Foreigners in Japan renting apartments on their own often face discrimination from real estate agents or landlords who refuse to rent to foreigners. Finding a guarantor is also difficult for many foreigners. Some agents will explain to foreigners directly that it is difficult to rent to them.
Living in a Guesthouse is one way to circumvent these problems. There are many guesthouses in Tokyo, but they can also be found in other major cities in the country.
Some are single, independently managed houses, and some are owned by realty companies, which may operate multiple houses across the city.
While deposits are payable in most cases they tend to be low and the famous "Japanese Key Money" is not charged for these properties.
Guesthouses come as shared or private apartments and with Japanese or Western style rooms. Naturally, private apartments are more expensive than rooms in shared apartments, where kitchen and bathrooms are typically shared.
Facilities like washing machines are usually coin-operated, but due to intense competition many landlords are seeking to provide as many free utilities as they can; free internet is almost a given in Tokyo these days.
Depending on the room and company, the monthly rent for a shared apartment in Tokyo is typically between 40,000 and 100,000 yen per person per month, while a private apartment usually costs at least 110,000 yen per month. Usually the cost for utilities is included in the rent.
Guesthouses do not tend to be the newest or most modern buildings, although the apartments are usually equipped with basic kitchen utensils, a futon or bed, and possibly a television.
The listed names below are some of the well-known letting agencies in Japan. Some have listings and classified ads covering the entire country.