Finding a Homestay in Kyoto

the demonic cuties that I live with in Japan: Mikke-chan and Sakura-chan

With the UCEAP program to study abroad at Doshisha, I was given only foreign student dormitories to choose from for housing. They are extremely cheap, but considering that I am only here for 5-6 months, I wanted something more immersive. Also, I really dig the Washitsu aesthetic. None of the rooms from the dorms were tatami mat. The last two things to push me into having to find my own housing was: I wanted to be able to have overnight guests (I have friends who are visiting me), and I missed the deadline for applying for housing. Hehe.

I found a variety of options and sites to be quite useful:

Option 1: Sharehouses in Kyoto

Sharehouses can be large or small. You usually get a private room and share common areas, not unlike a dorm. I narrowed my searches to places that shared with Japanese people. I found many sharehouses that I was interested in. Here are links to the sites I searched:

Option 2: Shared Apartment Listings

To be honest, I had been chaotically clicking links and surfing the web the old fashioned way, via links due to my lack of Japanese ability. Fortunately, I stumbled on this site called roommate.jp and made a post. Which resulted in a single response that I accepted.

EDIT: I just checked and people messaged me on the site even though I asked them to email me. So technically I had many responses, but only one in the format that I was looking out for. Oh well…

You can see my post here. Again, I repeat that I know zero Japanese so I stumbled around like a drunken idiot, not knowing whether or not I had posted my advertisement properly. Along with a nice description of myself, I was able to designate a location and a budget, both of which were fulfilled by the offer I got. Here’s what I posted:

I will be studying at Doshisha University from March 2017 to August 2017 and I am looking for a room nearby.
About me:
My name is Caryn Tran. I am 21 year old Asian girl, born and raised in California, USA. I speak mostly English, but my family is Vietnamese and I also speak Vietnamese very well. I love traditional Japanese culture and would love to stay in a Japanese style room. I speak little to no Japanese, but I will be learning throughout my time in Japan. I would love to be friends with my roommates even if they speak no English (I can teach some English). I study Computer Science at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, California. Looking for:
– A private room.
– Hopefully, Japanese house mates (can be friends and exchange culture)
– Near Doshisha University and/or Downtown Kyoto
– Furnished room (with bedding preferably!)Please email me in english at:
caryn.tran at berkeley.edu

I received a nice message along with an offer that was unofficial in the sense that I signed no papers, sent no money at all. It was slightly nerve-wracking not being sure if this were a legitimate means of securing housing, but I ended up taking up the offer. I knew that if it didn’t work out, I could apply to one of the sharehouse options pretty last minute, quite easily. Luckily, everything checked out when I got to Japan. Right now, I live in an apartment 10 mins walking distance from campus with two Japanese girls and two cute, but demonic, kittens.

IMG_0170

My six tatami mat room!

My roommates furnished the room completely, including lending me a futon–I know people don’t usually share futon, but I’m cheap. I pay 40000 yen a month, which includes utilities, wifi, and food. They also got me a bike!!! All in all, I would say this is a good deal.

Option 3: Airbnb or Homestay

Probably the priciest option. Funny thing is that I found many of the same long-term Airbnb listings elsewhere for less. Try these websites for finding a homestay in Japan/Kyoto: