Interesting information. I remember when I first started looking for an apartment, I was quite stressed out and was lucky to have a friend that said I could share an apartment with until I found something on my own.
I am not sure if the information about UR is wrong or different depending on the location, but I currently live in a UR apartment and I can assure you that I never had to pay for a guarantor. Perhaps the cost was included into the price of the apartment, but I have to say that I looked at many comparable apartments and the cost is actually lower.
The only thing I needed was proof of employment. I was able to choose my move in date (which also depends on the apartment's readiness) and I had to pay 3 months rent up front. The first month's rent, and the last two months rent. Apparently, the damage deposit was included with that. When and if I decide to move out, I basically don't pay for the last two months, which is how I get my money back.
The apartment I chose was older (probably 70s) but in good condition. They also did a quick refurbish of the apartment (new paint, wallpaper, etc) and was in good shape when I moved in. Fortunately, I haven't had any problems with it, so I've never had to contact anyone. I'm not even sure who I would if something happened (although I was given a guide when I first moved in -- in Japanese).
It's true that there is NOTHING in the apartments when you move in though. I was lucky, and there was ONE lightbulb in the bathroom which someone .. 'forgot'?
I would totally choose UR again if I had to change locations.