Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Great Expectations 2

Having fallen in love with an apartment listing last Sunday, U and I went back on Saturday to actually look at apartments in our proposed new neighbourhood. We had been worried all week that the apartment would have been already snatched up, but to our delight it was still available. The agent took us to see a total of five places - all the same neighbourhood, same number of rooms, and roughly the same amount per month but still the variation was surprising. The low light was the place up a flight of stairs stinking of alcohol above a 24 hour convenience store... and the highlight was the listing we had fallen in love with. It was even better than we had hoped and we fell even further in love.

We decided, therefore, to declare our love for the apartment and propose. This being Japan nothing could be straightforward and reams of paperwork must be submitted. The first step requires us to apply for the apartment. Before we could do so, however, our young and very bouncy real estate agent got serious all of a sudden.

"What is your relationship?" she asked with a bland smile. I looked at U and he just looked at his hands, so the agent repeated her question "Are you married?"

"Umm, not yet." stammers U.

"Do you have a date set? A specific date and location?" Suddenly her perkiness is gone as she examines us closely. I stick with saying nothing and U mumbles a negative. Real estate woman gives us a last searching look, as if expecting U to propose to me right then and there. When that doesn't seem forthcoming she gives a long drawn-out sigh and announces that if we aren't married and have no immediate and concrete plans to be so, we'll each have to submit separate paperwork.

Then we had the fun of announcing to U's parents that we plan to live in sin. His father took the announcement stoically, simply nodding and then making positive sounds to my comment that this was the norm in Canada. U's mother, however, was less easily convinced. Her immediate reaction was to propose to me. Urmmmm...

And so the expectations mount. Any wonder my stomach isn't happy with me?!


  1. Sinners! Filthy sinners living in sin! Or at least trying to... The double standards on sex and relationships here drive me crazy. Want to shag your other half before marriage? No problem! Just drive to an expressway off-ramp not near you and have at it. As long as it's in secret.

    Want to live with them before making the leap into married life to make sure that it's going to work? Ooooh no, don't know about that - it's not the done thing...

    I really hope you get the place - from the listing it looked like it had been empty for a while so maybe they'll be keen enough to have someone in that they won't force a proposal before letting you sign the lease...

  2. Bloody rules. It's okay to shag them, and even have an abortion if you choose but you can't live in an apartment together??? I don't get this country.

    I would have expected that reaction from his parents but not from a business.

    When we first got our apartment hubby did it all alone, well actually i wasn't official anyway but it suprised me that he at 30 had to get his parents permission, their seal and bank details. Your never really independant here.

    (actually our house contract also has them as guarantors-funny really as our house is probably worth 3 times theirs!!

    *the word verification is strin-everyone seems to think your living in sin!!!

  3. God, bloody Japanese bollocks. I hope you get the apartment and are able to live in sin for as long as you like. TWO SETS of paperwork? I'm surprised they didn't just ask for U's and say yours wouldn't be any good cause you're a foreigner! That's what I got at one place. Sorry, no foreign passport holders.

  4. Umebossy - double standards it is! One of the comments U made to his parents made it clear that he has basically been living at my place on weekends. His parents took that without a feather ruffled. But when e want to make the jump to living together... Sigh.

    And yes, the listing does suggest the place has been available for a while. The price apparently went down too. I'm hoping that means they are a little desperate for somebody (anybody) and not that the landlords are uptight and have been turning down everybody

    Achan - U has also gotten various docs from his parents who are acting as his guarantors. I don't get the system either, but lucky for me my advisor is willing to act as my guarantor so I'm set.

    Gaijinwife - I left out the part of the conversation where the real estate agent, with U out of the room, in response to my question of whether we were likely to get the place or not, said that the biggest marks against us were my (low) salary (why that matters when U makes enough is beyond me) and my nationality. She looked at me as soon as she said it, like she was expecting me to freak out on her. I just nodded blandly and cursed her and the entire damn racist country in my head. I don't think she had any problems with me, and I'm hoping that she was just saying it to be thorough....

    But argggggh I am not good at waiting and I hate not knowing if we'll get the place or have to start looking again.... Aaaaaarrrrrgh!

  5. Some of this is so funny and some so not funny on so many levels! Great that you found a place that you like! The anti-foreign bias is so annoying. And are you serious that U's wife proposed to you? Did she get down on her knees?
    Fingers crossed that you will hear something positive soon.
    love and hugs,

  6. Oops, I meant 'U's mother'!

  7. The salary thing is weird, eh. When we applied for this place even though S's salary made it more than apparent that we had enough to pay the rent they wanted me to write down any income that I had to, to make it seem better. When I told them I just had a little from a couple of teaching contracts and occasional translation work they were like "so shall we say 10万 a month? Excellent." and wrote it down before I could say anything!

    Do you know when you'll find out?

  8. add an extra o to one of those tos! I'll let you choose which ;)

  9. Cath - We just stopped by his parents place briefly anddindt even go in - we all just stood by the door. His sister had come down with the flu so U and his parents were super worried about germs. So we shivered on the doorstep instead... Anyways, when U said we'd be moving in together his mother said "you should get married!" then she turned to me and said "will you marry him?" I must have looked rather surprised because she immediately laughed embarrassedly and said "I'm not the one who should ask!"

    And as for humor versus anger - I was more amused by it all, but as I started writing about it I started getting annoyed at the whole system/culture. The comments have only increased that frustration!

    Umebosy - how about I add the extra "o" to your paycheque and then offer to fill on for you while you're on maternity leave?! Hehe!

    One of my coworkers explained the salary thing to me today. She said that it is so that if we split and he hightailed it outta there they can be sure I'd be able to pay the rent on my own. I get that, but..... Sigh.

  10. About humour and anger: there's always a choice about how to respond to injustice. Humour is a good coping strategy if there's nothing you can do to change the rules or situation. Probably any foreigner who can live in Japan for a long time has to have a really good sense of humour! Or some great knitting projects on the go.
    Hang in there! love and hugs, C

  11. PS The staircase exchange is hilarious! I feel sorry for U's mother! love and hugs, C