Ibaraki / Mito






Will living in Japan be more expensive?

Usually. However this depends on where you are comparing Japan's cost of living. If you live near or in a big city, or in a place like California, the US, you probably won't be too surprised by Japan's prices.
For example, an ALT moved from California, Los Angeles, to a rural town in Tochigi, and found that she was paying about half of what she was paying in LA for the same sized apartment. In most situations, though, Japan will probably be at least a little more expensive.
Some foods like fruits can be quite a bit more expensive because they have to be imported, but items indigenous to Japan are usually much more affordable. Japanese grocery stores also emphasize quality over quantity, which often explains the higher prices. Gasoline is more expensive than in, say, America, but chances are you won't need or want to drive much due to Japan's excellent public transportation system.
Overall, if you're trying to maximize your savings, you'll want to do some research while here, because what was inexpensive in your country might be expensive in Japan, and vice versa.

Some examples of expensive/inexpensive items in Japan:

Apples, Oranges, Peaches
Road Tolls
Cheese (especially cheddar)

Costs similar to western countries:
Fast food
Noodles, Pasta
Premade Lunches, Breakfast items, etc.

(Really good) Ramen and Soba
Daikon Radishes
Shiitake Mushrooms
High quality rice
Short train rides

Umm... can I afford to do this?

Generally speaking also yes. Japanese companies pay once a month. This is not a problem except in your first 6 weeks (or so) in Japan. It can seem a very long time to that first paycheck. This is why we stock our company apartments with enough basic “goods and chattels” to help until that 1st paycheck (see HOUSING for more info). The Japanese government recommends 4000 US dollars to help cover the expenses of moving and setting up in your new life in Japan

So, if you can make that first paycheck, things should be fine. Our salaries are sufficient for any single person to live on, and save up some money OR to go out spending on some weekends, but not always both. It will be difficult to rely only on our smaller contracts, to save money and enjoy life. IF you have dependants, debts, or other economic commitments, you may want to re-examine the feasibility of international travel and living. Our ALTs are allowed to supplement their income with side work, but finding such work cannot be guaranteed.

Does Heart pay for airplane tickets?

The language industry has learned the hard way not to invest too much money up front in people who can change their minds and leave the country with few repercussions. Some of them arrive Japan but instead of directly going to their employers, they look for other jobs. Also, there are those who don’t contact their employers after receiving their plane tickets. Because of this, like most language companies, we do not pay for tickets.

Will I be picked up at the airport? Who pays for transportation from the airport to Mito?

Since we are about 2 hours from Narita airport, new ALTs who arrive here in Japan take a bus from the airport to Mito. It takes about 2 hours and costs 3,500 yen. The bus goes directly from the airport to the Mito train station, so there has never been a situation where a new ALT got lost on the way to Mito.
You will be responsible for your own transportation costs to Mito where the training will be held.

Do I need to speak Japanese to live in Japan?

Yes. But fluency is not demanded. We ask that a minimum skill of basic conversation be obtained. If you have only a little Japanese knowledge, like some useful vocabulary, it is expected that you continue to study while in Japan. Although we provide some basic Japanese practice before you arrive and during orientation, it is in Heart's and your best interest that you continue making an effort to learn the native language of the country you decide to work and live in. Not only will it make living and working at your school easier and more enjoyable, but it will help reinforce the relationships we have worked so hard to build with the schools and boards of education. Being in Japan offers a great opportunity to learn Japanese quickly, and in most cases (though not all), the teachers you work with would be happy to help you learn. Don't expect private lessons, but asking them how to say a certain phrase or asking about vocabulary would certainly be welcomed and goes a long way. We do provide assistance, advice, and support with many of the basic and fundamental things needed to live here. But just as you won’t want to work for us in your free time at home, the company will not want to baby-sit you 24/7.

I highly recommend finding a good cultural guidebook (not a tourist guidebook) and some Language books/CDs/programs in your home country before you come over. Read the cultural guidebook before you commit yourself (mine was “Japan as It Is”, but I am sure there are better ones). Unless you are gifted in languages, it is unlikely you will develop a working use of Japanese out-side of Japan (there just aren’t enough real life practice opportunities), but working through the 1st 10 chapters of most Japanese textbooks before arriving will give you much less of an “adventure”.

What is the best way to pay for things in Japan?

In Japan, cash is king. Major credit cards are functional, but not always accepted. My wife, a Japanese native, had trouble paying for a hotel room by credit card over the phone back in 2000, and many smaller purchase retailers do not have credit card machines. Non-Japanese debit cards will not work. ATM cards, if they are backed by a large enough monetary agency (NYSE) will work in the post office ATM machines, though it is really not advisable to expect functional ATM usage. Even major Travelers Checks, such as American Express, will only be usable at the head-branch of a bank, or branch offices that specialize in international financial activities.

So, cash is the most common and least difficult method of payment in Japan. Most banks abroad can order Japanese cash for you before you leave.

How much are the taxes in Japan?

There is usually a city tax that varies from town to town, and your National Medical Insurance tax, which is around 5,000 yen per month for your 1st year of employment in Japan.

Personal income tax is based on a scale. the numbers may change slightly, and I am not including all of the possible salaries we offer, so please keep these in mind as approximations. These figures are for a single person with no dependants, they are the monthly deductions our company is supposed to take from the monthly paycheck.

177,000 per month = 4,000yen tax per month
230,000 per month = 5,840yen tax per month

Ibaraki / Mito

What/Where is Ibaraki?

Ibaraki is a prefecture or “ken”(one of about 50 in Japan). In American terms, it is a little larger then a county. Ibaraki is part of the Kanto region. The Kanto region includes the prefecture and the city of Tokyo. Within the Tokyo prefecture, there is a city named Ibaraki. Be careful not to confuse the two. We are not in Tokyo. Ibaraki prefecture is a prefecture. It is the northern most prefecture of the Kanto region, bordering the mountains north of the Kanto region. Chiba is a prefecture between Ibaraki and Tokyo. Chiba is the location of Narita airport.

So we are in the country, but an easy traveling distance to both Tokyo and Narita airport.

What is interesting about Ibaraki?

Ibaraki is a coastal prefecture. It is the home of the Hitachi Corporation. It is also the location of the Tsukuba Science city (a “new” city, funded by the National government to attract international researchers and scientist to work in a community in Japan). Between Hitachi and Tsukuba, there is a (proportionally) good-sized international community independent of the English teaching community. This, combined with Ibaraki’s closeness to Tokyo prefecture, creates both a good amount of demand for English and English lessons, and many local area businesses that are eager and willing to work with people whose native language is not Japanese.

Southern Ibaraki is mainly farming communities. Northern Ibaraki is foothills, rivers, and some (mostly ghost town) mining communities. The north was developed as an outdoor recreational area for Tokyo professionals, so it has many golf, fishing, and camping, areas.

What/Where is Mito?

Mito is the capital city of Ibaraki prefecture. It is also easily the largest city in the prefecture at around 270,000 people. It is located almost in the center of the prefecture. Our main offices are in Mito, though all of our client towns are made up of the villages, towns, cities, and prefectures outside the Mito city area.

What is interesting about Mito?

Mito was home to one of the more important Shogun lines. As a result of this it has a relatively (for such a small city) large number of temples/shrines/monuments/parks and historical/cultural museums. One of the Shoguns also designed and had built Kairakuen Park, one of the three most important/largest parks in Japan.

For more info on Mito, see Mito City Website.


What do I need to qualify for work at Heart?

From the perspective of certification, a BA or BS degree, and the ability to receive an employment valid Visa is required.

However, more importantly to your having a satisfactory experience, and our long-term reputation as a company, you should possess a desire to teach, an open, enthusiastic, and friendly personality, and a genuine ability to be interested in your students/customers regardless of their age, communication ability level, or social experience. Some of them are coming to you to improve these last two, and if you don’t find the process itself exciting you will crush their enthusiasm and interest.

This is particularly important as an ALT. ALTs must be able to care about their students. They must also be prepared to spend every day as both a role-model for children and a cultural ambassador at their local public schools. The job itself is not very demanding nor does it require unusual skill, but still, over the years many people - JET, Direct Hire, and ALT Company alike - manage to fail at it simply by a lack of care for their students and a lack of concern for their role in the public education of the next generation of Japanese.

For some more details, click Qualifications

Do I need teaching experience?

It is not required, though it does improve one's chances of an employment offer. To help us determine your potential as a teacher, we conduct interviews in person for people in Japan, and over the phone or Skype for overseas applicants, but our hiring priority is for people we have met in person or those who can otherwise demonstrate teaching potential or practical experience. The international language industry is staffed primarily with young people gaining experience before settling down (often just after college), so extensive experience is not expected at most companies. We provide training, advice, lesson plans, occasional observation/critiques, and a resource library to help new teachers find and develop their teaching methodology.

Do I need to be a native speaker to teach a language?

Sometimes. This can be a requirement for some of our clients, but we do have staff from many different countries and languages. English is not the only language we teach, though it is the primary. Those who are not native speakers, must display greater qualifications for teaching English then a native speaker, and/or have met with us for personal interviews. A non-native will be scrutinized more before being employed, but once employed they are judged by their ability and their customer's satisfaction just as any other teacher is. We would rather have a non-native teacher who can inspire enthusiastic learning (and spending), than a native speaker who dulls the enthusiasm of our clients.

Do I need to speak Japanese to work in Japan?

Our entire office staff is (at least) Bi-lingual. And it is Heart School philosophy that the student is served best by full immersion lessons where the language studied is the only language used (except English Test lessons, such as TOEIC/TOEFL). That said, as an ALT, not everyone you will work with in public schools will speak English, and in order to maintain good relationships with all of our clients, as well as to make living in Japan easier for you, we ask that you have at least a basic conversation level.

What type of work is there?

We conduct classes, group and private, adult and children here at our main office. We also send teachers to corporations to teach their staff- business English, conversational English, English tests (TOEIC, TOEFL, STEP), and specialized communication lessons (such as presentations). We also place teachers with client towns to work in the public school systems as ALTs; this is the largest part of our employment, so I will cover it in detail further below.

We have 3 basic types of employment for teachers.

A) Full Time. This is a teacher who works a full time position and is considered to be fully part of the company. They teach the full range of our offered services, and when not teaching they are often tasked with company responsibilities such as lesson/program development and research.
B) Part Time. These are teachers who are only responsible for their actual lessons. They are used in our Heart School lessons and in corporate lessons. They are given a higher per/hour pay then our other teachers, but work significantly fewer hours and are expected to prepare for their lessons and complete their lesson records in their free time. We cannot sponsor the Visa of a Part-Time employee.

C) Semi-Full Time. This category is reserved for ALTs. It is based on the ALTs 6-8 hour work day, 5 days a week, balanced by the large number of holidays and days off throughout the calendar year (160-215 days of work).

What is an ALT?

Assistant Language Teacher. These are teachers working in the public school systems. There are 3 basic types of ALTs.

A) Junior High School. In a Junior High School, the ALT works under the direction of a JTE, or Japanese (native) Teacher of English. The JTE is not a Heart Employee, but a public school employee. The JTE oversees the design and implementation of the lessons, and is the primary teacher in the classroom.

B) Elementary School. An Elementary School ALT is usually the only English teacher in the classroom, though they are often working with a HRT or Home Room Teacher. The HRT might be very eager to help teach the lessons, the HRT might not speak any English, and many times the HRT is both. The HRT is responsible for the class (students) and is the primary teacher for the students all day long, the ALT is responsible for the English lesson. Some towns/schools have a teacher who designs lesson programs for the entire town/school, but many towns/schools feel they are not able to do so, so the Heart School provides them and our teachers with lesson programs. This means, we will tell you what subjects/goals to cover over a given month (as a minimum) and provide you with ideas for how to do so, but the actual lesson will be designed/selected by you.

C) High School. This is the least common position Like elementary school, ALTs may take charge, but within the guidelines of an assigned text book.

What is the difference between working as an ALT and a Private School?

Unlike work in a private language school, where your experience of Japan is limited to your free hours, energy, and money, ALT work puts you in the middle of a cultural experience and asks you to participate. ALTs work in the public schools of Japan, so you will observe, and even participate in the ceremonies, games, images, and symbols that affect and shape the young generation of Japan.

If you truly feel a calling to teach, ALT work is a far more rewarding environment than working in a Private Language School, which is a service industry where your student is your client and you always remain in a customer/sales relationship. The other side is that the Private Language Schools (with their customer/sales mentality) are able to offer a better salary then the publicly funded Public Schools.

What is it like to teach in a Japanese School system?

It is difficult to give a 1 paragraph summary of a years experience, as there are many highs and lows throughout a year, and many cultural obstacles and rewards. If you are by nature a teacher- thoughtful, inquisitive, patient, externally aware and concerned, motivated to communicate, and enjoy challenges, new experiences, and the process of development- it can be all that you hope it will be. If you are just looking for a job, it can be a disappointing waste of your time; no advancement prospects; foreign labor relations and cultural/social attitudes, etc.

What is the general size of a class?

There are 30 - 40 students in a class.

What is a typical working day like at school for an ALT teacher? How many classes do I teach a day?

It usually 4-5 periods (45-50 minute lesson/period) with 10-20 minutes breaks in between lesson. ALT then joins the students to eat lunch or clean the classroom together. It depends on the school. Working hours are basically 8:30 to 16:30, but sometimes you might have 2 classes a day or on another day you might have 6 classes a day.

Also are employees compensated for extra duties (camping trips, writing birthday cards, etc.), or are these activities grouped under office hours?

These activities are grouped under office hours.

How much is the school lunch?

It is around 300 yen a day.

I was asked to prepare for indoor shoes. What are indoor shoes?

You might have heard about the Japanese custom of taking off shoes when you enter a house. Even schools, students and teachers take off their shoes and change into other shoes to avoid getting the floor dirty from the mud. You can prepare for another outdoor shoes as indoor shoes. Sneaker or tennis shoes are fine.

What is the dress code?

For men this is easy, dress shirt, pants (no jeans), and tie. Colors for the shirt are fine and good. I would also buy a pair of “indoor shoes” in your home country if you have large feet. These are shoes that will only be worn inside at the school (I am assuming you will bring outside shoes as well), most Japanese teachers use tennis/walking shoes that are easy to take on and off, though the older ones wear comfortable dress shoes.

For women this is much more difficult, as I am not much of a dresser or shopper and most women dress better than I. In general, try to match the men’s business casual style, nothing too eccentric or revealing. Remember you will be a role-model for these young children in a society that has conservative leanings. Most Japanese women wear layered clothes neck to toe, even in the summer. You won’t be expected to match this, though please bear in mind you are being tasked with the mental and moral development of the next generation of Japanese citizens. Also, you will need to have clothes that are more flexible for participation with school activities, such as planting, cleaning, and playing tag with kids at recess.

How many suits do I need to bring?

You could possibly be working in both elementary schools and junior high schools, but even in junior high schools most ALTs do not wear a suit every day. If you are comfortable in dress shirt and tie, you can prepare more of those and just have one or two suits. If you find that you need more suits, they are fairly reasonable in Japan.

Does Heart provide insurance?

Public schools subscribe to its mandatory Accident Compensation Insurance, which will cover all employees for accidents at work. However, for full-time protetion, all employees must join the National Health Insurance Scheme.The Japanese Government provides insurance, for around (initially), 5,000 yen a month. It fluctuates after that according to your previous year's salary. (That’s right, for around $50-$250, (U.S.) the government can provide universal health care coverage. This insurance includes most of your dental. Your health insurance covers 70% of your medical cost. If your cost (including prescriptions) goes above 100,000 yen in a given year, the amount that it is over 100,000 can be deducted when you file your taxes, so keep the receipts (I assume this deduction is against your years salary, which is the base for calculating your taxes, and not your actual taxes). The cost of medical treatment is also lower in Japan, thanks to a lack of Medical/Insurance/pharmaceutical industry lobbyist and the effectiveness of a large single client (the Japanese government) negotiating in bulk. For example, I went to a private doctor, spent about 20 minutes with him, he ran some tests, and I paid 2,400 yen out of pocket the rest was picked up by National Insurance, I then went to the pharmacy where I continued to get 70% off. Just chatting with a Doctor for 15 minutes has cost me as low as 400 yen ($4).

Why don’t you know yet where I will be going?

Placement is one of the most frustrating elements of the ALT industry for everyone involved. Our clients (especially new clients) usually do not officially inform us of the winner of the contract bidding process (with other companies) until about a month before the start date. This is not enough time for anyone involved, and sometimes they give us even less time.

So we begin the Visa process prematurely, to take the time burden off of the legal requirements. We begin offering positions as soon as they are available to candidates that have already finished the application process and thus, whose Visa documents are being processed. Generally speaking that lets us give a months notice of employment. Some of our long time clients, have been sold on the benefits of early notification, and they give us more notice ( 2-3 even 6 months), so we do hire a small number of people early. And of course, there are those clients that do not have much of a plan or organization and give us notice only a few weeks or days in advance, and we do the best we can with those.

If you are hired “unconditionally” you will have a position with one of our towns, it just may not be fixed yet which town, even after you arrive. Our clients have contracted with us to take one of our teachers, but they have also usually contracted for an interview/selection opportunity, or veto, with our employees. Our sales team spends a great deal of effort matching employees with towns and ensuring that this introductory meeting element of the process is just a formality with a single employee. However, even when a group of employees is requested to meet, but only one will be selected, the numbers balance out (eventually). By this time we have balanced our hiring, so that we have the same number of new employees as we have (signed) contracts to fill with our clients. We then shuffle through our employees with these introductory meetings until everything balances.

Do you have any positions in Tokyo?

Yes, but part time jobs only (such as only 100 days work a year), so we don't place new ALTs in Tokyo. Our client towns are spread out throughout the Kanto region (Ibaraki, Tochigi, Saitama, Chiba, and Gunma prefectures, and the Tokyo area), which are approx. 1-4 hours out.

When will I get paid?

As mentioned earlier, Japanese companies, as a rule, pay only once a month, sometime after the month in which you have worked. The Heart Corporation is no different. We pay all of our ALTs on the 25th of every month, the month following the month worked. For example, if you start work in April, your first paycheck from Heart will be on May 25th (covering the calendar month of April). While this is hard for many employees in the first 6 weeks (before their first payday), the upside is that the month after you stop working for the Heart Corporation, you receive a payment.


What type of Visa will I need to work in Japan?

To work full time in Japan, you will need a Spousal, Working Holiday, or Work Visa. Part time work is also available for anyone with a Dependant Visa. Although a Working Holiday Visa does allow someone to work in Japan, Heart School chooses to screen out applicants who do not meet the higher qualifications of a standard Work Visa. This requirement is a BA/BS degree. Anyone with one of these degrees (or higher) on a Working Holiday Visa, is still welcome to apply.

Does Heart English School sponsor Work Visa(s)?


If you are not already in Japan, I strongly recommend you give some second thought to any company offering to employ you without sponsoring your Visa. More so for countries out side of Japan, but there are some fly-by-night operations out there that will take advantage of your desire to work & travel, and leave you in some difficult positions.

What is the Visa process for a Work Visa?

The process is 2 part:

Part 1) A Certificate of Eligibility. This is obtained by us, the company, here in Japan. It is required before you may apply for a Work Visa. It takes 4-6 weeks. The following documents will be needed.

A) A photocopy of your passport photo and ID # page(s)
B) 2 head shot photos taken on a plain, white background 4cm (down) by 3cm (across).
C) Official Transcripts from each of your BA/BS or higher degrees. An official transcript will list the Type of Degree, and date awarded, and meets all requirements set by the awarding institution.
D) A copy of your BA/BS diplomas
E) Any additional degrees, certificates, or official records demonstrating experience, employment, or knowledge of Teaching or Japanese (language, or cultural studies)

They should be sent to this address:
Heart Corporation
2-6-10 Chuo, Mito-shi, Ibaraki-ken
JAPAN 310-0805

Part 2) After the company has received the Certificate from the Japanese government, it can be used to apply for a Work Visa. You must do this at your expense, if I remember it was around 4,000 yen. Sponsorship cost around 18,000 yen. The company covers this cost (sponsorship) as long as you don’t break contract. It takes another 4-6 weeks for the Visa here in Japan, or 1 week outside of Japan at an Embassy.

You can apply for the Visa at any Japanese Consulate, or here in Japan at an immigration office (Mito has one. There should be an immigration office in each prefecture). So you could in theory, arrive in Japan on a 90day tourist Visa, and apply for the Work Visa here. We can assist you with company housing in the meantime, but it is technically improper to work without the proper Visa.


Does the company provide a vehicle?

When the company deems it useful (and in a rural prefecture it is usually useful), we provide a vehicle lease option, for 20,000 yen a month. This includes basic legally required liability insurance.

The Vehicles may also be driven in the area where your school is located or in the city where you live for your personal use and needs during your free time.

Don’t I need a License?

Yes. Of course you do. But an International Drivers license can be obtained without a test, through any national travel agency for a small fee. In the USA, AAA is around $20 with AAA membership. An International Drivers license is good for 1 year from the date of your entry to Japan (NO MATTER WHAT the license says, you only get one year from your entry to Japan). After that you would need a Japanese License, which is either easy or frustrating/expensive depending on your nationality.


Does the company provide free housing?

No. Unfortunately not. However, it does offer to subsidize housing, and provide some rather useful support for those who are coming from overseas or are in Japan for the first time. The purpose of company housing is to save time and stress for the new employee when they first arrive in Japan, and to defer the HUGE up front cost of a Japan over your year. The last time I checked the landlord demands a service fee over the regular rent that covers the realty/key money/insurance cost of about 3 months of rent. So it's economical your 1st year, but eventually you would want to move out.

However, we can't provide accommodation near Tokyo, Saitama and Chiba area although we can assist ALTs in finding a guesthouse. If living in a guesthouse is not comfortable for you, you will need to find your own accommodation by yourselves, and sadly we can’t be your guarantors.

What is a guesthouse?

In a guesthouse, you will have your own room, but you will share some facilities, such as bathroom, kitchen, living room, and so on. Living costs of cities in Japan tend to be expensive. Apartment deposit is usually one month rent, but most of guesthouses' deposit is around 30,000 yen. You can save some money by staying in a guesthouse in Japan. Guesthouse is only available near Tokyo.

Do I need to live in a company provided apartment?

No. As long as we are confident that you can be punctual, well groomed, and in no other way jeopardizing your reputation at work, the company (from a purely business perspective) is indifferent to your living arrangements. We offer a company apartment as assistance to our employees. It is strongly recommended for people without Native Japanese support staff ( a spouse or very loyal friends), to accept company housing your first year if you are coming from overseas. You will save yourself a lot of time and stress in those critical early days, and without that support staff, you are unlikely to find a similar value.

Where will I stay until the company finds an apartment for me? When will I move to an apartment?

You will stay at a youth hostel/hotel in Mito until the apartment is ready. After the training session, you will move into an apartment if the apartment is ready. It’s usually a week.

Will I be forced to share the apartment with a roommate?

No. Most of our apartments are selected for single occupancy living. The exception is at the request of the individual employee, who may request accommodations for spouse, children, significant other etc.

Does the apartment come furnished or partly furnished?

Normally, apartments in Japan are not fully or partly furnished. However, recent trends include having some basic things like refrigerator, cooker, air-con/heater and bedding.

Is there Internet and cable television in the apartment?

No, there is not. Mostly ADSL Services can be acquired by obtaining your landline telephone account, and satellite TV is available to subscribers.

How far away is the apartment?

The apartment will be within bicycling distance if you can't drive, (some of our teachers cycle 7 km a day) or within a reasonable distance if driving.

How big are the apartments?

Apartment size in Japan is measured by “Tatami” mat(s). One tatami mat is 1.8meter by .9meter. Our single person apartments tend to have a 6 or 9 tatami mat living space, a small kitchen, a toilet room and a bathing room.

How much are the apartments?

Our apartments' rents range between 50,000 and 56,000 yen per month, depending on location and availability. Before you can be allowed to move in, we will require 2 month`s rent and a service fee equal to 1 month`s rent. In Japan, the service fee is normally non-refundable; however, Heart Corporation covers these costs and fees if the employee completes the lease of an apartment. If an employee doesn’t complete the lease contract period, the service fee would not be refunded as this serves as the processing fee for the arrangement and reservation of the apartment.In addition, you will need to pre-pay your Gas, Water, Electricity Utilities a cost of 10,000 yen per month. Checks don’t work in Japan, and our company doesn't have a credit card machine, so cash will be required.

Are there any other fees?

The following are utility bills the company collects and processes (they are pre-paid each month via deduction from your paycheck) Gas, Water, Electricity. This Utility (for single occupancy) is 10,000 yen per month, and covers those utilities up to 115% of valued usage. If actual usage exceeds 115% (11,500) of the prepaid (10,000), then the addition will be charged to you in your next pay period.

All others, such as telephone, internet, food, etc. you are on your own for.

Is this a good value for utilities?

In prior years these utilities were charged directly. Our flat rate may end up plus or minus for renters (esp. cold + hot seasons) but the benefit is not having to deal with individual (or any) bills. Ultimately it's still a fair price, compared to an independent renter.

O.K. then, what does the company provide by way of housing assistance?

1) Pre-arrival arrangements. Generally speaking, you arrive in Mito and your apartment is ready for you within a week, as long as you have your 2 month’s rent and security available in cash. If there is a delay in the apartment’ availability beyond a week, due to something on our side, the company will put you up in a hotel or temporary apartment at the same rate as your daily rent would have been. This is more common for those employees whose apartments are outside of Ibaraki, and who arrive in the week before training.

2) Key money. In Japan you must gift your landlord for accepting you. It’s standard in every apartment contract. The word for this payment is translated as “key money”, and is generally equal to 1-2 months’ worth of rent. In company apartments Heart School covers the Key money as we purchase in bulk.

3) Realty Fee. For some reason the Japanese do not advertise apartments directly, they always advertise through a realtor. The realtor will collect their fee from you, this is usually 1-2 month’s worth of rent (though I have heard tales that some rental contracts require additional payments to the realtor every 2-3 years). The Heart School also absorbs the realty fee for its apartments.

4) The space within the walls of a Japanese apartment must be insured by the person living there. This insurance is usually for a 2-year period, paid up front. The company absorbs this cost as well.

5) Outside of Tokyo most realtors/landlords require guarantors for any tenant. This guarantor is not only responsible for the rent and legal obligations, but also the moral character of the tenant. For company apartments the company is the guarantor. This is a two edged sword. The company is western enough to understand western social and home based hosting habits. But, when the old lady across the street complains that you have “guests” over in the evenings (regardless of what you are actually doing, and have every right to do in the space you have paid to rent), it will be the company that the landlord calls to address the problem with you and the lady across the street. Still even with this potential for difficulty, you won’t be able to rent a place without someone filling this role as guarantor. This does not apply to anyone living in Tokyo.

6) Semi-furnishing plus a minimum of “goods and chattels”. Although the trend is changing, traditionally, Japanese apartments are never furnished. Our company apartments are furnished with a futon, a mini-fridge, a heater/AC, a gas range cooker, and sufficient misc. “goods and chattels” to get you through to your first paycheck (only by way of an example: 1 fork, 1spoon, 1 plate, 1 glass, some cleaning aides, toilet paper, blanket, pillow, etc.)