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Neighborhood suggestions for infants?!?!

Japan With Kids - Forums: General Discussions: Neighborhood suggestions for infants?!?!
By elizabeth iino on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 9:11 am:

Hello all,
I am preparing to move from the US to Tokyo in December. I have twin daughters who are 5 months old. I dont speak Japanese. My husband is currently in Tokyo apartment hunting; I am wondering: Should I take a larger apartment (170 meters) in Hiroo next to the Jewish Community Center and K-Space, a 15 minute walk to Arisugawa park, or a smaller place(136 meters) called Oji Homes, an apartment for foreigners, in Aoyama near upscale shops, I think like - Prada - . Oji homes has a play room and a pool, but is far from a park, but I guess I would meet people easily there. The place in Hiroo is large with a little garden, and I could join the JCC which has a pool, and attend play groups at K-space, and walk to the park, but the building in Hiroo has few tenants, only Japanese, and there are no other children in it. Does anyone know about Oji homes? I am very eager to build a meaningful community of friends in Tokyo who are creative, dynamic and also have children, and who speak English. Any suggestions?

Thanks for your help!

By Scott Hancock on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 9:45 am:

From what you describe, my vote would be the place in Hiroo.

I know the Oji Homes building. Yes, it's near shops, but they aren't your community. I think you would more than make up for whatever people you might meet there, by making connections through JCC, school, park, etc.

Do you shop at Prada everyday? Or, National supermarket, which is across from Arisugawa? That is much more of a consideration than trendy shops if you have twin babies!

FWIW - Scott

By Bethan Hutton on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 10:25 am:

Hi Elizabeth,
I know both the places you describe (not the actual apartment building in Hiroo, though I do know lots of people who have lived in Oji homes). One consideration is how you are planning to get around Tokyo. If you are planning to get a car, and the Hiroo apartment has a parking space, then that is probably the better bet. If you are planning to use public transport, then Oji homes might be better, as it is close to Omotesando station, which has three different train lines and elevators to all platforms (useful with a stroller).

Other useful facilities in the area of Oji homes are the Children's Castle (huge indoor play centre, plus pool in the basement), and the Metropolitan Children's Hall (five storeys of play, crafts etc, all free), both of which are less than 15 minutes' walk from the apartment block. Also very close to Oji homes is the Nezu Museum of Art which has a wooded garden you can wander around, and at the other end of Omotesando is the huge Yoyogi Park, which has acres of grass.

Hiroo has National Azabu supermarket, which has lots of imported food, a useful bookstore, and a noticeboard which is good for finding household help, second-hand goods etc. You also have Arisugawa Park nearby.

In the Omotesando area there are a couple of good large supermarkets, such as Kinokuniya (upmarket, lots of imported stuff), and Daimaru Peacock (more mid-market and Japanese). There are also a couple of good natural food/organic groceries, and several good bookshops stocking foreign children's books, etc. I would say Omotesando is possibly the more "creative" area, if you mean arts-oriented.

Basically, Hiroo and Omotesando are both very pleasant areas to live in, and you will find lots of other foreign families in both areas.

By elizabeth iino on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 11:56 am:

Thank you so very much for the information! I definitely am NOT a Prada shopper, but the museum & castle sound great. We would have a car in both apartments. It is a very difficult decision! I guess the most important thing for me is to find the best situation in which to easily build a community for my children and myself. Of course I want to meet and learn about the Japanese community, but the priority for me is finding English speaking children and mothers for us to be buddies with.
Any more suggestions are immensely appreciated. If you can give my e-mail to anyone who has lived/is living in Oji homes, that would be great, too.

By Fraupenguin on Thursday, November 29, 2007 - 11:54 pm:

Hello there,

We just moved to Tokyo a month ago and are currently staying in a fully furnished apartment in the Akihabara area. We have a 2 month old infant and are considering another area which is more family-friendly and closer to bigger supermarkets.

The supermarket near us (Y's Mart) is more like a convinence store and the prices there are averagely 20% to 30% higher than other supermarkets, for example the one in Roppongi Hills. And because of it's size, the selection at Y's Mart is very limited.

Are there any particular areas (or apartments) which we should be looking at? My husband's company will be paying for a fully furnished apartment with 2 sleeping rooms.

By Ruth on Friday, November 30, 2007 - 11:13 am:

Have you considered areas in Yokohama? The Honmoku and Yamate areas are convenient for commuting (express train to Shibuya from Motomachi/Chukagai or change at Yokohama Station to almost anywhere), are very family friendly, have a large foreign community, and are close to major supermarkets. There are also many attractive new residences near Yokohama Station.

By Fraupenguin on Friday, November 30, 2007 - 4:35 pm:

Hi Ruth,

Thanks for the suggestion. I've heard wonderful things about Yokohama and we've been there once to check the area out. However, from Yokohama to my husband's workplace, it would take about 1hr (one-way), which is rather far. We're hoping to find something which would take not more than 30mins by train (one-way).

I've been told contradicting things about Roppongi - some say it's good others say it's not for families. Any opinion on this?

By Ruth on Friday, November 30, 2007 - 4:51 pm:

There's Roppongi and then there's Roppongi--I tend to associate it with bars and pimps and other not-too-family-friendly phenomena. But Roppongi Hills and Ark Hills do of course have excellent housing for families. The Azabu Juban area next door and Minami Aoyama are both nice as well, as is Shiragane.

We might be able to think more productively if we knew what station your husband is aiming to reach in 30 minutes, though!

By Bendel on Saturday, December 1, 2007 - 9:54 am:

We live in Roppongi with our two children (one baby and one toddler), and have generally been very happy. We've now lived in Japan twice, and when we were here before we said we would never live in Roppongi...too dirty, too many bars, and perhaps too many gaijin. [Not that we have anything against gaijin, being gaijin ourselves. But if you're looking for a truly Japanese neighborhood Roppongi doesn't qualify.]

Nonetheless, when we moved back we found an apartment we loved in Roppongi, and since it was in walking distance of my husband's office we ended up taking it. The neighborhood is much more family friendly than we initially expected. There are two good playgrounds/parks nearby (in Midtown and in Roppongi Hills) and there's a 24 hour supermarket in Midtown. The area right around Roppongi Crossing is a bit dirty (not so bad on a Friday night when you're going out, but less appealing on a weekend morning) but once you get off the main streets the area is quite nice, and it's in walking distance of nice areas like Hiroo and Nishi Azabu. Transportation access is fairly convenient, and all the nearby subway stations are stroller-friendly.

Given the option, I would still choose Aoyama, Azabu Juban, Nishi Azabu, Yoyogi Uehara or Shiroganedai over Roppongi. But you shouldn't rule out Roppongi -- if it's close to your husband's office it can be a perfectly decent place to live with kids.

Incidentally, Hiroo is also nice as long as you have a car. The station doesn't have elevators or escalators, so it's not ideal if you are using a stroller. But there is a nice park and a big international supermarket in the area, and there are a lot of family-friendly apartments around.

Good luck finding a place!

By Fraupenguin on Monday, December 3, 2007 - 11:29 am:

Hi Ruth and Bendel,

Thanks very much for the information. Good to know that Hiroo station doesnt have elevators/escalators as we plan to use the pram quite a bit.

You wont believe it, we just check out Google Earth and had a look at where the nearest supermarket is to us. The nearest one is a good 30min walk away! Google Earth doesnt list convinence stores in their maps.

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