To begin one’s life in Japan, accommodation is the first thing to sort out. When I studied in London I lived in the dormitory, and I have not much experience about finding house. As there are many rules for living in Japan, so I did some research before setting off, and decided on the current sharehouse located at Kiyomizu Gojo, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto.
It is very difficult for foreigners to find accommodation in Japan. Therefore Sharehouse, in the form of room share, with short term lease option, exemption from other fees and procedures other than rent, basic household appliances provided, has become the most sensible option for people intending a short stay.
However the key point of Sharehouse is for young people to live a communal life together under one roof. Recently become popular, this new life style is more prominent within bigger cities. The first time I heard about this was in Isao Yukisada’s 2010 film “Parade".
And so I have brought with me hopes and expectations when I checked in.
The house is not far from the main street, but since it is situated within a residential area it is very quiet all around. In fact I seldom see people, nor hear any. This is so different from Hong Kong.
A two-storey wooden house, with kitchen, toilet and bathroom downstairs, divided by a central staircase which leads to three bedrooms and a living room. My room at the back is a Japanese style room with tatami floor matting. As it is built by wood, any slight movement resonates throughout the whole premise, therefore one has to be very careful even inside one’s house, or else one disturbs the other residents, and even neighbours living next door. Basically any activity after 10pm is discouraged. What a neurotic, repressed Japanese life……
I share this house with two Swedish guys, who both attend a Japanese school nearby. At first I thought it will make it easier since we are all foreigners, yet whenever I try to strike a conversation, it always leads to an awkward moment, as if I have interrupted them. They are either out the majority of the day, or stay within their rooms. I cannot recall their going to the bathroom, nor washing their clothes and watching TV — while I in 10 days have already washed my clothes thrice, and tried turning on the TV for once, finding that the channels have not yet been set up, a proof that nobody ever watches it.
In the end, they are just strangers living in the same house. Perhaps they live in a sharehouse just for the cheap rent and convenience. And yet I in this strange land feel more alone than ever.