Saturday, November 17, 2007

Apartment Priorities

Yesterday I had a lesson with a student who is looking to move soon. I saw this as a good opportunity to interview her on what aspects she was going to prioritize when choosing an apartment. While some of her answers were in line with things I'd heard before were priorities, others were not. The things she was hoping for were:
  • a place within a 5-minute walk of the station.
  • a well-lit path between her apartment and the station.
  • a path that included good shopping opportunities for daily necessities
  • a 2nd or 3rd floor place
  • a place that cost 100,000 yen or less and was a 2DK (2 rooms plus a larger combined dining room/kitchen room)
  • a place that the sunshine reached and wasn't blocked by other buildings
  • a balcony
When you seek out a place in Japan, you often hear about how access to sunshine and closeness to the nearest station are big issues. Being on the 2nd or 3rd floor tends to relate to getting more sunlight but this wasn't the reason my student wanted to not be on the first floor. She said she felt there'd be less of a chance of a break-in while she was at work if she wasn't on the first floor.

In regards to a well-lit path, this is something my other female students have mentioned as well. They feel that it's more secure. None of those other students had any experience to back up their concerns but last night's student told me that she has been followed and groped by men at least once a year (on average) over the past decade.

I also asked her about a point regarding layout that came up in comments in a previous post of mine regarding my apartment's layout. I asked her if she preferred a layout which opened directly into the kitchen (or whatever the front room was) or if she preferred a tunnel-like hallway leading up to the first room. She said she preferred the latter set-up and believed most Japanese people did as well. Her reason for this was related to privacy. She said that she didn't like opening the door to deliverymen or mail carriers and having them see directly into her apartment.

This particular student said she wanted a balcony mainly for hanging out laundry to dry (though she has a dryer) and airing out her futon (though she hopes to buy a bed for her new place), but she has told me in the past that she keeps no trash cans whatsoever in her place and just seals up her trash with shopping bags each and every time she creates any and tosses it on her balcony until the collection day rolls around. I'm guessing that this will thrill her future neighbors.


Mari said...

I'm the same :) Many people have told me that I'd already told them some story and it can be awkward sometimes. But then it's also nice they sort of remember.

Mari said...

By the way, thanks for adding me to your blogroll :)

Mari said...

Oops, I commented on the wrong post... :)

Miko said...

A timely post for me, at least regarding safety issues for women in Japan. I had a scary experience today.

One of my friends didn't show up for a lunch date, which was most uncharacteristic of her. I waited for an hour at the station before going home (she didn't respond to any emails, either). I was rather worried, because she's a single working girl who lives alone, far from family, and because a few weeks ago her home was ransacked and burgled which unnerved her so much that she's now looking for a new place.

Anyway, just a few minutes ago I was able to make contact with her, and I'm so relieved! (She was stuck in an extraordinary meeting at her office, and couldn't use her phone.)

I do hope that she moves to a much more secure apartment, though.

Shari said...

Every time I dispute that Japan is an incredibly safe place, people tell me that the anecdotal experiences I hear about don't count, but it does seem that there are petty crimes and women in particular get targeted for molestation.

I hope your friend can find a better place soon. That must have been a terribly traumatic experience for her.