At first glance, the three-story house near Tokyo's Nakano Station looks like an ordinary dwelling.
But looks can be deceiving.
On entering the house, one hears not only Japanese, but also languages from around the world.
The “international house” is shared by 17 people. Eight are Japanese. The others are from England, Sweden, Turkey, Russia and South Korea. Common languages are Japanese and English.
Borderless Japan Corp. operates the international house, a place where Japanese and non-Japanese can live under the same roof for cultural and language exchanges.
Borderless Japan tries to keep the number of Japanese and non-Japanese residents about equal.
Shota Meguro, a 21-year-old university senior who has been living in the house since 2010, said his experience there has broadened his mind and helped him with job-hunting. He shares a room with a British man and pays 59,000 yen ($768) a month, including utilities.
The Nakano Ward house has 10 private rooms and three rooms for two. There are two shower rooms in the house and a bathroom and a laundry corner on each floor.
Meguro first lived by himself when he came to Tokyo from Niigata Prefecture to attend college. But he said his friends at the university and others he met through a part-time job were just like him?with similar experiences and points of view. He felt their scope was limited and decided to move into the international house to learn the perspectives of others.
He soon found out that in collective housing, small problems among the residents occasionally arise.
“At times I can’t sleep well because my British roommate is noisy,” Meguro said. “But I try to accept it as just one part of sharing a room.”
The common space of the house is supposed to be cleaned by all residents as need warrants, but at one point last year, Meguro noticed that no one was doing the job. Meguro consulted with Borderless Japan staff members and came up with a solution: He started cleaning and asked others for help. It worked out and the situation improved.
In the beginning, Meguro had trouble understanding spoken English, but it gradually got easier because he was hearing English every day in the international house.
“I overcame a psychological barrier toward English and became less afraid of speaking,” he said. “I rationalized it would be all right if my English is clear enough, if not accurate.”
Getting to know his housemates has been a terrific experience for Meguro.
“I was impressed with the idea of doing what one likes to do, regardless of age,” he said.
Some of the foreign residents came to Japan in their late 20s to pursue dreams of becoming a translator or a researcher.
The Japanese residents also have dreams, such as becoming a cook, a makeup artist and an actress.
Living in an international house helped Meguro’s attitude for finding a job.
“I wanted to find a job in which I can acquire a skill, to become independent,” he said, “instead of just working for a stable company.”
Meguro’s dream came true when he received a job offer from an IT-related venture. Now he hopes to work overseas on assignment.
- « Prev
- Next »