For foreign residents planning on staying in Tokyo, there’s no name more ubiquitous than Sakura House.
The friendly multilingual team members here have been doing their bit to help both long and short-term residents navigate the sometimes tricky world of accommodation hunting in Japan for the past 25 years.
Breaking down unfamiliar real estate territory and doing away with discrimination, Sakura House has become the first point of call for many wanting to set up a life here in Japan. Not having to deal with unknown fees, paying key money and sifting through confusing paperwork, as well as offering a support network and international community, staying in a Sakura House residence is one of the best and easiest transitions for those making the leap.
As well as long-term options, the company also offers equally as easy options for those planning short-term stays, under the sister brand Sakura Hotel & Hostel. Their recently opened hotel in Nippori is arguably the company’s most impressive effort yet. Sitting in an old-style pocket of Tokyo, the hotel is actually a repurposed nurse’s headquarters, featuring a traditional Japanese interior but with all the modern-day amenities you’ve come to expect. In celebration of the success of this hotel and the exciting plans for the future, we look back at everything the Sakura House and Sakura Hotel & Hostel team have built over the past two and a half decades.
The birth of Sakura House
During the time of the company’s conception, there was really no ideal type of accommodation for foreign guests wanting to explore Japan. This was especially true for those planning on setting up a life here in Japan. The real estate world was built solely around the local market, which meant that finding long-term housing was a massive barrier to entry.
In order to fill the gap, Sakura House stepped in, setting up an agency where all the strenuous hurdles of house-hunting were eliminated. Inspired by their own travels across the globe, the company’s chairman at the time and his staff looked at the future 25 years from then and knew that the influx of foreigners in Japan was an inevitability. From there they went about providing a welcoming and accessible service for international guests.
How the company’s philosophy created success
Though on a surface level it looks like housing is their main market, Sakura House’s ethos has always been built on providing foreign guests with a community. Creating communal, friendly environments in which people from all over the world can meet, gain mutual understanding and develop friendships has always been the driver of their success. Today you can find a house almost anywhere in Japan, but it’s the organic sense of community, one that’s been fostered over decades, that makes Sakura House such an overwhelming success.
As one staff member explained to us, “Human interaction is the key of Sakura House’s philosophy. Since we are welcoming and meeting people with different backgrounds, what is happening in the world affects us as well.”
What is a typical Sakura House resident?
There’s no real “typical” resident as all Sakura housing across Tokyo welcomes residents from all walks of life. However, there are a few unifying features for a Sakura House tenant. As the staff explain: “The number one reason why they choose shared accommodation is of course price; it’s a lot more reasonable than other options”.
But there’s much more to it than just penny pinching. “Also they can get the opportunity to meet people that will become gradually their second family.” As the share economy grows, and the world becomes more connected, people are actively searching for opportunities to become involved in the global community. Though Japan is still a largely homogeneous nation, the accommodation industry here is booming compared to 25 years ago — thanks to companies like Sakura House.
Building an international community in Japan
Embracing and encouraging the international atmosphere of Sakura House is one of the company’s main driving forces today. As they explain: “Our staff have also travelled a lot, so if you have questions or need some advice, they will be more than glad to share their tips.”
This international community is something that is literally built into the bricks and mortar of Sakura House and Sakura Hotel & Hostel. Their 4 Sakura Café and Restaurant Hatagaya, Ikebukuro, Jimbocho and Nippori offer broad selections of international dishes that are available 24 hours a day. Open to non-staying guests too, including residents of Sakura House, they become community hubs for locals and visitors wanting to mingle and connect.
Where opponents come together and people fall in love
This sense of community has fostered some pretty incredible memories over the years for the guests and staff at Sakura House and Sakura Hotel & Hostel. We asked some of the staff about their highlights and they had a hard time choosing.
“We had a few different groups staying at Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro at same time. One from Europe and another two from South America. We found out that they were all attending the same karate international competition. While they were staying at our hotel, they became close and created close relationships. We witnessed opponents become real friends at our hotel,” said one staff member.
It turns out the company is also responsible for creating a family too. “We had two residents from different countries who happened to stay in the same share house. They gradually became close friends and ultimately fell in love. They moved out and came back together as a married couple and stayed with us. After a few years, they came back with a child and stayed with us. And a few years later, they brought their now expanded family and stayed with us again!”
More than just somewhere to sleep
The company organizes a number of unique cultural experiences for both tenants and guests staying at a Sakura House residence or a Sakura Hotel & Hostel. Seasonal events like the sumo watching tour, drum shows and workshops, samurai fight shows, geisha night show events, and baseball game tours are all fantastic introductions to a new home and way of life in Japan.
They also offer tenants and guests the chance to meet each other and locals through special social activities like local festivals (matsuri), as well as one of the biggest art events in Asia, Design Festa — partly run by the Sakura House team. Held at Tokyo Big Site, the next Design Festa will be held in May.
Looking to the future
With so much going on including the addition of Sakura Hostel Asakusa and Sakura Hotel Nippori, what the future looks like for Sakura House is bound to be big. The company’s main focus right now is to set themselves up for the 2020 Olympics. As one spokesperson explained: “This event is also a massive opportunity for us to welcome and meet more international friends. Even though it’s still two years from now, we can see the momentum created by this event.”
“People who could not even locate Japan on a map, are now becoming aware and more interested in the country,” they added.
Their prediction 25 years ago was right, so we’re inclined to believe it. But Sakura House’s focus goes beyond just the Olympics. Looking to continue to build the international legacy that they’ve started and from the change they’ve created in the past 25 years, there’s no limit to what the next quarter of a century will bring for this ground-breaking company.
Sakura House: http://s.gaijinpot.com/2EmWVqH
Sakura Hotel & Hostel: http://s.gaijinpot.com/2Epwelu© Japan Today