Furniture for Expats in Japan – bringing, leasing or buying
When you renting a residence in Japan, typically, rental properties with long-term contracts do not come fully furnished with furniture and appliances.
Here is a short guide to inform foreign expats of the different options available in Japan in when it comes to furnishing a home. The options we will cover include furnishing a home by purchasing, leasing, or bringing of furniture from one’s home country as well as what the benefits of each are based on one’s length of stay in Japan.
The differences between European/American furniture and Japanese furniture
As European and American homes are generally more spacious than their Japanese equivalent, furniture in Europe and America is bigger than Japanese furniture. As a result, quite often many pieces of European and American furniture will not fit in a Japanese home. Some common problems include furniture not being able to pass through the doors of a room which one may choose to rent while in Japan. Another common problem is that the furniture looks too big for the size of the room even if it is able to pass through the room’s door.
For foreigners planning to stay in Japan, please consider the following options while taking into account the length of your stay.
Bringing furniture from your home country
Even though it will take considerable time to arrive and cost a bit for shipping, the main benefit of bringing furniture from your home country is that you will be able to spend everyday in your home comfortably. If you are considering bringing large sized furniture from your home country, before shipping it to Japan, we highly recommend that you check the size of each room in advance and whether or not the furniture can pass through the door of the apartment which you plan to rent.
As you will be without furniture for some time while you wait for your furniture to arrive, you can furnish your home temporarily by renting furniture on a short-term bases. You can rent complete sets of tableware and bedding as well as furniture and appliances so that you can start a life in Japan immediately.
Attention: Bringing home appliances from your home country is not recommended due to voltage difference.
Leasing furniture during your stay in Japan
You can rent all necessary furniture and appliances from a furniture lease company. Such furniture lease companies carry furniture and appliances suited for European and American lifestyle and provide English-speaking services. Many foreign companies use the services of these furniture lease companies to prepare furniture for their employees who will be staying in Japan long-term.
Furniture leasing companies help you prepare all the necessary items for your daily life such as furniture, curtains, lightings, appliances, bedding, and so on. They will also explain how to use the appliances in English.
Once you either move back to your home country, or wish to change your furniture, they will take care of the leased furniture upon the end of your stay, so you do not have to worry about disposing of it.
Leasing Furniture by Lessor of Rental Housing
In this case the lender of a property rents a set of furniture to the tenant and the tenant rents the property with furniture rental fee included.
Buying furniture in Japan
Keep in mind that if you decide to buy furniture in Japan, you will have to either sell it or dispose of it before returning to your home country. If you are unable to sell it before it’s time to leave Japan, you will usually have to pay disposal fees for each item.
Many expats who purchased furniture during their stay in Japan want to sell their furniture and appliances when leaving Japan. This means that in order for them to avoid having to pay disposals fees for any furniture or appliances, many items are sold quite cheaply.
SAYONARA Sale is a popular term expats use to sell their furniture and other goods when leaving Japan and usually means that the items are being sold cheaply. There are a few websites with foreign communities that have bulletin boards where you can search items for sale or sell your items.
The following site is a common place to sell furniture and other items:
For further details about appliances and bedding, please see the guidance for foreigners below.
For more in-depth information about the differences in voltages, a step-up transformer, precautions upon purchase, and more, please read the following article.
If you would like to know more about purchasing and leasing bedding in Japan, along with bed sizes and more, please take a look at the following article.