Finding Pet Friendly Apartments in Japan

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Photo by Nicola Centenaro

An animal-lover moving to Japan may be disappointed to learn that most Japanese apartments are not pet friendly. My animal-companion of choice would be a parakeet, but the terms of my lease clearly state: “You cannot keep dogs, cats, chickens or other pets.”

I assume that parakeets would fall under the “other pets” not allowed by my contract. Keeping a pet in a no-pets-allowed apartment is asking for, at the very least, a large amount taken out of your deposit when you move.

If you’re set on getting a furry, feathered, or otherwise animal friend, the best way would be to choose an apartment that allows pets in the first place. In this article, I’ll introduce a few ways to find your pet-friendly apartment, some cost considerations, and some useful vocabulary.

Finding Pet Friendly Apartments In Japan

Whether you are using Japanese (see vocabulary below) or English to search, you can scope out pet-friendly apartments by looking online. Our very own GaijinPot apartment search specifically has a “pets negotiable” search (click “show more” for this checkbox).

If you can’t find a pet-friendly apartment listed online, don’t be afraid to call or go in person to an realtor. A realtor that offers services in English may not necessary advertise pet-friendly apartments in English online, so it’s worth asking.

Also, connections matter, so I recommend talking with coworkers or friends in Japan about finding pet-friendly apartments.

Even if an apartment isn’t advertised as pet-friendly, you may be able to make a deal with the landlord. A column on the Japanese website Excite suggests that fish, hamsters, ants, and parakeets may very well be allowed in “no pet” apartments if you simply get permission from the landlord. Perhaps I can keep that parakeet after all.

Keep in mind that “pet-friendly” may apply only to certain pets. Even pet-friendly landlords may place restrictions on the type, size, or number of the pets allowed. Discuss your specific case when asking about pet-friendly apartments.

For the bad news, pet-friendly apartments may be older or farther from the station. Additionally, while a room may be pet friendly, elevators and hallways may not be. Although not common, there have been cases where an apartment has gone from “pet friendly” to “no pets allowed” while pet owners were still living in the apartment. Also, pet owners tend to face higher rent, as discussed in the section below. Taking all of these factors into consideration would be wise.

Cost Considerations of Pet Friendly Apartments

In addition to the regular expense of keeping a pet in Japan, such as food costs, vet bills, and registration fees for certain pets, you might have to pay more for your apartment than someone without a pet would pay. Below are some examples of possible extra expenses.

  • Higher overall rental
  • Additional monthly rent per pet
  • Higher key money and/or security deposit upfront
  • Higher cleaning/restoration fee upon moving out

This can be discouraging, but higher rent may be justified by a truly pet-friendly apartment. Some pet-friendly apartments have soundproof walls, cushioned floor, or even pet doors! Of course, this may be the exception rather than the rule, but with a little work, you can find a pet-friendly apartment in your price range.

Pet Friendly Vocabulary

If you are searching in Japanese or would like to check your current contract, a few words will come in handy.

Pets NOT Allowed
ペット禁止 (petto kinshi)
ペット不可 (petto fuka)
ペット厳禁 (petto genkin)

Pets Allowed
ペットOK (petto OK)
ペット可 (petto ka)
ペット相談可 (petto soudan ka — pets negotiable)

Do you own a pet in Japan? How did you find your pet-friendly apartment?

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Spends weekends aimlessly wandering Tokyo.

Pet Friendly Apartments On GaijinPot

Looking for a place to stay for you and Fido? Search GaijinPot Apartments for our pet friendly listings.
  • Lynn says:

    Rabbits are such good pets. I can understand how attached you could get 🙂 Since landlords are probably most worried about damage and noise, I think there’s a chance they may be more lenient about rabbits. Good luck!

  • phoxe says:

    I’m coming to Japan with my pet rabbit in September. I must be mad but I simply cannot give her up. I imagine most landlords will have no idea what a house rabbit will entail and I’m setting myself up for a headache.

    • Ariel Basnight says:

      I’m actually planning to move to Japan with my two rabbits this coming summer. I couldn’t part with my babies. Would love to hear about your experience and any advice you may have!

    • Ayla S says:

      Did you bring your bunny to Japan? How did it work out? I want to move to Japan, but I don’t want to leave my bunny behind.

    • DarkDawnActual says:

      Gooooood luck for Japanese landlords are hard case and tyrannical overlords.

  • Anthony Joh says:

    Is there an organization like the SPCA here in Japan? I hope people have an adoption option like the SPCA instead of buying a pet from a breeder.

    • Maddy says:

      If breeders are reputable (follow strict guidelines), there’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying a certain breed- you should, however, ALWAYS get your pet neutered.

    • Eija Niskanen says:

      Yes, there are shelters, and after the 2011 tsunami, some shelters have cats and dogs from the disaster area.
      Japanese rarely buy from a breeder, they buy from a petshop, which is really bad and many of those puppies are from puppy mills.

    • Elizabeth says:

      There was definitely a cat shelter in Kamakura in 2009 (most likely still is!). In Sapporo, one of the cat cafes is actually a cat shelter and you are able adopt one of the cats you play with.

  • zoomingjapan says:

    I always wanted to have a cat as a pet. I used to have cats before I moved to Japan.
    However, all my apartments so far didn’t allow pets.
    Well, my first one was so small that it would have been horrible for any kind of pet and also for me anyways.

    All of my apartments came with the job and I couldn’t choose my own. I had to take what they offered me. It were all good apartments, but pets were never allowed.

    Now, I have a huge apartment, but pets aren’t allowed.
    I’ve already been thinking about moving to “my own” apartment, but that would include a lot of extra cost and like you say “pet-friendly” apartments often are more expensive on top of that. 🙁

  • sam says:

    Have a husky. Its harder for larger dogs. Iillte ones arent that big of a problem. Overall, less choices and higher deposits.

    • Lynn says:

      That probably explains all the tiny dogs in Tokyo. I almost never see anyone walking a dog larger than a terrier. Your dog (profile pic) is beautiful. I hope you found a good apartment.

    • Anthony Joh says:

      What are your options for your dog during the day? Do they have a doggy day care here?

  • Wanderlust Japan says:

    I have a rabbit. It is technically not allowed, but when searching for an apartment I was told by the realtor that the management company would likely never notice a rabbit. He is in a cage and doesn’t make noise, so unless someone broke into my apartment, there would be no way of knowing he was there. I have had him for 5 years now and have not had any trouble.

    • phoxe says:

      You know, I’m bloody glad I spotted this post, I’m moving to japan with my rabbit. Did you buy yours in japan ?
      How good was your japanese when explaining to your realtor?

  • April Gutierrez says:

    If anyone has any experience in Fukuoka, I’d love to hear it. I’ll be living temporarily in work-provided housing when I come over, but they don’t allow pets and I’d like to bring my kitty over after I find a place and he goes through the required quarantine.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I brought my cat to Japan (Sapporo) and used a realtor to find an apartment. They were able to show me a number of apartments in my price range that allowed cats. There was an additional fee listed, but the realtor managed to get this waved.

    Using a realtor may not have been the cheapest option (they charge a month’s rent), but with the language barrier, strange city and pet-friendly requirements, I found it paid off.

    • Lynn says:

      I think using a realtor in situations like that is the way to go. Even putting aside the language barrier, trying to get set up in an unfamiliar city, especially with a pet, is challenging. I hope you and your cat are happy with your place in Sapporo!

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