Send Your Friends to “Live in Asia”

by Leigh Wellsview

I recently got a phone call from a friend back home in Canada letting me know that she’d decided to finally fulfill a lifelong dream by traveling more and was planning to stop by Tokyo on her way on to Thailand. Of course, I was thrilled to hear that Linda would finally be able to see where I’ve been living and playing for this last year, and we quickly made plans to do all of the ‘musts’—the Imperial Palace, Harajuku, Ueno Park, Odaiba, Disney Sea, a night in Roppongi, some serious shopping—it will be a busy five days! It wasn’t until we’d giddily hung up the phone that I started wondering just where I was going to put Linda when she arrived. Choosing to live centrally—in Ebisu—is perfect for me alone, but my tiny six-mat apartment it bulging at the seams without the added luggage of a girl on her way around the world, not to mention its owner! Plus, as much as I love spending time with Linda, I questioned how long it would take for us to get on each other’s nerves if we were not only seeing the sights together, but also living on top of each other.

Initially, I thought the solution would be to send her to a nearby hotel, but a quick ‘google’ turned up overly expensive room rates and rooms as cramped as mine. Plus, being in a hotel means eating all of your meals at restaurants, and despite the deals to be had with specials and lunch sets, eating out all day, every day, quickly adds up. Knowing that Linda, like me, would rather spend her money on kawaii Japanese souvenirs, I kept looking and soon found the perfect solution—a rental apartment owned and managed by Live in Asia. Their Japanese arm, Japan Vacation Rentals, offers one and two bedroom apartments in Nakano and Nishi-Ogikubo. Both are close enough to the Yamanote line ‘loop’ to ensure that she can get anywhere we want to go quickly, but with the added bonus of being just far enough away from the truly expat areas of Tokyo. This allow ‘traveler, not tourist’ Linda the chance to live more like a local.

Even though everything in their apartments is compact—this is Tokyo after all—Live in Asia has clearly thought long and hard about the décor and furniture choices. As I looked through the many images on their website, I began to fantasize about moving out of my beloved flat in Ebisu and into one of their bright, modernly decorated spaces myself! Lots of white opens up the spaces, while punches of fun, bright colors like a bold, geometrically patterned rug nestled under the chrome and glass coffee table lend the one bedroom apartment in Nishi Ogikubo a decidedly modern flair. The two-bedroom apartment in Nakano is similarly white and bright and sleeping six, is exactly where I’ll be sending any of my friends who happen to traipse through Tokyo in a group or with a child in tow!

I was also impressed with the attention to detail that Live in Asia provided—apartments come fully furnished, of course, but also include details such as shampoo, conditioner, linens, kitchen supplies, and every jet-lagged travelers oft-forgotten best friend— an alarm clock.

The truly remarkable thing is just how affordable staying in one of these apartments is! The one bedroom apartments start in the ¥10,000 range, or just ¥64,000 for a week—that’s up to three people for six nights! Unusually for this type of do-it-yourself accommodation, there’s a short minimum stay—just two nights, although the company does charge a reasonable ¥7,000 cleaning fee for each week or part week that you stay.

In addition to several great photos of each property, detailed listings of what you can expect to find, and clear pricing on the clear and well-written website, there are also plenty of comments from satisfied guests. The comment from Nathan of New Zealand, “Just want to say that this place is excellent, not just for the value but also for its location and quality of the apartment” is typical of the over two-dozen positive reviews (versus just one not-quite-glowing review) left by travelers from all over the world.

For those like me, who like to know every detail before they set out, Live in Asia documents their simple check-in and check-out procedure on the website in enough detail to assuage the fears of even the most nervous of travelers. Helpfully for anyone traveling into town on their own or for those of us who can’t make it out to meet our guests at Narita and are letting them experience that journey on their own, Japan Vacation rentals has put, in clear detail, directions to both Nakano and Nishi Ogikubo, and has designed a system of phone calls at key check points (Narita, Shinjuku) to ensure that the moment you step off the train a representative will be ready and waiting to take you straight to the apartment and give you your keys.Having heard stories of the last time a friend came to
visit (I couldn’t find her at the airport for nearly an hour and it didn’t get any smoother after that—suffice it to say we barely made it home in one piece), Linda is loving the idea of being calmly welcomed by an agent, having a chance to freshen up, and then meeting me in her ‘new neighborhood’ for dinner.

Not knowing the Nakano area very well, I’m glad that the English-speaking staff will give Linda information on the neighborhood, including on where to grocery shop, how to get around on transit, how the internet (free wi-fi is included) works, and will also solve any other problems that they can during the course of her stay.

All in all I’m thrilled that Linda and I can sightsee in Tokyo together, but that she’ll be able to experience living in Tokyo on her own as well, especially with such a friendly and helpful company. To learn more, visit their comprehensive website, which has lots of great information in English, at