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Essential steps for moving in

So you have put down that deposit, paid your upfront rents and are all excited about moving into your new place. Yay! Phew! One of life’s greatest challenges accomplished; you’ve moved to a new country, found a job and settled down.
You thought all the hurdles were now behind you, since you finally have your own place. However, there are some “small things” that Japanese do when moving to a new place that might stumble or annoy new foreigners here.
This short write up attempts to save you the embarrassing moments and awkward situations, and to help foster a good neighbourhood relationship with your neighbours.

1) Moving in
Your removalist should take care of this, but you need to notify the building management’s live-in managers (管理人さん) of your move-in date. This is required so that the building manager is aware of the move and can make sure that a parking space is available for your truck at the time of moving.
And of course, the 養生 (youjou), the practice of wrapping/cushioning the elevator, doors, path way leading from the foot of the building to your door is essential. This again is usually included in your package offered by the removalist (don’t forget to ask as you negotiate with your removalist). This is done to ensure no damages to the communal spaces and objects. Most of us would think this is only for renovation, construction work but it also applies to moving big furniture. Do this or your Kanrinin-san (building manager) would be very upset and can refuse to let you move in on your move-in day.

2) Greetings
Greeting your new neighbours is important! Japanese people normally pay a quick visit (at the door, no meal or chat that would take longer than 5 minutes) to the neighbouring apartments directly above, below, to left and right of your new home. Yes, that’s right, four visits ensued bearing little gifts (some nice towels, soaps worth between 500- 1000 yen) and also one to your Kanrinin-san (usually snacks). This practice is considered 挨拶 (aisatsu), and this is extremely important in Japan to do proper greetings. This would leave a long lasting impression so don’t fail to do this or you’ll be remembered as the foreigner who is just so foreign and has no clue about Japan. It is a way to establish a good rapport and to get to know those who live near you.

3) Garbage
Third but not least, learn about garbage sorting and dumping rules at your new building. Every ward and city has its own variations and it would be better to consult this with your landlord, agent or the Kanrinin-san. Learn to sort your trash properly (burnable, unburnable, recyclable, plastic bottle, paper and cardboard). Japanese take their trash seriously in that they care for the environment, and have consideration towards trash collectors and for general harmony.

Enjoy your new apartment, new life and be part of a great new adventure!
- J.T.H.