Surprise! I’m homeless. (Not really. But I do have to move)

Surprise! I’m homeless. (Not really. But I do have to move)

Written by sonicsuns

Topics: Blog, Everything, Tips

Today we’re going to learn a lesson in flexibility, preparedness, and monkeying around with the rules.
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/Early this afternoon, I got a phone call from “The Plaza”, which is the main office at my dorm campus thing. They informed me that some guy from Australia will be taking my room on October 1st, and they’d like me to move out by September 25th.
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/Well that’s a fun conversation. Especially considering my flight back to America doesn’t leave till December 14th.
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/Let’s get some background:
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/I went to Carthage College in America and entered an exchange program with Tokyo Gakugei University for the spring semester. Apparently I’m the only guy to have done this for my final semester, thus I graduated while still abroad, thus causing some of the confusion. (Because everyone else has to go home by September or so in order to attend the fall semester at their home school). During this time, I’ve been living at the Hitotsubashi International Village (aka “my dorm campus thing”), which is not directly managed by Gakugei.
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/As the spring semester ended, I started wondering how much longer I could stay. I really like it here, and I know that once I leave it’ll be really hard to come back. So I decided that I wanted to stay in Japan a few months longer, and come home just before Christmas. But would I be able to do that?
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/Both Carthage and Gakugei told me that I was expected to return to America by the end of September. But when I pressed them, they had to admit that this was an “expectation” and not an actual “rule”, so technically I could do what I wanted.
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/For most exchange students, the big limiting factor is the standard six-month visa. They’ve got just enough time for one semester and then a little bit of sightseeing.
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/But here’s the thing: for whatever reason, I wasn’t granted a typical six-month visa when I started this process. I was granted a one-year visa, lasting until April 2011.
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I really have no idea how I did that. I imagine there was some fortunate accident with the paperwork.


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For good measure, here's the landing permit they gave me when I arrived in Japan.


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/This left me wondering how much longer I could live in Japan. I mean, it says I’m good until next April, but then again it’s a student visa, and I just graduated. I don’t have any classes for fall semester (though honestly I did consider signing up at some community college, just to smooth over the visa question). To live here on a student visa, would I need to keep being a student? How much studying was required? I tried looking this up on official sources, but with no success. I asked my friends, and they didn’t know either. Finally, I got this advice from some guy on the internet:
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Your visa is valid until April 2011, and only a court order from the Minister for Whoever-does-visas (Justice?) can change that.
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/Same with Spouse Visas – you can get a 5 year visa on Monday and get divorced on Tuesday – your visa is valid irregardless of your situation.
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/Visa conditions only matter at the time of application or renewal, as long as you do not break the restrictions of the visa (ie. working, types of employment, being self-sufficient etc) then its OK.

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/Assuming he’s right (and I really hope he is), I’m set for living in Japan awhile longer, as least as far as the law is concerned. But that doesn’t resolve the question of where, exactly, I’ll be living.
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/See, the Hitotsubashi International Village is intended for students who are actually studying at a Japanese university. The people at Gakugei told me I’d have to leave Hitotsubashi by September 25th. But when I want to the Hitotsubashi office and asked for a copy of my residency agreement, the agreement said I’d have until September 25th…of next year!
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In black and white (Note: the Japanese style for writing dates is year-month-day)


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/Just like with the visa, I had been extremely lucky. I was set to live in the dorms for my entire stay in Japan.
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/Or so I thought. (dun dun DUUUUN!)
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/So…yeah. It turns out that Gakugei owns the rights to my room. And since they say I’m leaving on September 25th 2010, that’s when I’m leaving. (I still don’t know if the plaza misprinted the agreement, or if the 2011-9-25 date just refers to something other than my departure date) I probably should’ve asked the plaza more specifically about all this in the first place. See, I asked for a copy of my agreement, but I didn’t explicitly say “Can I stay here beyond September, even though Gakugei told me no?”. The reason I didn’t say that was because I didn’t want to tip my hand about my lack-of-having-a-fall-semester. Which was…kindof deceptive of me. Sortof a lie of omission. Anyways, if I had asked them explicitly, I probably would’ve learned all of this a lot earlier, and a lot less dramatically.
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/After I got the call this afternoon, I went down to the plaza office to discuss things in person. They confirmed that, yes, I have to leave by the 25th. They were sympathetic, actually. They told me they wished they could help, and they’d like to let me stay, but there’s simply no vacancy anywhere on campus and someone’s already scheduled to take my spot.
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/Kudos to them for being nice, but the question remains: where am I going to live till December?
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/I had actually done a little research already, in case this all blew up on me (which, obviously, it did). It’s hard to get a short-term apartment in Japan. The lease tends to be a year long, and in any case you need a sponser-type person called a “guarantor” who will vouch for you. The guarantor typically needs to be a Japanese citizen.
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/But fortunately, there are alternatives. Thanks to the couchsurfing wiki, I discovered Sakura House, a company that offers “guest house” accomodations. They really cater to foreigners, too. Everything’s available in English (and like 6 other languages), the rent is monthly and you don’t need a guarantor. The flipside is that it’s expensive, like at least $600 per month when you covert from yen. (My rent at Hitotsubashi dorms? Like $130 per month. It’s awesome.) And they’ve got like 28 rooms available right now in my area of Tokyo.
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/I mentioned Sakura House to the people at the plaza, but they suggested a nearby dormitory-style place called Ryokun, which charges around $300/month. I called them and found out they speak English. They told me to send an email, so I did. Hopefully I’ll hear from them soon.
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/Like, real soon.
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/Update: They got back to me in 24 hours. They say there’s a room available about 30 minutes from my old place.

  • Azurebreeze

    Dear Jimmy, /
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    /OMG!! I am surprised you can make heads or tails of all this with all the conflicting and grey information over this matter. I hope that you find the resources that you need./
    /Dave my friend from my New Beginnings church mentioned the New Hope church in Tokyo that I had talked to you before. Perhaps they might have information and connections helpful for you. /
    //
    /New Hope Tokyo Office/
    /Information: #308?Tazawa Building 2F/
    /Sinjyuku-ku wasedatsurumaki cho/
    /Tokyo Japan/
    /TEL:03-3209-2170/
    /Email: http://newhope.jp/en/about-newhope-tokyo-en/contact-us-en/
    /Website: http://newhope.jp/index.php/
    //
    /I talked with Dave tonight and he said he is going to talk to his sister in the next few days whose Japanese blog I showed you and who had lived in Japan for a couple of years. He said he will let me know if his sister has any suggestions for you. /
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    /I pray you are able to secure safe and affordable housing in a timely fashion. /
    //
    /Warm regards, /
    /Buffy

  • Azurebreeze

    Dear Jimmy/
    //
    /What about Youth Hostels?/
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    /Youth hostels are among the most inexpensive types of accommodation in Japan. One night typically costs between 2500 and 3500 yen per person and usually 1000 yen more for non-members. Memberships can be purchased at the hostel./
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    /There are over 300 youth hostels spread out across Japan. They do not differ much from European or American youth hostels, except that breakfasts and bathrooms may be in the Japanese style. /
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    //
    /http://www.jyh.or.jp/english/index.html/
    /http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2030.html/
    //
    /Warm regards, /
    /Buffy/
    /

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