In our previous blog, we explained about the renovation process of Happy House Asian. Finally, the transformation is finished and we would like to share the new Happy House Asian in Nakano! Before showing the images of the new Happy House Asian, we would like to introduce our renovated share house.
Happy House Asian is a traditional, Japanese style house in a convenient area close to Nakano station and Araiyakushi shopping district. You can enjoy popular sightseeing spots, bars, izakayas, supermarkets and other restaurants. Happy House Asian has two large, private rooms and 4 hostel-style bunk dormitories. Previously, this house was lived by a geisha mistress and some of the furniture pieces are originated from her time living in this house. This house was built in the beginning of the Showa period (1926 – 1989) and it still has its original look. Right now, there is a cozy furnished living room with a television and a Japanese low dining table (kotatsu style), equipped kitchen, shower and a Japanese-style toilet.
Happy House Asian has been renovated in the winter period of 2019 ~ 2020 and we re-opened this house at the end of January, 2020. We kept the traditional architectural elements, which are the characteristics of this house. Between the entrance hall and the dormitory room there is an interior rice-paper window (shoji) and a rice-paper door (fusuma). We had to replace the rice paper, but the design is almost the same.
The main elements are the wooden beams and columns and the wooden ceiling, which we emphasized by keeping them dark brown and the fillers (walls) lighter colors. The challenge of this renovation was to make it homier and more like a sharehouse. We did that by adding more colors and making the rooms lighter, changing the lights, changing the curtains and other small changes. The damages before the renovation created also an old look, therefore it was important to repair the small damages.
Let’s start with the tour!
This is the Front Façade of Happy House Asian. We re-painted the lower walls and added a signboard by having a new Post box.
We post this information, since this message is related to anyone who can become a victim of Corona Virus.
You all live in a house with more residents in one house, therefore the risk is higher someone will get the virus and spread it in the house. We would like to share some information about it.
Hygiene is very important right now and that doesn’t only mean outside, but also inside the house. Everybody touches the pans, the doorknobs of the doors, the flush buttons of the toilets and so on. It is crucial that everyone in the house is taking care of each other’s hygiene. To avoid getting sick and also to spread the disease, please:
wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 30 seconds
always wash your hands when you get home
clean/detox your room as much as possible
clean the common spaces (kitchen, toilet etc.) with detergent and water after using them.
use hand sanitizer gel if soap and water are not available
cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
avoid close contact with people
only travel on public transport if you need to
work/study from home, if you can
avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas
avoid events with large groups of people
SYMPTOMS OF CORONA VIRUS
Every person feels the illness a bit different. Some people get a sore throat and a fever, some feel a bit tired. The most warning symptom is when you have a higher temperature than 37.5 degrees here in Japan. If you are not feeling well, you need to consider your housemates’ health and avoid contact with them. Please visit a hospital and contact Tulip Real Estate first. You should wear a surgical mask to minimize risk to others and move quickly through any common areas. Avoid coming to the common spaces as much as possible, like the living room. Stay in the room as much as possible for at least 14 days. If it is confirmed a person in the sharehouse has corona virus, let us know if you are not feeling well, and we can come with urgent measures if needed.
※ We do not provide evacuation sites, even if the infection of residents is known.
Please note that financial compensation is not supported.
If possible, you should not even go outside to buy food or other products. Talk (by phone or mail) to your housemates to ask for their help to access necessary things you need or order things online.
People living in the same house, will infect each other easily. Therefore, it might be we also need to ask others to be checked and isolate themselves for 14 days in the room.
We informed you all, that there is a change in our contract renewal procedure.
Normally, residents need to pass by our office to renew. From now until the end of April, we will put your contract in the mailbox of your house. We would like to ask you if you could sign and submitted back in the mailbox. Next time, we will pick it up. We will notify you again if there are any changes.
OTHER TEMPORARY CHANGES OF REGULATION
We want to inform you, it is not allowed to invite friends or other visitors in the sharehouses anymore. This rule might be until the end of April, but we will inform you for any changes.
Please keep the windows, especially in the common spaces, a bit open once in a while to have fresh air in the house.
OUR OPENING HOURS OF THE OFFICE
For now, we still work in the office every day from 10:00 ~ 18:00 and we still visit the sharehouses. If we decide to close the office, we will inform you accordingly. We would still be reachable by emails, since we would work from home. For contract renewal, moving in, moving out and viewing appointments, we would need to postpone.
Probably, we wouldn’t be able to clean anymore in the houses. This information will be informed as well.
Regularly, we feel a small earthquake in Tokyo. It is quite common here, but it has been predicted that there will occur a big one in Tokyo before the year 2050. For foreigners who haven’t experienced any earthquakes, it can be frightening. How to prepare for any kind of earthquake?
1.)Install this useful app Yurekuru on your phone. It gives warning notifications a few seconds before an earthquakes happens.
2.) On the website of Japan Meteorological Agency, you can find out about the latest Japanese earthquakes. It updates immediately after any earthquake. It is good to know where the main core was, in the case you would like to escape to other cities.
3.) Discuss with other girls in your sharehouse, about a safe place outside, if the sharehouse is not safe to be in after an earthquake. At least you wouldn’t be alone outside after the disaster.
4.) Let the embassy of your country know you are living in Japan by registering your contact information. The embassy can assist you more before, during and after the earthquake. In my experience of the earthquake in 2011, the Dutch embassy contacted the Dutch people who had lived in Japan, that the embassy could arrange airplane tickets from Japan to the Netherlands for free.
5.) Make your house dangerous free. So check if the bookcase is standing against the wall and if certain breakable items are not on the top of a furniture. If necessary, you can tape certain cabinets or closets on the floor, just in case.
6.) Prepare an emergency kit. You can buy those kits in Don Quijote, Amazon.com, home good stores and home centers. Or you can prepare an emergency kit by yourself.
What kind of items are useful to have before the earthquake:
A couple bottles of water
Flashlight + spare of batteries
Mobile phone charger
Radio + spare of batteries
Canned food and other ready-to-eat food
Big plastic sheets, like garbage bags or poncho
Copy of all your important documents, health insurance, bank information, passport etc.
Our sharehouse Apricot Terrace is in Sugamo. Sugamo is a slice of pure, classic Tokyo, served up at your grandparents’ house because you told them your mum hasn’t fed you yet.
Sugamo is known locally as ‘Granny’s Harajuku’ and it’s easy to see why. Geriatrics visit Jizo Dori in their hordes to get the best picks of traditional Japanese sweets, premium matcha tea and old-timey fashions.
But this grandma’s paradise holds plenty of attractions for any ages. Especially visitors who want to see a more old fashioned side of Tokyo. These are our favourites.
The mascot of Sugamo is a very round, white duck called Sugamon and he is adorable. A replica of his butt is stationed at the entrance to Jizo Dori, which can be stroked for a boost of luck in love. His schedule is written only in Japanese, but you can be sure he’ll make an appearance at all Sugamo’s festivals and events. His bum also looks like the shio daifuku that Sugamo is famous for. Mochi filled with red bean paste and flavoured with salt to counteract the sweetness. http://sugamon.jp/
Maruji Red Pants
You may notice an abundance of bright red panties. Not so much Sugamo’s saucy underbelly, rather these underwear are believed to grant you good health if you wear them. Judging by the average age of their patrons, there may be something in it…
This temple is more commonly known by its nickname of Togenuki Jizo, meaning ‘Jizo that draws out the thorn’ in reference to a story about the Jizo deity that is enshrined there. A samurai drew 10,000 pictures of the deity in order to cure his wife’s disease and after that the pictures were also used to cure a woman who had swallowed a thorn. Even now, this temple is very popular with people who want to cure their ailments.
Purveyors of traditional Japanese sweets, you can watch fresh dorayaki being made in front of your very eyes. They also offer cute, colourful monaka for only 100 yen each. A sweet traditionally served with tea, consisting of a jam filling (there’s a choice of flavours such as red bean paste or plum) sandwiched between crisp mochi wafers. A perfect souvenir of your time in Sugamo!
Traditional Japanese Clothing
Although the vast majority of the clothes in Sugamo are geared towards a more mature market, if you want to buy some traditional Japanese wear there are bargains to be had. Old ladies know where to get value for their money. Yukata, which are light, summer kimonos can be found for unbelievably low prices.
If you want to know even more about Sugamo, read our previous blog about the market that takes place there!
One of our share houses is Happy House Asian. It is located in a Showa (1926 – 1989) developed、lively and cozy area close to Nakano station. Happy House Asian is a house of two-stories, lived by a geisha, which its architecture is the traditional Japanese style. Interior rice-paper windows (shoji), rice-paper door (fusuma), wooden exposed beams and columns, bamboo finish and old style entrance (genkan) make it a true geisha house.
It is built in the beginning of Showa period and hasn’t been renovated for a while. In the beginning of this house as a share house Happy House Asian, the most parts have been kept from the original when the geisha was living here. Finally, it has been time to renovate this geisha house!
Tulip Real Estate started to think of ideas in September and step by step the house has changed. The idea is keeping the geisha character, but making it brighter and cozier. We are trying to finish the new look in Happy House Asian in the end of January.
The current stage:
Image below: There will be some new items in the house!
Image below: Ready to repair some corners. A collaboration between the Tulip staff and the professional handymen.
Image below: Spraying the umbrella racks to a goldish color to fit more in the new entrance.
Image below: The carpenters repaired wooden parts. In the kitchen the upper wooden part was rotten and it really needed reparation.
Image below: Planning to use some Japanese patterned curtains and cushions.
Image below: We are keeping the beautiful original wooden ceiling, but we had to repair some parts.
Image below: The dormitory space is already emptied and the wooden work had been done too. It is time for paint.
In January 2020, we will give you an update and show the transformed version of Happy House Asian. Wishing everybody a happy new year!
Are you new to Japan and trying to settle into your new share house or apartment? Or have you been living in Japan for years and still haven’t cracked the code of Kanji? You’re in luck because we have made a Share House Cheat Sheet Series for your electronic appliances so go ahead and finally give Google Translate a rest!
Tulip Real Estate is a female-run share house company located in Tokyo that aims to support women who want to enjoy the city life, maintain their careers, or start up their own business ventures all while saving up their finances. When living in a share house, not only can you practice your language skills and meet new people, but you can also save a ton of yen by not having to buy your own home appliances. Tulip Real Estate share houses provide furnished living rooms, kitchens, dish ware, cookware, utensils, and electronic appliances.
Being able to use all of these appliances freely at your fingertips is amazing, but if you can’t read the language, be prepared to run into some issues. Luckily we have got your back, enjoy these cheat sheets and let’s memorize them once and for all!
Air conditioner/Heater remote controller translation from kanji so you can finally know right away not to turn on the heater on a sweltering summer day in Japan.
Next up is our kanji cheat sheet for the washing machine and drying machine. Say goodbye to the days of pressing that one, standard button for all types of clothing or accidentally pressing the wrong button with no return. Wash your delicates with the love and care that they deserve!
Most Japanese kitchens do not have a large, industrial oven like many households might have in the west. Instead, 2-in-1 microwave ovens are quite standard in order to save space.
Another common appliance in most homes in Japan are IH stoves opposed to the gas stove. Take note that some power buttons require you to hold for about 2 seconds!
The most-loved toilet around the world, Japanese electronic bidet toilets. These bidets can be found not only in homes but are pretty common in many establishments all around Japan. There are also two flush settings you may find on the handle with 小 (small) and 大 (large) in order to save water. Eco-friendly and luxurious!
Who knew that there were so many ways to cook rice! Check out the rice cooker kanji guide so you can cook rice properly, it is after all a staple in every Japanese meal.
There you have it, hopefully you are one step closer on your journey to mastering kanji!
Omotesando’s more down-to-earth neighbor and Harajuku’s more sophisticated older sister; Aoyama is a place to refresh, get inspired and feel fancy. So it only makes sense that our staff decided to make it our go-to destination for a girls night out – Tulip style!
There is a certain air to Aoyama that gives it an exclusive feel, perhaps because it is tucked away in the hilly slopes of Tokyo, but the small streets do not feel too narrow. Or maybe it’s the effortlessly fashionable artists and designers that can be overheard talking about their up and coming projects in passing. The tiny, boutique shops and local bars’ dedication to their craft to produce top-notch quality and protect the artisan culture, or maybe it is the eclectic architecture that somehow the groups of tourists have not yet discovered.
Heading over to dinner, we passed by Sunny Hills, designed by one of Tokyo’s most beloved modern architects, Kengo Kuma. Fans of Kuma’s work should definitely check out his many projects scattered around Kagurazaka, where we also happen to have two lovely share houses, Chilli Pepper & Cream and Happy House Kagurazaka.
As we approached the restaurant, we were taken aback at the gorgeous exterior and atmosphere. Walking through the bar area (and slightly regretting our outfit choices), we were shown to a table seated by a lit-up terrace.
Cicada is located just a minute’s walk from Omotesando Station and specializes in modern Mediterranean cuisine. The space itself has a Euro-chic atmosphere but the flavor of the dishes were deliciously authentic. We started with some toasted pita accompanied by various dips of your choice – we went with the classic hummus and a carrot, yogurt, & mint spread.
The cocktail menu was very impressive, which is expected as the restaurant is owned by Tysons & Company, the founders of T.Y. Harbor Brewery.
After our lots of chatting, laughs and “kanpais!” we scoped around the area for a place to grab some cocktails. We stumbled upon Radio Bar and were intrigued by its retro atmosphere, like something out of an old Japanese movie. It turned out that Radio Bar has been around since the 1970s, and THE place to go for cocktail connoisseurs and aspiring mixologists to enjoy a proper pour (which is hard to come across in Tokyo nowadays amongst all the Lemon Sours and Whiskey High Balls).
Accompanied with an incredibly delicious spread of fresh fruits and cheese came Bar Radio’s original cocktails served with impeccable presentation. Each cocktail has been meticulously crafted and perfected over the decades and we appreciated the attention to detail until the last very last drop. Because of the high standards of the establishment, the cocktails are not at all cheap and be prepared to be on your best behavior, that also means to dress accordingly!
Satisfied and slightly emotional over how exquisite our night has been so far, we were not ready for it to end. We decided to check out the nearby Commune 2nd, suggested by our staff Jan who is in the know about many Tokyo’s hidden gems.
At Commune 2nd, you will be greeted with hip, neon clad signs, beer and food stands with a modern-style food truck-like layout, and groups of merry making locals and foreigners alike enjoying themselves over drinks and food.
Commune 2nd closes at 10 PM, let’s clarify that all the shops and eating spaces close at 10 PM sharp! We had too much fun in the lively atmosphere and did not want to leave, but had to take a team pic while we were getting kicked out.
Although at first a bit intimidated and unfamiliar with the Aoyama area, it has become one of our favorite places to explore. Stay tuned for hopefully an Aoyama Part 2 Guide by the Tulip Team and also a possible share house that will be newly opening up in Aoyama some time in the future 😉
Thanks for reading and enjoy Tokyo to the fullest! Tulip Real Estate specializes in female-only share houses in Tokyo. Send us a message to ask about our share houses and we are more than happy to recommended our favorite places to check out nearby.
We met up with Klaudia, a resident in our Happy House Vitamin Color shared house. We strolled through the park with her and ask about her experience in the house.
Happy House Vitamin Color
Klaudia, what interested you to live in a shared house?
As a foreigner, looking for a place to live in Japan is pretty difficult. It was a much easier method than an apartment and I really liked that Tulip’s shared houses are for women only, so I don’t have to worry about feeling uncomfortable.
What is your favorite thing about living in Happy House Vitamin Color?
I work and am a student so I actually don’t spend too much time in the flat. But I love to cook so I use the kitchen often and also love to relax in my room. I have a balcony in my room so I can even sit out there!
Admiring the rainy season’s hydrangeas
How would you describe the surrounding area you live in? Do you have any favorite spots?
I think Nakano is great because it is a bit of a student’s area. Other areas like the main Shinjuku area or Shibuya are very loud and are like party places. I’m a student so for me, it’s better to live in this area because it is so much more quiet. It’s so nice because there are a lot of parks, temples, and shrines around here.
Taking a stroll at the nearby park
What are your favorite things to do in Tokyo?
I am busy working usually, haha! But I love travelling outside of the Tokyo area like to Kamakura or Yokohama because of the port. At night, it really looks like a movie with all of the beautiful lights. I like the Chinatown in Yokohama too.
Has living in a shared space help or change you in any way? How so?
I love cooking at night and early in the morning, but I think about others more like, “Oh, people are asleep right now. I can’t be noisy!” In Poland, we make a lot of food that will last us for a couple of days. But because there is not so much space in Japan, I get to cook more and am more aware about space now.
Klaudia’s favorite jogging route
Have you had any challenges in the house that you were able to overcome or resolve?
I don’t have any problems with the house or the people living here. I’m so relaxed so if someone is making a little bit noise, it doesn’t bother me. I’ve heard some people singing in the house sometimes and I think it’s really funny!
Do you have any other plans in the future while you are in Tokyo?
I would firstly like to finish my Japanese studies and would like to have some time to travel more in Japan. Since I love to bake pastries and cakes, it would be great if I can open my own business here one day and run a bakery.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about your experience in your shared house?
If you have never lived in a shared house before, it might take a bit to get used to at first. It’s important to remember that you are in Japan, so the size of the spaces are different if you come from a western culture. It is a good and unique thing to experience here!
Spring is now upon us and cherry blossoms are in bloom! The Tulip Team have put our heads together to present you with the best sakura viewing spots next to each and every of our share houses. Below is a list of 14 parks and places with which you wonderful ladies and gents can refer to next time you’re in town for the traditional Japanese cherry blossom viewing custom also known as hanami (花見). From lively, popular viewing spots such as Yoyogi Park in Shibuya, to serene hidden gems in the likes of Araiyakushi Park in Nakano, we’re sure you’ll find one that suits your fancy to admire the fleeting yet sensational wonder that is Japan’s sakura!
A brisk 12-min walk from Happy House Asianand an 18-min walk from Happy House Orange is Nakano Central Park, a dog-friendly open space lined with sakura trees, plenty of eateries (think cafes and shops), convenience stores, and, depending on the time of visit, an impressive, ever-changing collection of food trucks. Nakano Central Park is also the venue of the Cozy Culture Club’s debut hanami picnic event! Bring your own bento and join us for a FREE afternoon of language and culture exchange fun. We’ll be also grabbing freshly brewed Kirin beer at the foodtrucks nearby, so be sure to bring some change.
Interested? Sign up on Facebook or Meetup, we’d love to see you there!
Nakano Central Park 中野セントラルパーク
4 Chome 10-2 Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo 164-0001
Nakano Station | FREE Admission
2. Araiyakushi Park 新井薬師公園 | Nakano
For a quiet, pleasant hanami party, take a 3-min stroll down from our Happy House Vitamin Color, Araiyakushi Park is home to 24 beautiful cherry blossom trees. The park is teeming with greenery and features a relaxing Japanese-style koi pond swimming with goldfish and carp, the Arai Yakushi Otera Temple, and a brilliant spectacle of cherry blossom illuminations during hanami season.
Araiyakushi Park 新井薬師公園
5-4 Arai, Nakano-ku, Tokyo 165-0026
Araiyakushi-mae Station | FREE Admission
3. Tetsugakudo Park or Temple Garden of Philosophy 哲学堂公園 | Nakano
Walk 2-min from Cozy Village Jasmine or hop on the 中41 bus heading towards Nakano Station from Happy House Herb for a 10-min ride to a beautiful part forest and part park scenery of ponds, river, and tall trees. Testsugakudo Park, while small-scale compared to the likes of Shinjuku Gyoen and Yoyogi, the park’s 77 philosophy-inspired buildings, stonework, and pathways make for a lovely, serene afternoon stroll. Cherry blossom trees line the riverside leading to a cherry blossom circle perfect for hanami picnics. PS. Happy House Vitamin Colorresidents, you’re in luck with options, the park is an 18-min walk from the sharehouse!
Tetsugakudo Park 哲学堂公園
1-34-34 Matsugaoka, Nakano-ku, Tokyo 165-0024
While Yoyogi Park isn’t the most picturesque of parks in terms of landscape design, its wide open space ensures you won’t be fighting for inches of grass on which to layout your picnic blanket. Plus it ensures you a view of the cherry blossoms no matter where you’re seated! Psst, Witt-style Yoyogiand Witt-style Jinguresidents, the park is a mere 5-10min walk from the sharehouse – leaving you ladies with no excuse NOT to go out on a hanami excursion.
Yoyogi Park 代々木公園
2-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0052
Harajuku / Yoyogi-Koen / Yoyogi-Hachiman / Sangubashi / Meiji-Jingumae Station Station | FREE Admission
5. Setagaya Park 世田谷公園 | Setagaya
Despite mainly catering to horse-riding children (yes, there are actual horses meandering on site!), Setagaya Park is home to several beautiful gardens, lovely grassy knolls, a center piece water fountain, and, of course, plenty of cherry blossom trees for hanami. If you are lucky, you might even stumble on an occassional flea market. Psst, this gem of a park is lcoated only a mere 10-min walk from our Witt-style Mishuku sharehouse!
Setagaya Park 世田谷公園
15-27 Ikejiri, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 154-0001
Sangen-jaya / Ikejiri-ohashi Station | FREE Admission
Slightly off the beaten path is the quiet, lush greenery of Wadabori Park, a natural enclave from the city’s hustle and bustle. Happy House Kamikitazawaresidents, take a perfectly doable 15-20min breezy afternoon bike ride from the share house and lose yourself in the leafy shades, and unwind with a stress-free spring stroll down the path lined with cherry blossom trees along the Zenpukuji River. Best of all, the park features 10 BBQ facilities (reservation with the Suginami Ward Office required) and the athletic fields are free for all on the 1st Sunday and 3rd Saturday of the month!
Wadabori Park 和田堀公園
2-23 Omiya, Suginami-ku, Tokyo 168-0061
Nishi-Eifuku Station | FREE Admission
7. Toshimaen Amusement Park
10-min by foot from our Witt-style CloveR is Toshimaen. A lively amuseument and water park throughout the year, the charming old-fashioned park is magically lit up after dark during sakura season. The park’s special “Sakura Nights” entry program provides unlimited access to designated rides and attractions while admiring the illluminations on over 500 cherry blossom trees!
For more sakura illuminations, head over to the exquisite Japanese-style Rikugien Gardens at Sugamo Station near our Witt-style Apricot Terrace. After sunset, the gorgeous Waka poetry-themed park is transformed into a brilliant fairlyland of dazzling cherry blossom illuminations that are well-worth the entrance fee. PS. Word of advise, book online and get there early to make it in ahead of the line of lovebirds! Oh, and don’t forget to bring your camera!
Formed in the Edo era, the Kanda River runs from Inkoashira Park in Mitaka Ward, joining the Sumida River underneath the Ryogoku Bridge. Numerous cherry blossom trees bloom along the riverside, however, one of the best spots to view it is at this particular point inside Edogawa Park, titled 神田川桜並木 on Google Maps, which is a 9-min walk from Happy House Kagurazakaand a 18-min walk from Happy House Stella. The river itself is only a 10-min walk from Happy House Stella, and nearby parks include as Kansen-en Park, Higo-Hosokawa Garden, and the Chinzanso Garden.
2-1 Sekiguchi, Bunkyo, Tokyo 112-0014
Edogawa Park 江戸川公園
2-2-1 Sekiguchi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-8555
For yet another river-side hanami picnic option, why not check out Sotobori Park, with a promenade that connects Ichigaya and Iidabashi Station. Chilli Pepper and Cream residents! Make a 5-min walk down to the park to enjoy a relaxing morning or afternoon stroll (whichever suits your fancy!) underneath a canopy of white cherry blossom petals while listening to soft river sounds!
Sotobori Park 外濠公園
2-9 Gobancho, Chiyoda, Tokyo 102-0071
Iidabashi Station | FREE Admission
11. Meguro River Park 目黒川船入場 | Meguro
Constantly featuring in Tokyo’s top 10 hanami viewing lists, Meguro River Park is THE place to go for a feel of the much-talked about cherry blossom rain and all-around hanami atmosphere. Numerous small, delectable eateries lining both riversides present the perfect opportunity for a quick bite (or two!). We highly recommend getting there around dusk, grabbing something nice to drink (ala our staff did in the pic above!), and enjoying the changing view from light to night. Our Witt-style Nakameguro residents are in luck, the hanami hot spot is just a 17-min bus trip or a 15-min bike ride from the house!
Meguro River Park 目黒川船入場
1-11-18 Nakameguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0061
The hanami scene at Roka Koshun-en Park is hands down the most floral site on our list, with a fusion of colors from both pink sakura and yellow rapeseed blossoms! Former residence of famed writer and philosopher Roka Tokutomi, actual name Kenjiro Tokutomi, the historic park grounds contain the author’s prior place of abode, a garden and bamboo forest, a shrine, and an abundance of forest-like flora. OKURA HOUSE ladies, we promise you it’s absolutely worth the 15-min bike ride!
Roka Koshun-en Park 蘆花恒春園
1-20-1 Kasuya, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 157-0063
Take a break from Roppongi and enjoy the cherry blossoms with a view of the city’s signature Tokyo Tower at Shiba Park. While not the most aesthetic of parks, its spacious grass fields is excellent for a spot of afternoon napping or for unrolling a substantial picnic spread. The park is also adjacent to the impressive Zojoji Temple, making it a perfect blend of modern, history, and nature sights – all this just a 15 to 20-min walk from our Witt-style Roppongi!
Shiba Park 芝公園
4-8 Shibakoen, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0011
Measuring 260,000 square meters, Johoku Central Park is one of the city’s largest with plenty of green, open space for spreading out picnic baskets and blankets. With its vast grassy fields, a huge athletic field, and plenty of tall trees, our Happy House mint residents only need make a 11-min walk to reach the perfect spot to do a bit of jogging or an early morning outdoor yoga session! PS. The park also has a special area designated for housing Moro relics dating back to the stone ages to satisfy your inner history buff.
Johoku Chuo Park 都立城北中央公園
1-3-1 Hikawadai, Nerima-ku, Tokyo 179-0084
If you’re planning a working holiday in Japan, accommodation will be high on your list of priorities.
For those on a year long visa, renting a normal apartment is usually a no-go. 2 year contracts are necessary and initial costs can go through the roof. Often landlords will ask for a hefty deposit, plus 2 months’ rent upfront, plus key money, management fees and they will probably ask for a Japanese guarantor. You’re also likely to be hit with the disheartening ‘no foreigners allowed’. For someone on a fun year abroad, this is stress you don’t need.
With apartments out of the mix, where can you stay at a reasonable price? Here are the options:
Hostels are traditionally the go-to accommodation of working holiday makers and backpackers. Much cheaper than a hotel and easier to make friends. This is the best option if you’re only staying very short term to sight-see. Some even let you stay for free in exchange for cleaning duties or other work around the hostel.
If you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of privacy, hostels are probably the most affordable option.
But of course, a working holiday isn’t just about the ‘holiday’ part, for most people it’s also necessary to work. The idea of coming back to a rowdy hostel after a long day’s work is a bit unappealing.
These days, many people look to Airbnb, since you can search a range of properties and easily compare prices. Sometimes you can get whole apartments to yourself at a relatively cheap price.
But since the site itself takes commission, it can hike the prices up. The host will probably also just be expecting you to stay short term and you could risk outstaying your welcome.
Compared to the other options, it may also be a bit difficult to make friends.
International Share Houses
International residents are welcomed, as they can contribute to culture and language exchange within the house. Even if a private room is out of your budget, increasingly in big cities like Tokyo, room shares and dormitories are possible, meaning the prices are very reasonable. Unlike normal apartments, short term contracts from 1 month upwards, are very common. You can usually book from abroad, making them perfect for Working Holiday-ers.
In international share houses, you can make friends from all over the world and practice your Japanese in casual, daily life situations with your housemates. By living in this environment, you can learn more about Japanese life and culture than you would in a hostel. They are also safer and cleaner than most cheap hostels. A share house also gives you a stable address to apply at the city hall for health insurance and make a bank account for your income.
A working holiday will probably form one of the best memories of your life and it’s bound to contain a few downs, as well as all the ups. This is what makes it such an adventure. But by snagging some stable accommodation, you can eliminate at least some of the uncertainty!