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Can't Believe That Someone Found Bargain Flat in Tokyo

April 05, 1987

I read with considerable interest the Reuters story, "Finessing Japan's High Living Costs," in The Times on March 27.

I don't particularly believe it, though.

It cites a Canadian teacher of English in Tokyo who pays $326 a month for a "sunny, quiet two-room apartment."

Unless she got one heck of a bargain, the flat is without a doubt a glorified phone booth, a space so small as to be claustrophobic for many Westerners.

And she probably has a better deal than most Westerners.

It's well known that people who go to teach English are offered a bargain in housing.

The better employers will pay the extremely stiff key money ( reikin ), handling fee ( tesuryo ) and the large refundable deposit ( shikikin ), plus the first month's rent in advance.

In the Canadian teacher's case, this would have cost somebody at least $2,300 or so, up front.

And you must have an additional $500 or $600 ready if you want a phone in your little apartment.

We all know that one can come to Los Angeles, live in a fancy hotel and spend money like it's going out of style.

Or one can rent a furnished single apartment and save money. Tokyo is not that much different.

But it does cost. There are few bargains in any "mega-city" these days.


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