Sharehouses are common across Tokyo for both foreigners and Japanese alike. They are homes in the city, housing anywhere from three or four to over ten people, with separate bedrooms and shared cooking, living, and bathroom facilities. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Japanese culture and language but don’t want to live with a host family, a sharehouse provides you with an immediate community of like-minded (and similar-aged) university students, workers, and foreign visitors!
All of the Come on Out interns are living in sharehouses (and a few with host families for part of their stay in Japan). I’m ecstatic to have a room in a sharehouse for the six weeks I am here- I have stayed with host families before and absolutely loved the experience, but I also wanted to try living on my own in Japan and cooking my own meals! I think that figuring out Japanese grocery stores is a learning experience about Japanese culture in and of itself. (Post coming later about Japanese grocery stores).
My sharehouse is in Jiyugaoka, a fantastic neighborhood filled with a mixture of boutique stores, custom coffee shops, bakeries, beautiful residential areas, and amazingly stylish residents. In my plain, untailored American clothes, I stuck out like a sore thumb.
My house is located in a much quieter residential section, surrounded on all sides by other homes. It’s only a 30 second walk to a nearby konbini where I plan to get breakfast every morning, and only another minute to my train station, Midorigaoka Station. I live right next to the train tracks, and it’s fascinating to see the gates come down over the tracks whenever a train is passing by, momentarily stopping traffic on the thin roads of my area.
Five minutes west on foot is Okayama, a more bustling area around Tokyo Institute of Technology. Small restaurants and snack stores abound in the thin alleyway of the area.
I stopped at a Kaldi Coffee last night, an upscale coffee and specialty foods store chain common across Tokyo, and got a free cup of iced coffee and a great look into Japanese home coffee culture (so many different types of fancy coffee beans you can have ground for you!). They also carry a lot of foreign products like American chocolates and peanut butter, impossible to find in Japan elsewhere, imported cheeses, as well as many different wines. It’s the kind of store you would stop at before heading to a picnic in one of Tokyo’s many parks! Half an hour on foot (or one train stop) is the bustling center of Jiyugaoka. Either way, I have plenty in my area to explore (and eat)!