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Kyoshokuin Jutaku

Welcome

As your day of departure draws near you are beginning to wonder exactly where you will be living once you arrive in Fukuoka. Many Prefectural ALTs (JHS and SHS ALTs, not Municipal ALTs, Kitakyushu City ALTs, or CIRs) live in kyoshokuin jutakus (教職員住宅). Although the title may seem like a mouthful it simply translates as Teachers’ Apartments.

The good news is that the apartments are cheap and spacious. The rent for the apartments varies, but is generally around 14,000 yen per month (private apartments usually cost 5 or 6 times this amount, plus extra fees such as a non-refundable deposit called “key-money”). The apartments are intended to be family housing, and thus is large enough for a family to live in comfortably. Each apartment comes with three rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom.

One Point of Advice! The best way to keep your futon clean is to hang it over the balcony rail and beat it. You’ll be amazed by the amount of dust that flies off.

Although many of the  buildings were built when the Japanese economy was booming, the economic decline of the past 16 years has meant that  there hasn’t been much money to spend on new apartments. There is one new Teachers’ Apartment in Fukuoka, but the rest show their age. Although they may not be penthouse apartments, most everyone finds them livable with their own peculiar quirkiness and character. With a little effort most JETs manage to make a comfortable home that becomes the source of many unique memories.             

Of course you don’t have to live in a Teachers’ Apartment if you don’t want to. Please choose where you want to live wisely.

One Point Advice! Introduce yourself to your immediate neighbors, preferably with a small gift.

Living room and Bedrooms

One Point Advice! A plug-in mosquito killer is far more effective and more comfortable than the old fashioned burning coils.

The two main things that differ between a Japanese apartment and a western apartment are the floors and the doors. The floors are covered in tatami mats which are made from reeds. The doors are fusuma doors which are made from paper. Tatami mats can be damaged very easily so it’s a good idea to follow the Japanese style and take off your shoes as you enter your apartment (it can be very expensive to replace tatami mats). Fusuma doors are made from paper and while they are not as expensive to replace (or repair) as tatami, it’s probably a good idea to take good care of them, since it would be your responsibility to pay.

 Kitchen

The kitchen might not be exactly what you are used to. Your kitchen will consist of a stove, sink and refrigerator. You’ll want to keep the hood over the stove and the electric fan free from grease to avoid any fire hazards when using the gas stove. A net or trap over the kitchen sink drain should stop your drain from becoming blocked.

Toilet

Some apartments are fitted with a western style toilet but many are fitted with the traditional, squatting Japanese toilet. If you can’t stand to use the traditional style (or if your leg muscles aren’t strong enough), you can always buy an attachment that will convert the toilet into western style.  The drains aren’t very big so only toilet paper should be flushed.

Bathroom

The baths in the apartments are old Japanese style baths (deep and narrow, not shallow and long). Depending on what you have, you may have to fill the bath first and then heat the water in the bath. Some, but not all, come with a shower attachment so you might have to get used to bathing Japanese style. Whether or not you choose to wash yourself first before you get in the bath, as the Japanese do, is up to you. After all, it’s your apartment and your bath. Keep the window open and the drain clear to discourage mould and insects.

One Point Advice! If you use an oil stove in the winter be sure to put a kettle on top to put some moisture back into the air.

Garbage

Trash is separated into two categories in Japan, burnable and non-burnable. The days on which each type of garbage is collected and the specifics of what actually constitutes ‘burnable’ garbage vary from area to area, so please check with your neighbors after you arrive.

Pets

Pets are not permitted, since they might disturb your neighbors. You might be able to get away with a goldfish or two though.

Social Responsibility

The majority of JETs are coming to Japan straight out of university.  Living in a jutaku may remind you of your university days.  While there may be 5 JETs living in your building please bear in mind that could be twice as many Japanese people living there too (many with families). Also, remember that your individual actions will reflect upon the whole JET community. Please keep the noise levels down after 10 o’clock at night and be courteous to your neighbors. It’s unlikely that your Japanese neighbors will ever disturb you, so please do your best not to disturb them.

Money

Your financial responsibilities will include rent (which may be deducted directly from your salary, or you may have to make a payment at the school office), utilities (gas, water, and electricity), and telephone. You may also be expected to pay a monthly ‘neighborhood association’ fee collected at most jutakus.  This is done by placing money in an envelope provided by the jutaku leader and returning the envelope by the specified time.

Keys

If you lose your key you’ll have to pay to have a new lock fitted. Keep a spare with a friend or neighbor.

Name Card

It’s common practice in Japan to have your name on the door or mailbox. Whether you put your name on there or not is up to you, but it will help to ensure that your mail gets to you.

Weeding

Certain jutakus have weeding sessions every few months. This is a great way to get to know your Japanese neighbors.

Fire Prevention

In addition to keeping the kitchen free of grease you might want to keep a fire extinguisher at hand in case of emergencies. Also take care when using your gas appliances.