Geek House, Where Tokyo Techies Play More, Pay Less
What's a Geek House, and why are they springing up around Tokyo like Mario's mushrooms? To address the first question, Geek Houses are a relatively new phenomenon brought about by a combination of high rents, low wages and the desire for young techies to share domestic life with those who share their interests.
Japan Probe recently featured a Geek House (pronounced "Gikuhausu") at their site, and included a video from Fuji TV showing what living with nerds might look like - and it ain't pretty. One wonders what would happen if one of the 5 male housemates happened to being a lady friend home... but they're geeks, so the question is moot.
The idea behind Geek House makes sense when you consider that young Japanese computer engineers are rather poorly paid compared to their counterparts in much of the western world. Heck, even Dilbert can afford to live on his own! Tokyo's famed housing shortage makes the problem worse as apartments are hard to find and priced exorbitantly.
Sharing the rent solves both problems but creates new ones, such as the fact you're sharing a small apartment with a bunch of messy nerds. At least they're quiet - once you tune out the incessant chattering of fingers on keyboards.
The Geek House apartment featured rents for 130,000 yen (about $1,380) per month and is divided into 2 bedrooms and a shared common room with a kitchen area - what locals call a "2LDK" (2 rooms + Living/Dining/Kitchen). It looks miserably cramped but maybe clearing away the empty soft drink cans and fast food wrappers might help, huh guys? Hey, you're near Akihabara, can't you hire a maid??
Anyhow, those interested in either living in a Geek House or establishing one should visit the Geek House Project website, whose mission is to spread the Geek House gospel across Japan and maybe even farther: geeks are a global phenomenon after all. Live long and prosper - together!
J A P A N O R A M A