We know a lot about Japan and the Japanese, but almost nothing about what kind of tenants they are. This is a very interesting and timely issue for Russia.
Not so long ago, the main foreign tenants in Moscow and the Moscow region were Europeans and Americans, but after the political setbacks between Russia and the West, the number of citizens from these countries renting realty in the RF capital and its suburbs has decreased greatly. But the number of newcomers from Asia has increased, including those from Japan.
“Even an easy matter may get tangled up” (Japanese proverb)
It should be mentioned that guests from the Land of the Rising Sun are very special clients. They differ both from Europeans and Americans, and the popular saying, “The Orient is a delicate matter” is on the nose. These are not just words. It is not easy to let a flat to a Japanese without taking into account details of the national psychology.
First of all, a Japanese is very demanding as to the choice of a flat. If one of his conditions (of which there may be up to 80) is not met, he is very likely to refuse the apartment. At the same time, he is not very hard to please.
The Japanese do not usually strive to take exclusive, up-market realty: a standard Moscow two-bedroom flat may do. The thing is that in their country they mainly live in mini apartments and in Spartan conditions: without beds, tables and the other traditional furniture we are accustomed to.
So, the offer of a flat with a 16 m2 sitting room and a bedroom of 10 m2 will not cause indignation. The main specific feature of the Japanese is their sense of commitment (‘obligingness’). All points in the concluded agreement will be fulfilled scrupulously, even if they do not like something. The oriental ethics they adhere to do not allow them to refuse to fulfil their commitments.
If an agency satisfies a Japanese customer, after the rental term he is likely to conclude a new agreement with the same company to avoid any risks or problems with new partners.
‘Extreme joy brings sorrow’ (Japanese proverb)
There is a Support Hotline in many agencies for corporate customers from Japan. Its services are always in-demand, as people often get in extraordinary situations: somebody cannot sort things out as he doesn’t know Russian, somebody has sunk a few and has problems with police, anything… these people call the Support Hotline and ask a clerk to clear up the situation and the clerk has to solve these problems for a Japanese guest: call the Embassy, the company’s security service, the police, etc. Sometimes they have to solve everyday problems, as many foreigners, including Japanese, cannot do the simplest things: replace an electric bulb, call a plumber to fix a dripping faucet, etc.
One can only help. Such services are included in the rental contract and account for 15% of the total cost. But the Japanese differ from other foreign tenants – they are too shy to call the Support Hotline.
The thing is that Japanese politeness and delicacy are bottomless. That’s why they call or send a message to the Support Service only when the situation is really unbearable, and they start a conversation or a letter with many excuses and only then comes a request... For example: “I am sorry, but the neighbours have been celebrating the holiday for several nights. Could something be done, please?”
‘The owner of a gold mountain is also greedy’ (Japanese proverb)
Russian letting companies consider Japanese customers exemplary. They have the most exact and specific demands, and besides this they fulfill all of their commitments carefully. They are especially keen on keeping to ethical norms. The head of a realty company told us a story: a homeowner let their house for 250,000 roubles a month. The Internet payment was included. A Japanese tenant agreed to the conditions, but then the owner demanded that the Internet should be paid for separately. The contract’s conditions had already been agreed upon and any change could have resulted in the loss of a profitable customer. The company decided to pay the annual Internet bill from their own funds and not to say anything to the Japanese customer. They transferred 12,000 roubles to an operator – a thousand a month – and everybody was satisfied.
‘A horse is tried by riding, and a man by talking’ (Japanese proverb)
The Japanese are public-minded people, at least abroad. They prefer to take up residency in dense, national mini-communities.
Few people know that there are places in Moscow where the Japanese population per square kilometer is rather high. One such place is Leninsky Avenue.
Another area for the Japanese diaspora is Shabolovka. Sometimes samurai descendants are ready to overpay to live there. The reason is simple: there are many offices of companies from the Land of the Rising Sun nearby. The Japanese are very rational.
‘Different countries have their own traditions and customs’ (Japanese proverb)
We think a priori that a Japanese will be happy if the agent he is dealing with speaks Japanese. Of course, a realtor speaking Japanese is a rare phenomenon, but they exist.
But in fact, this knowledge sometimes has the opposite effect. How can that be, you may ask... The thing is that if a Japanese knows that the person he is dealing with speaks his native language, he will be too shy to talk of business privately in his presence, and his innate sense of delicacy won’t let him step aside as we would. So you’d better not know Japanese, or at least conceal your knowledge of it.