My wife and I are looking to buy a condo, and we found a couple of really nice-looking ones in Yashio, a station about 20 minutes from Akihabara on the Tsukuba Express train line. One of the ones we found, a place called Comfill Yashio, was surprisingly cheap, and when we asked the salesperson why the price was so low, the only thing she could come up with was, “Actually, our company made a mistake. We set the price much too low for such a nice building.” My wife started interrogating her, and when she asked about why it had double-pane glass (quite rare in Japan), it came out that there is a highway right beside it, and maybe that was the reason. (She also told us the apartment we were interested in was facing away from the highway when it was actually facing right toward it!) We also found out later that it was zoned commercial rather than residential, so anyone could build a factory practically next door if they felt like it. However, another big reason for the low price may be this building right here.
According to the signs outside it, this is an Aleph (formerly Aum Shinrikyo, the doomsday cult that carried out sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway in 1995) dojo (training center). They say things like “Aum, get out of your den fast! Get out! Get out!” or “This is one of Aum’s dens.”
I have to say that apartment hunting in Japan is quite an experience. At another place we looked at we noticed that the furniture in the model room seemed really small. It turns out that a lot of places put smaller furniture in the rooms to make them look bigger.
At another place we went to, they proudly showed off the entrance area with its wide sidewalks and parking area, without telling us that it’s scheduled to be removed when the road gets widened in a few years. Apparently, they tell you this on the day you sign the contract.
Another thing that makes it really fun is that there is a huge preschool shortage, and we’ve had to eliminate a lot of good-looking rooms because the waiting lists at all the area preschools were too long.
Anyway, the search continues.