Apartment hunting in Japan can be a challenge, especially if you are not a Japanese national. In Japan, it is very important to be a respectful neighbor, so knowing basic Japanese terms and basic etiquette such as limiting loud noises and throwing away garbage on the correct day will go a long way. Not only is respectfulness important as a neighbor, but your language ability from the beginning of the apartment search will help you make a good impression on your future landlord.

There are various words you should know for your apartment search, whether you’re doing a search online or using a real estate agent.

Beginning the Search

Here are some basic terms you should know at the beginning of your apartment search.

When talking to a real estate agent, this basic sentence will let them know you are looking for a place to live. Over the phone or in an email, begin with: 賃貸物件を探しています “I am looking for a place to rent.”

Then you can move into specifics of what kind of apartment you are looking for.

Types of Apartments in Japan

There are three basic types of apartments or condominiums in Japan.

  • アパート is an older style of apartment building, built using wood or light gauge steel, usually consisting of one or two floors
  • マンション is a taller apartment building built with heavier materials and have three or more floors. (For more about the difference between an アパートand マンション, check out this article.)
  • テラスハウスor タウンハウス are one or two-story townhouse-style apartments. This option is nice if you want the feel of a house, but don’t want the extra upkeep responsibilities that come with renting a house.

Basic Apartment Search Terms to Know

Here are some basic terms to know for your apartment search.

  • 借りる to rent
    On the top of apartment search sites such as Suumo, Chintai or Home’s, click on the text that says 借りるto aid you in finding a rental home.
  • 入居日 move-in date
    Most apartment ads will list when the move-in date is, and be sure to find a place that fits with your anticipated moving date.
  • 家賃 or 賃料 monthly rental fee
    How much are you willing to pay per month? Remember that you will have extra moving costs, furniture purchases, and upfront fees to pay as well. Make sure to budget in about two to three months’ rent just for the extra initial fees.
  • 築年月 year and month built
    How new of a building do you want? Newer buildings have more up-front fees, but may have more features, such as security systems or smart device-connected air conditioners.
  • 最寄駅(もより駅)the closest train station
    If you commute for work, think about preferred distance from the train station.
  • 間取り the layout of the apartment: pick from ワンルーム, 1LDK, 2DK, 2LDK, etc.
    An average room size is 6条(6 mats) and take note that there are 和室 tatami-rooms and 洋室 western-style rooms.
  • 所在階 floor the apartment is on
    First floors are known for more moisture, and thus more mold, and remember, heat rises! Consider various factors when choosing what floor to live on.
  • 階数 number of floors in the building
    An apartment ad may indicate how many floors are in the building, which will help you know what the surrounding sound may be.

When you search, you should be able to search based on specifics such as 家賃 of under ¥100,000 for a 間取り1LDK with a 築年月of under 10 years old. Let your real estate agent know exactly what you’re looking for, so they can help find the best place for you.

Signing the Contract

Before you sign your apartment contract, you will have to make sure that you are okay with the fees you will be paying. Make sure to ask questions if you don’t understand what a certain fee is. Ask: この料金は何ですか?

Below are the Japanese terminology for some of the basic financial fees. Many apartments waive some of these fees, but ask questions about which fees you will have to pay before moving in.

  • Financial Fee Terminology
    家賃月々 monthly rent
    共益費or 管理費 monthly management fee (for the upkeep of your building, garbage management, etc.)
    敷金 security deposit
    礼金 key money
    清掃費用 cleaning fee
    保証金 guarantor fee
    保証人 guarantor (person to guarantee you will pay rent every month)
    保証会社 guarantor company (company to guarantee you will pay rent every month)

Happy apartment hunting!