Saturday, April 21, 2007

Renting in Tokyo

My wife and I are looking for an apartment in Tokyo. It's a bit difficult because we're doing so from across the country, in Tottori prefecture. Tokyo is a fairly "racially pure" city, having a foreign population of just under 3%. So perhaps I shouldn't be pissed off with the nervousness of some of the landlords with renting to a foreigner.

The first place we called told us, once they found out that a foreigner was involved, that they would have to see us in person, and would give us their decision as to whether we were accepted after 5 days. Unfortunately, this was not possible for us, as we were not going to make 2 trips to Tokyo, nor would we go to Tokyo earlier and stay in a hotel for 5 days. I can't say whether this is a standard request or not, but I suspect not, as it came after the revelation that a non-Japanese was attempting to live there.

The second place we called was a little less concerned with my race, until the very end, when my wife was asked whether I was white or black, and from which country I hailed.

I suppose this is not out of the ordinary. Coming from a country where many cultures are the norm (at least in cities one one-hundredth the size of Tokyo), I can't even imagine a situation where questions like these would be possible. I would have hoped though, that the qualms these landlords have about foreigners would be evenly spread over each race, and not favouring white guys like me. Just because I lack some pigment in my skin doesn't mean I'm a good person. I'm an atheist for goodness sake!

Anyhow, I'm being told I should take a bath now, so I will.

I hope in my next post to tell you that I've got an apartment. I've got my white fingers crossed.

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