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.