The chronic shortage of short-term housing for foreign researchers will dramatically improve in May, when JISTEC opens its new housing complex in Ninomiya. While rental housing has certainly been available on the open market, the Japanese system of requiring reikin (an extra fee to the owner equivalent to one or two months rent), shikikin (a damage deposit which is technically refundable, but rarely so in actuality) and tesuuryou (the agent's fee, which is also equal to one month's rent) means that 4 or 5 month's rent is needed up front before moving in. For long-term renters, this isn't so bad, but for those only staying a few months, the total housing costs become prohibitive. Thus, the need for such special housing arrangements for foreign researchers.
Tsukuba University, K.E.K. and other such institutions have provided their own housing for their foreign professors and researchers for quite some time, but until Takezono House was built in the early 1990s, no such general, short-term housing existed.
Ninomiya House will offer 184 apartments and thus is much larger than Takezono House, with its 36 apartments. Takezono House does, however, include 6 apartments for families with children, whereas Ninomiya House only lists one-person and two-person apartments. Even though it was not designed with children in mind, couples with small children may find the larger apartments adequate for their needs, and Ninomiya House will allow up to two children in those apartments.
In addition to the 104 single occupancy apartments (34 m2) and 80 double occupancy apartments (63 m2), there are a number of common rooms including what is listed in English as saloon. Salon is what is meant, but even that has different connotations in English, as in American English at least, it usually goes together with beauty. Here, however, it simply refers to a lounge. But as there is also a Tea Ceremony Room listed, perhaps this was added to give balance to the saloon. Both of these are located on the 9th floor, offering quite a nice view of the city in all directions.
Other common rooms include a library, an exercise room, a children's play room and various meeting rooms with lots of high-tech equipment. The ground floor includes a large meeting room adjacent to the central courtyard. During nice weather, it can be opened up so that the room is entirely open to the outside, and so it will be very nice for large meetings and events. With 148 parking spaces available, it should be much easier to reserve a spot than it has been at Takezono House with only 14 spaces.
Rent for the apartments is set at 80,000 yen/month for the single occupancy apartments and 100,000 yen/month for the double. Parking spaces can be leased for 5000 yen per month. The cost of utilities (electricity, gas and phone) are the responsibility of the occupant. Occupancy will be limited to foreign researchers working in national and public research institutes in Tsukuba and the term of stay is limited from as little as one week up to 2 years. All apartments are fully furnished, with very nice refrigerators, washing machines, TVs, etc.
The approximately 4 billion yen spent by the Japanese government in building Ninomiya House represents a significant investment in the future of science and technology in Japan. Even at full occupancy all of the time, it would take nearly 20 years for the rental income to just cover the building costs, and so this project is obviously not intended to pay its own way directly. Indirectly, of course, being able to attract more talented foreign researchers to work in Tsukuba will pay dividends in many indirect ways to make the project well worth the investment for the Japanese.
As applications can be received up to 3 months in advance, applications are already being processed. Further information can be obtained from the temporary office in Takezono House at 58-8000. Email takezono[at]iinet.ne.jp and the web page is: http://www.jistec.or.jp/house.
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