Good news: We found an apartment. We went through Sakura house (http://www.sakura-house.com/) I can recommend them after my experience, but some important tips would be -
-If you can go view the apartments. You have no idea of the area they are in or what they really truly look like unless you see them in person.
- If you can't see them, or want one before you lease your country/city, watch the videos of the apartments as they give a better idea than the pictures.
-Try to ask your real estate agent if they know much about the area and see if it is a very old area, and what transport it is most close to as the areas shown on the website are very broad.
When you are happy with an apartment you pay a bond up front. Ours was ¥30,000ea and we get ¥20,000 so long as the house is very clean and undamaged when we leave.
The rent is a lot more than we wanted to pay at ¥140,000 a month (about $410 a week AUS$) but for what we wanted we had to pay a price.
We looked yesterday at some places and the guy seems eager to just get rid of us, but today a new guy took us around to an apartment in the outer suburbs of Tokyo. It was a cool place.. to visit.. not to live though. It was probably from the 70's in a traditional Japanese style in a very old town and the back yard was a graveyard! It was a totally surreal place and town. Its really amazing how diverse the areas are in Japan.
He was very keen to help us in any way as we had a connection, being that he studied at the same University as my partner and lived right near my uni in Brisbane!
His favourite architect designed the museum in Ueno, which is near our hotel so we are going to check it out tomorrow.
He was so super helpful and researched exactly what we wanted and found us the perfect apartment. I cant wait to post pics. I really wanted to photograph all of the places we went but I thought it would be a little rude. (I'm very big on being polite and respectful... unlike the awful, loud, demanding Americans that were at Sakura house too *frown*)
One downside to Sakura House is that they charge you to have guests stay. I guess this is a measure to stop subletting, but it kinda sucks if you want your friend or family member to come visit for a few days. I think it works out to be about $22 a day, but if you need an extra bed/futon you gotta pay for that too (a hire+installation kind of deal)
Anyway i've rambled enough. I'll do a post on the railways soon for anyone who wants to know if they come to Japan. I think we have gotten pretty pro at them in only a couple of days.
Weary arrival at the apartment.