UR Housing – a fair deal to rent apartment in Japan

Even for Japanese people, it’s not easy to rent a suitable apartment in Japan. But it’s much harder for foreigners. “10 things you need to rent an apartment in Japan” is a good reference. Finding a Japanese guarantor is one of the most difficult requirements. And, some landlords reject to contract with foreigners by abusing the principle of “Freedom of Contract.” (The civil law doesn’t allow it. So you can sue. But, you wouldn’t like to live in the apartment owned by such bad landlords.)

Recently I began to feel UR Housing can be one of the best choices for foreigners and also Japanese.

UR stands for Urban Renaissance Agency. It used to be a public housing organization which lent cheap houses to people. UR is still a kind of public corporations. Their role is to renovate old apartments, build modern ones and supply them to people with the appropriate rules.

Unlike the old days, it’s thought UR is more expensive than private housing. But you cannot compare the rental fees just because the environment of UR apartments is better than others. The public housing had to have low building coverage and a certain number of parks. The law defined it. In some Japanese private house, you might be facing at a wall of the next building when you open the window, but it will never happen with UR apartments. Also, your children can find their playground on the apartment grounds.

UR follows the Japanese law and ignores Japanese business customs. Japanese private housing usually requires you to have a Japanese joint guarantor and pay commission, rewards and renewal fees. Or they reject foreigners for no reason at all. But UR doesn’t require the above costs or any joint guarantors. Plus, it’s open to foreigners. A permanent, mid, or long-term resident can rent UR apartments.

Some UR apartments are in the suburbs. But usually, a small supermarket, a barber, and other shops are located in the apartments grounds or nearby. And, such apartments have a bus stop. So you aren’t troubled for anything.

And one more thing, some real estate agents won’t introduce UR to you because UR doesn’t require a commission.


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Carp captured first Central League pennant in 25 years

On last Saturday, my favorite baseball team defeated the Yomiuri Giants, which was the second place team, and captured first Central League pennant in 25 years.

It was dramatic because the starting pitcher was Hiroki Kuroda, who was a previous ace pitcher in the Carp and came back from MLB to get the championship flag. He had kept his dream to win the League pennant as a team member of the Carp. His dream finally came true! After the game, he was tossed into the air by teammates.

And then, his teammate, Takahiro Arai was also tossed into the air. He is another player who came back to the Carp.

Hiroki Kuroda

Hiroki Kuroda was an ace pitcher and only one pitcher expected winning in the team before he moved into MLB. There is a long story between him and the Carp fans.

In 2006, it was said that he was going to declare FA (free agent) and leave the Carp. Every Carp fans were shocked to hear the rumor because they were hurt by the FA system for a long time.

The Carp doesn’t have money power, and the Japanese baseball haven’t introduced fair rules like a luxury tax, so the Carp is not competitive in FA market. Before Hiroki Kuroda, the Carp had lost many great players. The players, who declared FA, moved to another team and became an opponent. It was really sad for the fans.

But, at that time, Carp fans could not contain themselves. They made a giant flag persuade him and put up in his final game.


He was impressed and stopped declaring FA in that season. And he started planning to move to MLB, not another Japanese baseball team.

At the end of 2007, he moved to MLB and became one of most successful pitcher in MLB. But, the Carp fans had been expecting that he came back to the Carp in the future. And finally, he turned down a lucrative contract ($16-17 millions) with the Yankees and returned to the Carp last year. He was 40 years old, but he recorded one of his finer seasons in the last season.

He has been leading young pitchers and kept in the stating rotation. I think it was destiny that his turn was at the championship match.

Takahiro Arai

Takahiro Arai is another player who came back to the Carp. He was the fourth batter (In Japanese baseball, the best batter is fourth batter dislike MLB.) He had been trying to improve the Carp with Hiroki Kuroda. But, on the other hand, he could not give up his dream “win the championship.” For his dream, he declared FA and moved to Hanshin Tigers. At that time, the Tigers had obtained three best batters from Hiroshima Toyo Carp, so the Carp was called a firm team of the Tigers.

(As I wrote, the Carp doesn’t have money power. So the basic strategy of the Carp is to hire unknown young players, train them and put them in games for their experiences. It means the Carp spent a lot of “time” cost instead of money. So FA is a big problem for the Carp.)

He also turned down a higher contract with the Tigers and came back to the Carp. In this season, he recorded one of his finer seasons in this season, total 2,000 hits and total 300 HR in his carrier.

At the night when the Carp defeated the Giants, Hiroki Kuroda and Takahiro Arai hugged and cried. The Carp fans cried. Of course, I cried.


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Hiroshima Carp is going to win the Central League Championship

My favorite baseball team, Hiroshima Toyo Carp, has been kept the top in Central League and is going to win Championship. I’m so happy but can not believe it. Is this real? Or dream?

About Hiroshima Toyo Carp

Hiroshima Carp was established as a symbol of hope for atomic bomb surviver in 1949. The first owner of the team was Hiroshima citizen, so the team is called “citizen baseball team.” In the early period, the team did not have money so it managed to survive by a donation from the citizens. The team was the weakest team in Central League.

And then, Mazda, which is a local automaker, owned the team temporary and improved it. And then, Mazda made the team independent. (Because the name of Mazda was Toyo industory at that time, the proper name of the Carp became Hiroshima ‘Toyo’ Carp and the Carp keeps it to show thanks.) By that, the Carp had been one of the strongest teams in Central League for 16 years and won Championship many times.

However, changing rules and regulations in the Cental League worked against to poor baseball team, Carp. It said that introducing FA (Free Agent) system gave a critical impact to the Carp. Anyway, the Carp has not been won Championship for 25 years.

This season

When this season started, I thought Carp lost the power and became weaker than last season because Kenta Maeda, who had been an ace pitcher for a long time, moved to MLB before this season. However, it’s not true. Some veteran players did ‘Comeback.’ Young players did ‘Awakens.’ Hiring foreign players to reinforce the team was succeeded. It looks that all players are playing with confidence. Carp became completely different team than before.

The Carp is running away with the pennant race and also the best offense team in the Central League.

As you see, the Carp is at the top of all kinds of batting stats; total score (得点), total home runs (本塁打), total stolen base (盗塁) and run average (打率). Also, the Carp is the best deffense team in the Central League; the fewest of total losing score (失点) and the best ERA (防御率). Plus, the Carp has gotten a come-from-behind win over 40 games in this season. In a word, the Carp is really strong.


I regretted that I haven’t watched baseball nor cheered the Carp in this season, but I needed to spare time for learning English. But I am going to watch the remaining games as much as possible.

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Japan Life: How to exterminate cockroaches

You can find many kinds of insecticides in a drug store, but I think a bug bomb must work for cockroaches. Because I have exterminated all cockroaches in my room. Also, a bug bomb achieves results in one day. Plus, it can kill other kinds of noxious insects.

Today I will write about a Japanese bug bomb.


The most famous product of bug bombs in Japan is Vursan (バルサン). Vursan is a longevity product. The launch date is 1954! It said that Vursan was named after Varcasan that was a popular organochlorine insecticide in the U.S. at that time.

There are other brands of bug bombs in Japan, but Vursan is stand out. Sometimes, Japanese people use “Vursan” as verb; “I will vursan this weekend.” or “I have vursaned two times.” Even if I use another brand, I can say “I will vursan…”

How to get Vursan?

You can buy Vursan in drug stores or convenient stores. You might find many kinds of Vursan because Vursan is now a brand name and has a wide variety of products.

You can buy any types because each Vursan is designed to exterminate cockroaches. But I recommend that you should check two keywords; “Water type” and “Fire alarm cover.”

“Water type” means pouring water activates Vursan. Find a Chinese character “水(water)” on a package like this. Water type has an average spec. It’s not too strong nor too weak. Too strong insecticides threatens your health, but too weak one cannot exterminate cockroaches. So I recommend water type.

“Fire alarm cover” is necessary because a bug bomb triggers a fire alarm which is located on a ceiling. Certain kinds of Vursan come with a fire alarm cover. Find this Japanese sentence “火災警報器カバー入り.” If a fire alarm is activated, it’s difficult to stop the alert.

How to use Vursan?

Make locked room by closing all windows and doors to fulfill the room with poisonous smokes of Vursan. Open cupboard, closet and drawer because cockroaches tend to hide inside of them.

Next, you should carry out things, which you or your family will touch later, from the room. The things are toys, dishes, PCs, phones, foods, and chairs. Or you have to cover them with a large garbage bag.

And then, find a fire alarm on a ceiling in your room and put the cover:

Even if you don’t use Vursan in a room having the alarm, you should put it just in case. After putting the cover, pour water into Vursan by following the manual and go outside for two hours.

When you go back at home, ventilate by opening doors and opening window. When you ventilate enough, remove the cover from the fire alarm.

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​ Kindle Unlimited was launched in Japan

Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited in Japan on August 3rd. In the U.S, this same service began in July 2014. We, Japanese had been waiting for a year.

Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service. I pay 980 yen (about $10) per a month to get e-books unlimited times from specific lined-up titles. The service in Japan offers over 240 magazines, 120 thousand Japanese titles and 1.2 million English titles.

I don’t know how the U.S. people feel about Kindle Unlimited, but I found the article “Kindle Unlimited Isn’t Worth Your Money.” It describes that Kindle Unlimited offers a poor selection of books and doesn’t save customers’ money.

However, I think the Japanese version is a good deal for Japanese game developers till now because offering some popular magazines (e.g. CG World and MdN) which a lot of game developers buy every month. Both CG World and MdN are more expensive than the subscription price! I make sure that I can save money with the subscription until Kindle Unlimited stops offering the magazines.

I feel that the Japanese version could be valuable even if it doesn’t provide both CG World and MdN. Because the Japanese version offers other fascinating categories of books; comics, English education, and technology books.

Comics (manga) might be the most valuable content in the Japanese version. Amazon Unlimited doesn’t offer new books published recently, but it doesn’t no matter for comics because a value of comics doesn’t depend on newness, unlike technology books. I can get a lot of classic masterpieces drawn by famous cartoonists.

English education books in Kindle Unlimited are convenient for me. It said that Amazon Unlimited doesn’t offer popular and bestseller books, but I can find some popular books written about English test.

Few technology books are there in Amazon Unlimited, but not popular. However, I found it’s very useful for beginning new things. For example, I can’t get the books writing about Haskell programming language deeply on Amazon Unlimited but can get introductory books written for newcomers.

Lastly, Kindle Unlimited in Japan offers a lot of porn comics and porn novels. I make sure that the service is a good deal.

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Japan Life: The riding rate of a commuting train

At the end of July, Yuriko Koike won the Tokyo gubernatorial election by a wide margin. She is the first woman governor in Tokyo. Before the election, she set her goals in her speech; “no crowded trains” and “no overtime work.”

I think it’s impossible to reach the goals. But, the goals are not bad vision. If the new governor gets rid of a half amount of crowded trains and overtime work, it will be a historical milestone because the crowded trains in Tokyo give a huge impact to the quality of Tokyo life.

Do you know how horrible the crowded trains in Tokyo are? You can find some videos on YouTube by searching with the keywords; “crowded train Japan.”

Here is interesting PDF reported by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). By the PDF, the average of the riding rate in Tokyo in rush hour is 165%. It’s average, not the maximum percentage. Different lines have different riding rates. The maximum is over 200%.

But, what do over 100% means? MILT classified the riding rate as the following;

  • 100%: Everybody can have a seat, hold a strap or hold a pole.
  • 150%: Everybody can open a newspaper to read.
  • 180%: Everybody can read a newspaper but cannot open it.
  • 200%: Everybody has a contact of other people, but they can manage to read their weekly magazine.
  • 250%: Everybody cannot move their limbs.

I don’t know why this report sticks with reading something. But, the figure illustrated why Japanese game market moved on mobile. Even if the riding rate is 180%, we can tap on the screen of our smartphone to play a game.

And, this is why Japanese work-life balance is not good. Also, the commuting time is not short because expensive rent in Tokyo let people far from the central of Tokyo. In the fact, when I worked in Tokyo, I lived in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture because rent was one-third from Tokyo’s rent. (But the commuting time was three hours in round trip.)

I can say that people working in Tokyo ride on a crowded train, which the riding rate is about 165%, in a long hour and then work overtime. The work-life balance is, of course, not good.

How to avoid the crowded train?

If you have a plan to work in Tokyo, I have three advises to reduce stresses from the crowded train.

At first, find a job which your work starts at 10 am or 11 am. The rush hour in Tokyo is from 7 am to 8 am because a lot of company starts working at 9 am. Even if your work starts at 11 am, it may be difficult to take a seat on the commuting train, but you can keep your personal space.

At second, to shorten your commuting time, live near your office. This advice is not to avoid the crowded train, but to reduce stress from the commuting time. (While you have to pay a lot of money for your micro apartment.)

At third, avoid the crowded line. It’s not easy to find non-crowded lines, but you can find “worst 10 lines” quickly.

Note: By the PDF, the riding rate 165% is the lowest rate in 40 years. The graph in the PDF shows that the average in the 1970s was 200%. It descended slightly and remains steady.

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Interview in Japan: Show your adaptability

This entry is so crazy, but I’m writing this for foreign people who want to get a job in Japan.

As you know, different countries have different cultures. Japanese companies have different cultures from foreign companies. The difference is based on Japanese culture and the law of Japan. Sometimes it does not make sense (for also Japanese) and is not productive. We, Japanese, need to change everything. However, changing is going slowly and never guaranteed. If you want to get a job in Japan now, you’d better know the difference.


Keep in mind that almost all Japanese companies are based on collectivism (集団主義) and can not adopt to individualism (個人主義) well.

Here’s a fictional example.

George came to Japan from the U.S. with his dream of becoming an independent developer, but he needed a job to live in Japan. He hired as a game programmer and then he got a chance to achieve his true dream or found a job paying better than his current job. However, his company has been very busy recently because the company is facing a deadline. What should he do?

For his happiness, he should quit his job right now and move on the chance. He has a right to do that. The law of Japan supports his right. This situation is what a lot of Japanese companies are afraid when they hire foreign people.

His company unexpected he does that. There are two reasons. At first, many Japanese companies don’t have a system to frequency turnover. The basic hiring system of Japan has been a persistent employment (lifetime worker) for a long time, so their system promises that “an employee don’t quit my company easily and quickly,” even if George is a contract worker. Next, the Japanese companies rely on the loyalty of the employees. It means collectivism.

In other words, the Japanese companies had been insuring to hire people as a persistent employee and relying on the loyalty of their employees. Their system and rules have been optimized to these two elements.

Some Japanese companies hired foreign people, but some people leave the companies easily. Nowadays, such companies tend to avoid hiring foreign people. I think the companies understand it’s old-fashioned. On other hands, it’s the fact that their system and culture can not adapt individualism practically.

What should you do?

I know some foreign people are individualism, but others are not. If you are a collectivist or came from a country known as collectivism, you should appeal it in an interview. If you are an individualist or came from a country known as collectivism, you should emphasize your understanding and adaptability.

It’s a fight against prejudice. In the case of George who came from the U.S, he should emphasize adaptability with collectivism. But, somehow?

  • He should say that his wish is to work in Japan for a long-term.
  • He should share his true dream in an interview.
  • He should swear that you never leave the company quickly even if he gets a chance for his true dream.

Once he shared his dream or career plan with the company and swore to adapt to Japanese custom, the company may be on his side. And the company is not afraid to hire George.

Note: How to resign?

In general, a contract between an employer and an employee in Japan includes the agreement about retirement. (e.g. “The employee has to submit a request for retirement at least a month before retirement day.”) In the fact, the agreement is illegal. You can resign your job at one day. However, I repeat, you shouldn’t do that.

Share you career plan, update it periodically and consult your boss. In my case, I had been sharing my dream, which is to work abroad, with my previous company. All my colleagues and my boss had been recognizing that I will go abroad someday. When I got a job in a branch of a Western developer, I said it to my boss five months before retirement day because I needed five months to finish all of my projects in the company. It was a typically amicable resignation in Japan.

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