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 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

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.


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: