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In Japan, if you find your own apartment, you will need to buy most or all of your appliances yourself. This can add up to a lot, even if you get lucky and someone left behind an air conditioner or something. Here is a list of what we have bought, in less than a week of living in the new place:
The first thing we knew we needed is a bed or futon to sleep on. We looked around and had a hard time finding a futon that was the size of a double or queen size bed. We thought getting two “single” size (100cm wide) was a good option because if anyone visited, they could technically use one of them and we could share the other.
The best deal we thought, was a set with a futon mattress, a futon down-filled blanket, and a pillow at a store called Nitori. That was around 6000 yen per set, then the sheet/futon covers were about 1000-2000 yen a piece. We didn’t get pillow cases (around 500 yen for cheap ones) and just use a furoshiki or handkerchief type cloth. It ended up costing about 10,000 yen each after the delivery fee. (It’s hard to carry a big box on the bus or on a bike.)
We live right next to a discount store where we found the best prices for a lot of things. They had small kotatsu (75 square cm.) for about 5000 yen. We picked from their very limited kotatsubuton (top blanket) and kotatsu pad (for under the table) and opted for the rectangular shaped ones so they worked well for sleeping with. It was another 5000 yen plus for those. Still the best prices we’ve seen.
The discount store had a few options and we went with one of those. We did consider getting a used stove from the recycle shop nearby, but the prices were only a little less and we didn’t want to deal with potential breaking down. It was 13000 yen for a two burner propane gas stove with a broiler grill. (Yay! We can grill sanma in fall!)
We ended up going with the recycle shop for this purchase. The discount store had one option and wasn’t a great brand, so we got an older one that was a more reliable brand and for a lot less. The brand is National and it’s a small fridge compared to what you would see in America, but plenty big enough (about four feet tall?). It was 15,000 yen plus 1000 delivery fee.
Essential for my boyfriend who would consist on rice alone (if his mom and I would let him). There are a lot of fancy and way too expensive rice cookers (or suihanki) out there. We found one that makes 3.5 cups (more than we normally use) for about 4000 yen at the discount shop.
We considered using a laundromat nearby, but did the math and it made sense to buy a cheap washing machine even if we planned to stay for only a year. There were some used options, but for around the same price we could buy the cheapest option at the discount shop. The brand is Haier and it also has a dryer function. (Most people in Japan don’t have a dryer – lack of space and waste of energy – so they hang their clothes to dry.) It was around 20,000 yen plus around 1000 for delivery and 1000 for installation, then we needed a little part to attach it to the drain, which was around 600 yen.
Our apartment didn’t come with any ceiling lamps in the three main rooms. We had entrance, hall, bathroom, and kitchen area lights, but that’s it. Most of the lamps we saw were kind of boring and ugly, plus expensive. The coolest ones were at the recycle shop and have a vintage or industrial feel. We bought two the first day for 7000 yen, then later found a used one from IKEA for about 1500yen.
We have been using our kotatsu (sitting on the floor with bad posture) for everything, but we wanted to get desks or some type of work surface, and probably a table to eat at. Kotatsu is okay to eat at, but a real table is maybe more comfortable. There was a nice sized bamboo table with four chars at a recycle shop for around 6000 yen we bought, plus 2000 yen for delivery. We use it for a shared desk for now. I think it’s possible to use a chair at the oshiire (closet) shelf as a desk, but it would be really dark and there are no outlets inside. I’m halfway looking for my own desk/art space and the recycle shops sometimes have cute vanity desks that could work.
We have all the essentials for now, and after starting work I finally got a bicycle. I could walk to work but it’s a little far, it will cost a lot to use public transportation and still need to walk a lot, so a bike is the best option. I bought a cheap new bike for around 10,000 yen.
To give you an idea of initial cost, the 3 appliances were a total of around 50,000, without an air conditioner and all from a discount shop or used. I would say that is a minimum. Bedding was around 10,000 per person and a rice cooker would normally be a minimum of 5000, although you can also cook rice on the stove or not eat rice, depending on your preference. There are lots of other things you might need depending on how cold or hot your apartment is and your tolerance. Be sure to factor in all the little things like setting up a kitchen and hangers, towels, etc. It’s possible to find things used, but not always easy to find them when you need them or to get them home. Start checking prices near your house and work towards the bigger station shopping centers/malls as the little boring supermarket/department stores are usually decent quality at a way better price than chain stores.