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.


How to Get Freebies When You Move in and Giveaway or Sell Stuff When You Move Out.

Moving in Japan either moving in or moving out is expensive. As most rental places in Japan require that you vacate the room when you move out and the room will be completely empty when you move in despite the very complicated , time consuming  process for throwing away the garbage and the fact that most people in Tokyo  don’t have easy access to a car. People very often end up paying large sum of money to get rid of good appliances, furniture and other equipment in their old place  and spend another big amount buying in new stuff upon moving in another place.  Unfortunately, some people either can’t afford or don’t want to pay for disposing fees, so unwanted appliances (sometimes containing toxic components) often end up dumped in scrub on the borders of urban areas. And even though they manage to pay up and  properly dispose many perfectly good and functioning  appliances and furniture end up being nothing but a land fill.

In big city like Tokyo where people move in and move out of somewhere all the time,  with a little more efforts we can avoid these tragic cycle and be more friendly to the earth by making the most in stead of disposing of our limited resources. Let`s give and share. Let’s care and adopt.  You are not only saving your own money but also the innocent polar bears. The world  is getting hotter and hotter. Let`s recycle. And here are the list of How to Get Freebies When You Move in  and Giveaway or Sell Stuff When You Move Out.

Facebook Groups

There are a number of groups on Facebook (all closed) for people looking to recycle, exchange or sell their used goods. You just need to click to ask to join the group and the admin will roughly look in you profile page just to check if there is any post that shows that you are actually living in Japan. Then you should be accepted withing a few days at most.  Make sure you read the rules for each before joining and posting your stuff.

  • Mottainai Japan  This group is only for giving away items. All ISO (In Search Of) posts will be deleted, possibly without further warning. If you are looking for something, there is a group called In Search Of- Japan, where you can ask for something you need.
  • In Search Of- Japan

There are also some Facebook groups that is  for both giving away , and also for sale / buy cheap second hand stuffs ;

Tokyo Freecycle

Freecycling is a system popular around the world which encourages people to gift usable items to anyone who wants them. In Tokyo this happens through a Yahoo! Groups mailing list.  Members send emails to the list either offering items or asking for items. Everything offered must be completely free—although if you want something, you’ll probably have to pay for the shipping.   Typically there are 3 to 4 posts per day, but occasionally, the rejects from a sayonara saleare put on the list and there can be a flood of good items available for free.


Gaijin/Foreigner Community website

Many  foreigner community websites also have a page  where you can post the item you want to giveaway or what you want to sell or what you are in search of.

  •  Tokyo craiglist    I also got my fully equiped good conditioned 6 geared bicycle from this website for 4000 JPY of the original price of 24,000 JPY from an expat who was moving back. The tips is you should check the post at least  twice around 1 am and 1pm that is when the fresh post will be updated.
  • Gaijinpot
  • Sayonarasale
  • Reddit

Tulip Real Estate Co., Ltd. places importance on the creating the environment where independent women can live comfortably.  It is our mission to support the women who keep making efforts for their own future. We advocates a safe, comfortable and convenient yet affordable life in Tokyo so that women can save up and afford to invest in themselves and achieve their future dreams. That is the reason

why we remove the unnecessary expense/customs such as; non-refundable deposit, key money, renewal fees and broker’s commission.etc.

We hope this article will be another way to help women not only save up wisely but another step to be more friendly and responsible to our environment.

With love and care

International Unit

Tulip Real Estate Co., Ltd.



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Resident Interview: Happy House Asian, Nakano with Emi from Osaka

We had the chance to meet with Emi, a resident in our Happy House Asian shared house. We chatted with her over some tea about her experience there and strolled around the neighborhood.

Emi, what interested you to live in a shared house?

Well, I have never lived in a shared house in Japan before. There aren’t so many shared houses in Osaka, so I was interested in trying it out in Tokyo!

 What is your favorite thing about living in Happy House Asian?

I love the house because it is a very traditional Japanese style. Most people wear slippers in other shared houses, but it suits this house to walk around barefoot and feels very relaxed. I also really like that when I come home, I pass by the other dorms and can have a conversation with the housemates at the end of the day. We also go out and have a drink together sometimes.

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

This area of Nakano is very quiet and serene. I love the neighborhood cats that walk around, it feels like I am in a Ghibli movie. Of course there are many cafes around but there are also a lot of bento shops, a coin laundry nearby, and a great public bath too. I’d say that it’s pretty easy to live in this area. My favorite place to eat here is a yakitori restaurant. I often go by myself, actually.

Emi’s favorite spot in the area

What are your favorite things to do in Tokyo?

 I mostly like to do indoor activities such as going to the gym or reading books, so it doesn’t really matter what city I am in, haha! There are a lot of nice big parks and art museums in Tokyo too and I like to go and spend time enjoying them.

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

 I’m sure it has! I’ve definitely been more aware of myself and how I utilize space.  I’ve also been able to meet people of different lifestyles and cultures. It makes me think, “Wow, there are people that do things or see things this way,” that I was able to experience for the first time.

Traditional Japanese snack shop

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

There isn’t any obstacle that comes to mind. There was a time that hot water didn’t come out! It was fixed quickly afterwards so that was great. But for the most part, all of the housemates really respect the space and keep it very clean so we don’t have many issues at all.

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

 Hm…The idea of owning a business is interesting perhaps? In Tokyo, the image of business workers is rather uptight. Go to a local bar and you can get a glimpse of what I mean. That’s not my personality at all so I’m not too sure. In the past, I myself was a bit more uptight and I think that living in a shared house has helped me become more at ease.

Goodies from the local bento and sweets shop

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

 If you want to come to Tokyo, you can really do it! You can find lots of different locations to live in this city. Especially in a shared house; it’s convenient, affordable, and if you are a foreigner, it may be even more hassle-free to move into a shared house.

What Should I Do Before, During, And After An Earthquake?


Japan is a country that is prominent in the world for having earthquakes. During the period of one year of my stay in Japan I have had experience approximately 10 , big and small earthquakes or so.  However, as according to Japanese people who know their home the best it is not necessary to always feel anxiety when it comes to “earthquakes”.

That is because  just as much as there are earthquakes, schemes have been made in order for Japan’s architectural structure to be able to withstand earthquakes. Almost all of Japan’s buildings are made to be able to withstand earthquakes to a certain extent.

And if anything, panicking just because an earthquake occurs can be more dangerous. It is best to get your self well informed and prepared. And here below are some basics and useful information that Tulip Real Estates Co., Ltd. has compiled for you.

What to Do Before an Earthquake

  • Make sure you have a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight, and extra batteries at home. For Tulip Real Estate Co, Ltd.`s share house , we provide fire extinguishers,flashlight, and extra batteries and other emergency equipment at all houses. Every resident must be taught how to use the fire extinguisher and locations of the emergency kit upon move in procedure.
  • Learn first aid.
  • Learn how to turn off the gas, water, and electricity.
  • Make up a plan of where to meet your family after an earthquake.
  • Don’t leave heavy objects on shelves (they’ll fall during a quake).
  • Anchor heavy furniture, cupboards, and appliances to the walls or floor.
  • Learn the earthquake plan at your school or workplace.

What to Do During an Earthquake

Stay calm! If you’re indoors, stay inside. If you’re outside, stay outside.

  1. Protect yourself

If you’re indoors, stand against a wall near the center of the building, stand in a doorway, protect your head with a helmet or cushion, and hide in a safe place, such as under a table. Stay away from windows and outside doors. Running outside is potentially dangerous, because roof tiles and glass may fall on you.

2. Extinguish flames

Major aftershocks can come after the smallest earthquakes. Calmly extinguish any nearby flames.


If you are cooking, oil or boiling water may spill during the quake. Under such circumstances, you should immediately distance yourself from the oil or water and extinguish the flames after the quake stops.

Don’t use matches, candles, or any flame. Broken gas lines and fire don’t mix.

What to Do After an Earthquake

Open your door and secure an escape route

Earthquakes can warp buildings, especially apartment buildings, making it impossible to open doors and escape. Open doors and windows to secure an escape route and prevent yourself from becoming trapped.


Be careful of broken glass

You may injure your feet on broken glass and other objects. Prepare a flashlight and slippers near your bed so you will be able to move safely.  Be careful around broken glass and debris. Wear boots or sturdy shoes to keep from cutting your feet.

Never return to your house

Once you have evacuated, never return to the house to get money or possessions. You may become trapped under debris or caught in a fire. Try to avoid entering your house until safety is confirmed.

Walk to your refuge area

Many emergency vehicles, such as fire engines and ambulances, will be using roads during disasters. Obstructing emergency vehicles immediately increases the damage caused by a disaster. Never use cars during an earthquake.

Where is My Evacuation Area in Tokyo?

Evacuation tips

Avoid phone calls after a disaster

Turn on the radio. Don’t use the phone unless it’s an emergency.

Phone line usage jumps up during disasters because of people trying to confirm the safety of themselves or others. This can obstruct emergency phone calls, such as 110, 119, and utility information.
Please avoid unnecessary phone calls. When you want to confirm the safety of a person, try to use the NTT Disaster Telephone Message Service (171) or make conversations as short as possible.

Calmly obtain accurate information

False rumors and information can spread during disasters, leading to further confusion. Obtain accurate information from the TV or radio and don’t get tricked by misinformation.

What should I do in these stituation?

When walking outside
Take caution against falling objects, such as signs and broken windows. Tools and construction materials can fall down at a construction site. Protect your head with your bag or coat and keep at a distance from tall buildings.
Stone walls and pillars can also fall down and are potentially dangerous.
When driving a car
Firmly hold the steering wheel, gradually reduce speed, park your car on the left side of the road, and stop the engine. Listen to information on the radio and find out what is happening. If you need to evacuate, leave your keys, keep the doors unlocked, and walk away with your car documents and valuables.
When underground or in a subway
The shaking you feel when you are underground is about half of what you would experience over ground. Additionally, underground areas have strong structures and are safer than high-rise buildings. Calmly evacuate, following instructions from shop clerks and subway staff.
When in high-rise buildings
Elevators with earthquake sensors will stop at the nearest floor. Immediately leave the elevator. If you get stuck in the elevator, use the intercom to contact someone outside and wait for rescue.
When you evacuate from buildings, never use elevators, listen to announcements, and use the stairs to leave the building.
When near the ocean
Head for higher ground and carefully listen to tsunami information. Do not go near the ocean until tsunami warnings have been cleared. Don’t even think about going to watch tsunamis!


What`s More

Important Information and Communication Tools

1. Yurekuru Call is an app available for iPhone and Android that sends you a warning if an earthquake might occur in your registered location, which is part of the nationwide early warning system. Many Japanese telephones have this function already built into the phone, so it’s worth asking your mobile company about this if you decide not to go for a smartphone.

For android , please click  here

For Iphone, please click here 

2. The Disaster Emergency Message Dial (171) is a voice message board for communication when a disaster such as an earthquake or volcanic eruption occurs and telephone traffic to the disaster-stricken area increases making it difficult to transmit calls. By entering your landline phone number as a pin code, you can leave a message on the system where other family members who share the same landline number can listen to your message and record theirs as well.

For both channel,  the system prompts are all in Japanese, but if you follow the steps you can still use this valuable tool even if you don’t understand Japanese.

Continue to think about how our residents will have a peace of mind and enjoy Japan and Japanese culture that have so much to offer, we hope that this article would be more or less helpful. And  we hope that you will love Japan, including its difficult natural environment.

With love and care.

International Unit

Tulip Real Estate Co., Ltd.




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Must Have Android Apps for Living in Japan!


I`m definitely not qualified to be a tech guru. Before coming to Japan I did not even care to use google map. And I have been using Facebook just to let my close friend and family know which countries I was in now and when I would be back to my countries which means 1-3 updates a month max. I was the type who believe more in eye contact rather than screen.

But…things have changed every since I got in Japan. The first moment I have to figure out the train from the air port to downtown….[Shoot .. I should have given my handset a little more loving and ….a lot more apps!].

Here are some of the apps I would recommend you to have before coming to Tokyo.  


App for finding train times and locations the good thing about this apps is that it compares the ticket price for  you so you can pick out the most time and cost efficient route. It works both English (Romanji) and Japanese.


Japan Trains

Japan Trains is the first application for Android in Romaji that allows us to find train routes and schedules in Japan. The good thing about this app is that if you do not know or  not sure about the spelling of the name of the station or if you cannot find desired station, you can use % character as wildcard. For example: AZA%BAN will display AZABU-JUBAN station. SHIN%KOBE will display SHIN-KOBE.


MapsOn Free: Offline Map

An app that caches selected maps for offline access when no signal can be reached. Recommended anywhere in the world you go.

Google Japanese IME

Japanese keyboard with character input that features auto-fill.


Offline Japanese/English dictionary with handwritten kanji input (note: developer has ceased to update)


Offline Japanese/English dictionary with handwritten Kanji input

Kanji Recognizer

Dictionary/kanji study tool that integrates with WWWJDIC and recognizes handwritten kanji (even with the wrong stroke order) .


The most popular and widely used free texting/calling app in Japan


Yurekuru Call

An early warning app for earthquakes (customizable to magnitude and area).


McDonalds Coupon App (Japanese)

For those who looking for cheap place for reading at night or emergency pace to charge your mobile phone for free McDonalds is great help as there is always one near every station and mostly open 24 hrs. And with this app you can save up a bit.


Hope these will be helpful. And if you have any recommended apps, please drop a comment and  share with us : )

Enjoy Nihon!




Nakano`s Ramen Adventure

Ask anyone to like up Japanese food and ramen surely is listed among the top. Japanese governments even made it the latest “Cool Japan”  , government efforts to take advantage of this spreading interest in Japan’s pop culture and food around the world, and its growth potential. Please see more in

The Cool Japan Fund set up by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry last year said Monday it would spend up to ¥2 billion ($17 million) to help a ramen noodle restaurant chain expand its business in Europe and the United States.

So to keep up with the trend 2 colleagues/Ramen maniacs  set out on Nakano`s Ramen (little) Adventure. We found out that there are 2 ramen stores listed in  TRY (Tokyo Ramen of the Year) in Numabukuro, near 2 of our share houses  Happy House Vitamin Color and Happy House Asian

1) Gotaro Ramen (ごたる (Gotaru in Numabukuro)

Simple, not too creamy, and inexpensive describe the Hakata ramen at Gotaru, 650 Yen. The chashu is especially buttery, and it almost melts in your mouth. This bowl goes on the short-list of great tonkotsu ramen shops in Tokyo.

Tokyo, Nakano-ku, Arai 3-38-10
Closest station: Numabukuro

Open 11:30-14:30, 17:00-23:00
Weekends 11:30-23:00
Closed Mondays


A ramen shop from Kyoto opened in Tokyo, MUTEPPOU 8 mins walk from Numabukuro station.

3 words to describe it?  Its heavy, oily yet tasty.  For certain one of the most intense tonkotsu ramens out there.

Muteppou’s broth is made of pork bones.. It is boiled until the bones are completely crushed and the chef is constantly mixing the bones or broth using a huge stainless steel stick. I had the famous Tonkotsu ramen (Pork bone broth ramen) for 750 yen.The soup was so extra thick and creamy that you can feel the gluey soup coat the noodle when you lifted with shopsticks.  They also have fish broth, which is also good and thick. My colleague have the fish broth one. If you are not a big fan of creamy stuff the fish broth is recommended.


For girls living in Nakano and Egoda area. Happy House Vitamin Color, Happy House Asian, Happy House Orange,and  Happy House Herb, its in walking distance. Especially Happy House Vitamin Color , it`s less than 5 minutes` walk.

Would you like to have a ramen night out with us?




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Birthday Abroad

Birthdays. Everyone has them. Some of us try and forget them, but most of us do something to mark the occasion. Especially when it’s one of the “big” days, one with a zero.

But what happens when you’ve just arrived in a new country and you don’t have any friends and your family are on the other side of the globe? Who do you celebrate with then?

Welcome to the sometimes-lonely world of the expat  OR celebrate it with housemates at Witt-style Jingu : )

Pham Ngan, an engineering interns from Germany- our newest member at Witt-style Jingu moved in 1 day after her 25th birthday and celebrate Welcome/ Birthday party with Charlotte , housemate from UK.  Thank you our lovely Japanese houses member Kumasan for  her big-heart and hospitality in arrange all these. As it turned out, they had a great evening.

As a person who has been relocated for work every 2 years for the past decade, I know there will be ups and downs as when we move abroad, but occasions – birthdays, Christmas – are often the toughest times. We are happy to see  what people sharing the same house do to mark those special occasions together.  Good things deserve celebrations and when you cerebrate with others, it multiplies the fun and makes it more memorable.

Well, when you are far away you’ll just have to think of something to make up for it. And of course it wont happen alone / on its own. Thank you our lovely houses members for your loving and kindness that making our share house a “home”. And thank you for sharing with us these beautiful moments. .

I’m sure happiness is contagious : ).


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Nakano in Bloom

Our house member at Happy House Vitamin Color  in Nakano has decided that there was no better time to celebrate the season than last weekend 1-3 April, Sakura Festival at Nakano Dori.  After all, what could be more healing than gathering with friends under the beautiful flowers that pop up throughout Japan from late March through early April?

People unfamiliar with Japanese culture might wonder why all the fuss over some flowers.

“Hanami is in our DNA.” said Norie Mizutani our Director at Tulip Real Estate Co., Ltd.       “It`s not just viewing the flowers.  There is a lot more meaning underneath it.”

She explained that for most Japanese, hanami is a meaningful gathering that allows them to reconnect and come together socially with family and friends.

To me I feel the notion of “Do not take our daily life for granted-seize the day and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us  at its best.”


The spirit of hanami — people coming together to appreciate nature — was still alive and well in Nakano


And the manner in which the season allowed people to gather and heal spoke volumes to me about how the Japanese can come together in times of great adversity. Like the flowers in bloom, it was an encouraging sight.



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