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.
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.