Living in an Incredibly Small Japanese Shared House

The skinny ugly teal apartment building was mine.

The skinny ugly teal apartment building was mine.

This summer I’m living in Tokyo, Japan for a 3 month research collaboration with the University of Tokyo JSK Robotics group, continuing my research on humanoid robots that I started with them in February.

Because I’m still a PhD student, I only get paid a small stipend, even though I live in Tokyo. To make living Tokyo affordable, I scoured the internet for a cheap room that was within walking distance of the University. After many comparisons I chose Tiger House Ueno-Okachimachi without ever touring the place, because it was only a 20 minute walk to work, cost $490 a month, they were ok with just 3 months, and it had no deposit/initialization fees. Unfortunately, it was the most depressing, smallest, worse place I’ve ever lived.

Sad Dave in small room

Sad Dave in small room

Thin mattress pad

The room was so small I could lay in bed and touch the front and back of the room with my legs and arms at the same time, and I couldn’t even stretch my arms full length without touching the sides of the room. The bed had no mattress, just a thin comforter thing you slept on.

One floor of the terrible guest house in Tokyo

One floor of the terrible guest house in Tokyo

The room from the hallway

The walls were super thin and, even though everyone in the building tried to be quiet and respectful, simply by walking and opening doors I was awoken a lot at night. I had to install a phone app that played smoothing sleeping noises to help me sleep. The community was like living in a hotel – no one talked to each other and there was no real communal space. Except the hotel rooms were the size of a closet.

The place smelled so horrible. The bathroom was pretty disgusting. Particularly insulting was that I had to walk 3 stories up stairs to take a shower or use the kitchen, and the shower cost $1 to use. The kitchen was basically useless, and always disgusting. Despite having lived in Mexico at a camp ground, and Thailand in a bungalow, and camped many places, this was the worse place I ever lived!

**Luckily**

Motoazabu Hills

I met a friend towards the end of my first month in Tokyo who was sympathetic to my plight and who had a super nice apartment with two empty bedrooms. I moved in and it was completely the opposite of the slum I had been living in – some of the richest people in Tokyo live there! It is unbelievably nice, and its crazy the contrast in places I moved from:

Super nice living room

Super nice living room

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