Renting an apartment in Japan

It is not difficult to know how to rent an apartment in Japan as long as you are psychologically prepared to do so. Depending on the landlord and where you choose to live, the way you’re treated doesn’t depend on whether you are a foreign national or a Japanese citizen.


If you are looking for an apartment to rent in the countryside or if you are dealing with older and more traditional landlords, you may find yourself held to different sets of expectations. This is particularly the case if the apartment you’re interested in belongs to a landlord or has nearby tenants who have had bad experiences with foreign renters in the past.


What to consider when renting an apartment in Japan

In this article, I particularly focus on the things you should be aware of when considering renting an apartment in Japan as a foreigner. Here are the things you need to be aware of:


The terms for rental properties vary from those in your country

The first thing you need to be aware of as a foreigner considering renting an apartment in Japan is that the terms for renting property are different from those in your country of origin.


If you’re used to terms like "two-bedroom apartment" or "studio," don’t be surprised when you don’t find them in the apartment rental ecosystem in Japan. Instead, you will be encountering a number in front of a combination of the letters: L, D, K, R, or S, in reference to the living room, dining room, kitchen, storage or free space room, and a whole apartment that is just a single room or what is typically known as "studio" in other areas, respectively.


The number that you’ll see in front of these letters refers to the number of bedrooms, while the letters represent the living and cooking areas. For example, if you see a property listed as 1LDK, it implies that it has one bedroom and a larger area that comprises a kitchen, dining room, and living room. It also means that although the kitchen, dining, and living rooms may stand as their own separate rooms depending on the layout of the home, there will not be any doors separating these spaces. 1K would imply a space with a single private bedroom but no living area.

Common types of apartments in Japan

Besides understanding the terms used in the rental property ecosystem in Japan, you’ll also need to be aware of the existing types of rental apartments. Here are some that I obtained from a Nozawa Onsen Guide that a friend shared with me:


1LDK implies a property with one bedroom and a combined living, dining, and kitchen.1K, refers to a property with one bedroom plus a separate kitchen.1KD implies a property with one bedroom plus a combined kitchen and dining area.1SLDK refers to a property with one bedroom plus a combined living, dining, kitchen, and separate storage room.1R means a property with just one bedroom, but could have a small kitchenette.Ap?to refers to a two-storey apartment building made of wood and iron. A property of this type tends to have units that are small and loft in style.Mansion refers to a concrete apartment complex with three or more floors.Houserefers to a standalone home. These units are mostly found in the suburbs, the countryside, and smaller cities and lean more towards traditional Japanese-style housing with tatami floors.


Furnished or unfurnished

If you are looking for a long-term rental apartment, chances are that it will come unfurnished. This means that you’ll need to furnish the new home, which will require you to find out from online sites and other accessible store the cost of furnishing the apartment.


Stigmatized property

If you’re moving to Japan and are worried about the cost of rent, one slightly cheaper option is called jiko bukken, or stigmatized property. This is property where an unfortunate incident such as death, suicide, or other serious incidents occurred. As is the case in most Asian cultures, such properties tend to be notoriously hard to rent. If you choose to rent such, you can expect to negotiate a lower rent.



Keep in mind that basic utilities such as electricity, gas, and water are typically not included in Japanese rent. So you’ll need to look into the recommended utility companies for the area where you’re renting your apartment.


Where to purchase your groceries and other household needs

When renting an apartment in Japan, remember the property’s accessibility to places that you will easily access for your food and other items.


Most renters consider accessibility to family restaurants in Japan as their guide in making apartment rental decisions. A Nozawa Onsen Food Guide that a friend shared with me also affirmed this fact, which indicates that it is a key consideration for many apartment renters.


Accessibility to recreational facilities

When renting an apartment in Japan, you also need to consider the activities that you love to engage in. For example, if you love skiing and snowboarding, you may need to get an apartment that will provide you with easy access to these activities. A friend of mine told me that his love for skiing made him give priority to the apartments that would enable him to conveniently attend the Nozawa Onsen ski lessons!


Need help with choosing an apartment to rent in Japan?

There are so many things you need to consider when choosing to rent an apartment in Japan. I learned some of this from the helpful staffers of the Schneider Hotel Nozawa Onsen is significantly associated with. If you need more of this information or other help with renting an apartment in Japan, feel free to connect today.