Gas attack

In the previous post we talked about Tokyo Gas’s relationship with the public housing corporation UR and how we were left with no choice but to throw away two perfectly good space heaters because they couldn’t be used in our new UR apartment and there was no system set up to sell or even give them to people who might be moving into our old UR apartment. As it turns out Tokyo Gas has UR tenants coming and going. Out new apartment does not have a stove, though our old one did. This is a facet of rental living in Japan that I had forgotten all about: the total lack of appliances. In the U.S. when you rent an apartment, you almost always get a stove, an oven, a refrigerator, sometimes even a washer/dryer, not to mention central heating. You don’t necessarily get any of those things in Japanese rentals, though, as I mentioned, our last UR apartment did have a stove, and recently some UR apartments have had floor heating or wall heating units built into the rooms. We have gas-powered floor heating in our new apartment in the living room only, but for some reason it’s billed separately from the other gas we use in the apartment, which means it requires a separate contract and, thus, a separate contract signing fee: ¥7,500 just to turn the system on. We were told, however, that if we did use floor heating we would get a “discount” on our total gas bill in any month we used the floor heating. We assume that means floor heating is very expensive. Since there are no gas outlets in our new apartment, we would have to heat the place with electric space heaters or kerosene heaters if we decided not to use the floor heating. In any case, it won’t be cheap.

When the Tokyo Gas guy came to turn on the gas in our new apartment, we asked him about leasing a stove. He said Tokyo Gas doesn’t lease stoves to renters. The reason we later found out was that Tokyo Gas couldn’t guarantee the full price of the stove unless the person was more or less guaranteed to be living in his or her residence for six years. In fact, though Tokyo Gas’s TV commercials talk about leasing, they only lease to home owners or, if a renter wants to lease, his/her landlord. Basically, it’s another way of guaranteeing sales. If you lease, you basically “buy” the stove after six years and then you can “lease” a new one for another six years. Rental apartments don’t traditionally come with stoves because Tokyo Gas, not to mention manufacturers like Rinnai and Paloma, can always sell them to new tenants. If stoves were permanently installed, their sales would suffer mightily. Of course, buying a stove makes more sense since if you leased one and did live in your rental abode for a long time, you’d end up paying list price and thus more for the stove than you would if you’d bought it outright. The point was that we didn’t want to be saddled with a stove. The last time we bought one we had to get rid of it because the place we moved to–our previous UR apartment–had one.

But that would be impossible this time, so we asked the Tokyo Gas guy how much he would sell a stove for. The prices ranged from ¥50,000 to a whopping ¥135,000. Why is a gas stove that expensive? It’s not as if it has lots of sophisticated electronics or runs on fuzzy logic. We figured we could buy a stove made by another manufacturer at a lower price, and we settled for one made by Harman, a company we’d never heard of. ¥35,000. We still asked Tokyo Gas to set it up since those are the sorts of services we are willing to pay for, even if it was free. But we did have to buy a hose and a bracket from the Tokyo Gas guy to connect the new stove. But there was a bright side. We didn’t have to buy a bathtub.


  1. Radon · June 21, 2011

    We use 床暖房 and love it. Although the initial connection fee seems steep, it is quickly offset by the discount applied (to all gas-use, not just the gas used by the 床暖房) and the electricity savings. We switched from using electric heating to 床暖房 last winter and probably saved an average of 1000yen a month off our utilities bills.


    • catforehead · June 21, 2011

      That makes me feel a lot better. Thanks for the info.


  2. osakachris · June 22, 2011

    I remember it well. The only thing that came with my place in osaka, was a heater for the bath. No AC, central heat, stove, fridge, etc.
    As you covered in a previous story, there was no insulation, so it was actually pretty useless to run a heater. When I got home in the winter it was too late at night to make any real difference, so I just put on heavy clothes. No heat in the bathroom, below 10C for baths was a real treat ; ). Above 45C in the summer, and NO screens on the windows.
    I don’t remember the ‘turn on’ fee for gas, but the 5K-6K fee for the phone more than offset any so-called savings. Also the 10 month key money.
    Hung up clothes in my apartment on 1 line.
    No complaints though, because I actually had it better than a lot of my friends.
    Love the site. I was there in the 90s from 90-97.


    • catforehead · June 22, 2011

      Ten months? Jeez.


  3. Nell · July 11, 2011

    I was lucky with both my rentals here. 1st little place had a stove and a couple months after I arrived the landlord turned up with an air conditioner and little man to install it. The 2nd place had no stove, but it did have a funky bath and 4 – yes, four – air conditioners. One in every room, including the little 4 mat kitchen/dining!


  4. Ebony · July 30, 2012

    Can you rent a stove with an overn in japan or are those impossible to get? Thanks love the blog


    • catforehead · July 31, 2012

      They’re not impossible to get, though finding a business that rents them out might be a chore. You can certainly buy one. The real problem is space. If you plan to install it in a rental property you may not find any place to put it, unless you are renting a huge, Western-style residence.


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