How to find a nice short-term living place in Japan? | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

How to find a nice short-term living place in Japan?

By Guidable Writers Sep 4, 2017

Generally speaking foreigners find it difficult to rent a short-term living place through normal Japanese housing rental service because most commonly you will need at least one Japanese guarantor. On top of that many house owners will ask you for key money, which is generally equal to one to two months’ rent, and also a security deposit of 2 to 3 months rent. These amounts are usually not returned.


However these days some companies specialize in offering nice short-term living places in Japan for foreign customers. I will introduce those companies. They all have at least one English speaking member or staff to help foreign residents.


1. Sakura house

Sakura House is located in central Tokyo and also they have some accommodation in Yokohama and Kyoto. Their information center for foreigners is in Nishi Shinjuku and it opens all year round including New Year’s holiday. Multilingual staff will help you find suitable accommodation for you.


How to book


Through their website before your trip or at their information center in Japan


Accommodation type


The types of accommodation available are share houses (guest houses), apartments and dormitories. They are all furnished so it is hassle free to start your new life from your very first day in Japan.


The facilities


  • Dormitories: Furnished with private beds, shared rooms, kitchens, showers and toilets.
  • Share houses (guest house): Private rooms with beds and desks, shared kitchens, showers and toilets.
  • Apartments: Fully furnished and equipped with basic electric devices
  • Vacation rentals (Kyoto only): Holiday rental, self-catering rental, holiday home, holiday let

Sakura house dormitory room in Shibuya, Tokyo



Pros: No key money, agent fee, or guarantor

The rent payments include all utility costs (such as gas, electricity and water)

Multilingual language assistance (English, French, German, Chinese and Korean)

Events and activities for the residents

Equipped with essential furniture and electric devices

From one night to any length of stay possible


Limited location (Tokyo, Yokohama and Kyoto only)

Privacy can be disturbed

Fewer chances to meet local Japanese people

Fewer chances to speak Japanese

Deposit of 20,000yen (maximum 15,000yen returnable)


2. Oak hotel/house


Oak house offers social houses, share houses, dormitories and apartments. On their website there is all the information you need available in Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean and French. They have an office and information center in Shibuya, Tokyo for customers and potential customers.


How to book

Website, Information center


Accommodation type


  • Social houses: Private rooms with beds and desks, shared kitchens, showers and toilets plus social rooms like yoga rooms, home theater room, conference rooms etc.


  • Dormitories: Furnished with private beds, shared rooms, kitchens, showers and toilets.


  • Share houses (guest house): Private rooms with beds and desks, shared kitchens, showers and toilets.


  • Apartments: Fully furnished and equipped with basic electric devices

Oak house apartment room in Setagaya, Tokyo



The facilities


What is the difference between social houses and share houses?


Social houses are designed so that the people living there can meet and collaborate with each other. The company organizes parties and activities for the residents to have a chance to get to know each other and the residents themselves organize social clubs and lessons to exchange their knowledge inside the community. Whereas share house residents do not have such communal activities. However the residents have a chance to meet other residents in a communal area like the living room or kitchen.


Pros: Several different living style accommodations to choose from.

No key money, agent fee or guarantor

Help in several languages is available from the agent when needed

Less costly compared with renting from normal Japanese estate agents

Short-term rentals are available – from one month

Extra facilities like theater room, gym etc.

The company will recruit new share mates


Cons: Limited location and availability to choose from

Only located in big cities

Privacy could be disturbed with dormitory, share house and social residence

Shared kitchen, bathroom and toilets in share houses, social houses and


Other residents might disturb your lifestyle


3. Airbnb


Airbnb is accommodation booking site where individuals list their spare rooms, apartments or houses to rent out for a short period of time. The renting style varies from just a spare room to an entire house. Usually the accommodation is furnished and equipped with basic utilities and electric appliances.


The location covers from big cities like Tokyo and Osaka to small cities, towns and villages in countryside. Some owners don’t speak English but they are usually helpful and able to provide you the local information and they try to offer some kind of help when it’s necessary. You should check what your choice of accommodation offers to you on the listing page.


You can communicate with the listing owners only through Airbnb site. The hosts and the guests are not able to contact each other apart from the message board.


You can read the listing reviews written by past guests before booking. And the owners are able to read guests’ reviews too. This review function will help you to choose you accommodation by giving you more detail than you can find from the basic listing. Owners can decide whether to accept their candidate guests or not. The listing owner can refuse any potential guest.


How to book

On Airbnb site or mobile app


Accommodation type



Apartment in Sakae area in Nagoya, Aichi



Pros: Located widely in Japan

Hosts are individuals so it can be very flexible about rules and policy.

Often the owner will offer great hospitality

Various types of accommodation to choose from

Airbnb help center will try to solve problems between property owners and tenants

No key money or guarantor

Available from one night stay

Usually all furnished and equipped with electric appliances and amenities

Self check-in style is most common (flexible time check-in)


No 100% guarantee that the actual listing is truly as described on the Airbnb site

Not all Airbnb hosts are helpful

Language could be problem

Hosts are not always available to come to help their guests to the accommodation

when it’s needed.


4. Leopalace

Leopalace has weekly apartments nationwide. English site available.


Accommodation type

Private apartment


Pros: No key money or guarantor needed

Rent from a short period of time (from one week)

The entire apartment is completely private

With basic furniture

Other costs like gas, water and electricity are included in the rent


Cons: Less easy access to the agent for help when needed during your stay.

Communication problems because of language

Could cost more than a house sharing style accommodation

Length of stay needs to be longer than a week


5. Social apartment


This company specializes in social apartments. They have in total 41 social apartments in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Osaka, Kyoto and Hokkaido. Many of their apartments have themes and they mostly have a connection to the local area. Many of these apartments are located in very popular and trendy areas for young professionals and upmarket areas for successful business people. Themed apartments attract younger generations, e.g. a bakery café attached to the apartment, music themed apartment with soundproof music instrument play room, or a soundproof theater room.


Sound proofing music room in Kobe, Hyogo




How to book

On their website, on the phone, visit to the office


Accommodation type


  • Social apartments


Pros:  they have 24/7 call center

Choice of furnished and unfurnished

Private toilet, kitchen, bathroom in some rooms

Professional house cleaner cleans the shared space like kitchen, toilets and

communal area.

Chance to meet new people

Themed apartments such as an artist’s residential apartment

Organized events and parties once or twice a year in each apartment

English website


Cons: Key money and security deposit necessary

Location is limited

Separate utility cost

Management fee

From one month rent

Fellow residents and their friends might disturb your lifestyle

The service is not designed for especially for foreign residents