Co-living spaces also known as ‘share houses‘ in Japan are accommodations that fuse private and common facilities. Typically, every individual will have their private room, while areas such as the living room or working spaces are shared. It is similar to a guest house, just that it`s for long term guests. Co-living is popular all around the world as it provides residents with a community they can thrive in.

Another reason for its popularity might be the affordable prices and vast networking it allows one to do. Often targeting the younger audiences, co-living spaces are the new upcoming trend! However, in Japan, things were different as it took time for the popularity to grow.

Photo from Unsplash by Priscilla Du Preez

Why Share Houses failed to meet the mainstream audience

When first introduced in the 2000s, share houses had a rough start with many of them failing to obtain tenants. Why is that? Cheap accommodation is tough to come by in Japan, so wouldn`t you think co-living is a great choice?

This was a result of the nature of Japanese People. As they tend to keep their lives private, most would rather not have an outsider inside their private space. Moreover, their high uncertainty-avoidance levels make things even worst. With most Japanese having a high uncertainty-avoidance level, they tend to not choose a scenario where they cannot foresee the outcome like living with a stranger.

These are some of the reasons co-living had difficulties making an impact in Japan. So, what exactly happened to make share houses accepted by the majority?

Photo by Unsplash from Room

The unexpected popularity from a co-living reality TV Show

The popularity of co-living came abruptly and from an unexpected place. The first wave to provide attention to co-living was the reality TV show called Terrace House.

Debut in Oct of 2012, Terrace House has a premise of strangers living under one roof with cameras documenting their daily lives. Wait, isn`t that like any other reality TV show? The uniqueness of this show is not from its premise, but how it unfolds. Unlike, other similar genre shows, Terrace House is unscripted which makes it the most realistic reality TV show there is.

Viewers enjoy the natural slow pacing of the show, allowing them to sometimes place themselves in the shoes of the actors. After multiple widely successful seasons in Japan, the producers signed a contract with Netflix spreading it to an international audience.

This broke the many negative perceptions of share houses in Japan with more and more taking their first step into it, looking for an experience like that of the TV Show.

Celebrities living in Share Houses

Another huge influence that made co-living popular in Japan are celebrities that started living in co-living spaces. A famous well-know example is the band members of SEKAI NO OWARI who live together in a share house also know as the SEKAOWA house.

The band that produced hits such as RPG and RAIN, has lived together in this sharehouse for the majority of their career and has produced countless hits in its basement which is also a recording studio. The SEKAOWA house is symbolic for fans as it shows the comradery and close relationship the band members share.

Other celebrities such as comedy actor Yoshimi Tokui (Who also appears in Terrace House) & Kazuhiro Ozawa have opened up on the fact that they are living together. With famous figures showing their love towards co-loving, the general acceptance towards these types of accommodation also accelerated.

The growth of co-living in Japan Today.

In Japan, co-living spaces can be found in major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka. Looking at the numbers provided by Hitsuji Fudonsan (A Online Portal that focuses on Share Houses), the growth of share house numbers in Tokyo has quadrupled in 6 years. From 5,000 to 20,000 rooms the growth of share houses doesn`t look like it is stopping anytime soon.

Following this growth, Japan also picked up a new method to attract new tenants. By designating a theme for every property, homeowners are aiming to attract tenants that have a common interest. For example, Pet Share Houses are accommodations that are specifically for pet owners and the accommodation is specifically designed to cater to their pets. Often, this accommodation provides large spaces for pets to run around and special equipment for showering animals.

Another share house caters specifically towards gamers by providing gaming consoles and a large TV. As only gamers live in the house, a natural community will be built with them being able to communicate around a mutual topic.

Themed co-living spaces aim to allow tenants to feel more at home as they know that their other flatmates have the same interest or goals, allowing them to connect with them at a more personal level.

MetroResidences ShareHouse

Last but not least, I would like to share the first co-living space managed by MetroResidence Japan! The Nakameguro/Yutenji Frontera is a social apartment located 9-mins away from Yutenji Station (Tokyu Toyoko Line). Opening its doors at the beginning of September 2019, this social apartment has everything you need to live a more than better life in Japan.

The location of Yutenji allows quick access to major areas such as Shibuya, Ikebukuro and Yoyogi Park. With Yutenji offering cultural experiences in the forms of shrines and traditional shopping streets making it a great place to start your Gaijin Life! Inside the accommodation, you will also find a dishwasher (Hard to find in Japan) to a rooftop Jacuzzi which you are guaranteed to have a blast with your new flatmates!

So, what do you think about the co-living scene in Japan and would you like to live in a share house in Tokyo? Comment and let us know! For more information about share houses, real estate and monthly mansions in Tokyo follow us at Expat Japan Life!