy sins and it is believed that ringing the bell will rid those sins of the past year.

Many also come to enjoy hot soba called”toshikoshi” soba, which literally means “year-crossing” soba. It often runs out pretty quickly!

People are free to also go inside of the temple to pray and chant with the monks. After the temple ceremonies have finished, many will then head to a nearby shrine with family and friends to warm up by the fire and buy a fortune or charm from the stand.

New Years Day usually involves larger family get togethers enjoying conversation, drinking “otoso” which is a spiced sake, and of course, eating the traditional “Oshechi” meal and “ozouni” mochi soup!

Mochi is a very important food during New Years because it can last a very long time without spoiling and also sounds similar to the word “to have” or “to hold” in Japanese, so it is eaten in hopes of gaining good luck and fortune.


Kakizome, the “first writing” of the year, is an activity where people write their New Years Resolution or a kanji they hope represents their year and hang all together on the wall.

At night, the festivities continue with a party to start the year off with loved ones, toasts, delicious food, games, etc. The adults keep eachother’s glasses full throughout the night!

Soaking in the atmosphere of the Japanese New Year is truly a special experience. We hope you enjoyed the holidays this year too. Happy New Year from Tulip Real Estate, let’s kick this new year off right!

Resident Interview: Witt Style Apricot Terrace, Sugamo with resident from Thailand

We met with Thidaphat, a resident in our Witt-Style Apricot Terrace shared house in Sugamo, Tokyo. The area is famous for having many traditional Japanese shops and a great street market scene.

Witt-Style Apricot

What interested you to live in a shared house?

Last year when I came to Japan, I lived in an apartment by myself. But when I came home, my only friends were the TV and radio and it felt lonely! I wanted people to talk and share things with. In my shared house, there are many people with different nationalities. When we all come back home, we can meet and talk.

 What is your favorite thing about living in Witt-Style Apricot?

Everybody in the house is very helpful and friendly. I try my best to practice Japanese with my housemates and even when it is broken Japanese, they patiently help correct my grammatical mistakes. Living with real Japanese people is such a cultural experience for me because I get to learn about their lifestyle. Especially the way they cook and eat- our main topics are about food! They also like Thai food, so we sometimes make plans to visit new Thai restaurants together. I also share Thai food with them when I cook. We have done “hanami” together and have takoyaki parties too. We have great friendships among international and Japanese housemates here.

Jizo Dori, the main shopping street in Sugamo

 How would you describe the surrounding area you live in? Do you have any favorite spots?

I like everything around the house. The overall atmosphere from the station to the house is very relaxing and I really like walking in the area. There is a dorayaki (Japanese red bean pancake) shop I love and I buy one every morning for breakfast. I especially like the 4th, 14th, and 24th of every month because there is the Sugamo street flea market. You can find all kinds of things and food. This area fits my lifestyle because during the day, it’s so lively but at night, it’s very peaceful so I can study quietly.

Trying a nearby taiyaki shop for the first time

What are your favorite things to do in Tokyo?

 I like to take walks in the city and go shopping, especially in Harajuku.

 Has living in a shared space help or change you in any way? How so?

 I decided to live in a shared house in the first place to become more natural in using Japanese in daily life and living in this house has helped me a lot. For example, I’ve learned about the importance of greeting manners in Japan which is quite different from my home country. By sharing common facilities in the house, I’ve learned to be more considerate of others too.

Have you had any challenges in the house that you were able to overcome or resolve?

Nothing really so far but in the past, sometimes the housemates would have a little party in the dining area together at night. Some residents who were trying to rest let Tulip know about the noise and we received an e-mail reminder. If we have parties at night, we try to whisper “Kanpai!” and there haven’t been any problems since.

 Do you have any other plans in the future while you are in Tokyo?

 I’m now a student and planning to stay here for another year. After that, if I can get a working visa and work in Japan that would be great.

Sugamon – the town mascot

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about your experience in your shared house?

Shared houses are not bad at all if people might be thinking that. It’s very clean and just so much fun living with other people in this house.