Receiving the Key
You will be given the key to the apartment after signing the rental agreement. The original key (not a copy) must be returned to the landlord at the end of the contract period, so be careful not to lose it. If you receive more than one key, you must return all of them.
Check the Initial State of the Apartment
Once you move in, check the initial state of the apartment and that all furnishings are in working order. Create a list any damage, stains, or broken furnishings that you find, together with dated photographs. This will help you to avoid disputes regarding restoration fees when moving out.
You will need to contact utility companies to start receiving service for your apartment. Sites are in English unless otherwise noted.
TEPCO Online Service Request (Tokyo Electric Power Company)
In Japan, residents can choose their electricity suppliers. Ask your landlord if you have any options.
Before you move in, contact the gas company that services your building and make an appointment to have your gas turned on. You must be present when the technician comes to turned on the gas.
Tokyo Gas is one of the main providers of city gas (都市ガス, toshi gasu) for Tokyo and Yokohama. Applications are accepted in English only by telephone (0570-002211, not toll-free). Tell the operator you would like to open an account in English by saying, “Eigo de kaishi tetsuzuki shitai desu“. You will then be transferred to an operator who speaks English.
Furthermore, some buildings use liquefied petroleum gas (LPガス, LP gasu) rather than city gas. Find out from your real estate agent what kind of gas your building uses and which company provides it.
Water is managed by each city’s public waterworks bureau:
Tokyo Metropolitan Waterworks Bureau
Customer service center for the 23 wards of Tokyo
Customer service center for Tama areas*
*Hachioji-shi, Tachikawa-shi, Mitaka-shi, Ome-shi, Fuchu-shi, Chofu-shi, Machida-shi, Koganei-shi, Kodaira-shi, Higashimurayama-shi, Kokubunji-shi, Kunitachi-shi, Nishitokyo-shi,Hino-shi, Kiyose-shi, Komae-shi, Higashikurume-shi, Musashimurayama-shi, Higashiyamato-shi, Akiruno-shi, Fussa-shi, Mizuho-machi, Hinode-machi, Okutama-machi, Inagi-shi, and Tama-shi
Yokohama City Waterworks Bureau
Applications are accepted in English only by telephone (045-847-6262, English language inquiries are only available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays).
Kawasaki City Waterworks Bureau (Japanese)
Applications are accepted in English only by telephone (044-200-3548, everyday, 8:30-20:00).
Greet Your Neighbors
It is a good idea, and common courtesy in Japan, to introduce yourself to your neighbors. Neighbors who know each other will typically be more tolerant of the occasional noise or disturbance caused by one another. Therefore, as soon as you move in, visit the people living directly next door, downstairs, and upstairs. Say hello to the people you pass in the hallways as well.
Tip: Greeting your neighbors in Japanese
Typically, you are required to notify your landlord if you plan to be absent from the apartment for a month or more.