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Reasons Why Foreigners Choose ‘Solar Residences,’ Zero-Energy Rental Homes Including Utilities, for Their Living in Japan

When it comes to criteria for finding a place to live, what factors matter most to you? Is it the rent, proximity to a train station, or the layout of the apartment? Each person has their own priorities and areas where they may or may not compromise. As you prepare for a new chapter in your life, consider the timing for moving. In Urayasu, a city with a 46-year history, Meiwajisho, in collaboration with R Design, another local construction company, has completed an exciting new rental housing option: the “Zero-Energy Rental Residence.” This innovative housing concept was realized in Urayasu’s Imagawa area in 2023, and another one is set to be completed in Urayasu’s Kitazakae area this April!

Notably, these rental properties are the first in the Tokyo metropolitan area to include all energy costs (electricity, heating, and cooling) as part of the package. Additionally, they are suitable for couples and even allow pets.

Solar Residence” rental housing

The “Solar Residence” is a rental residence with many features that will make our lives easier in the future, such as “You can keep all rooms comfortable with just one air conditioner, both in summer and winter,” “automatic temperature and humidity control,” “zero energy with solar power generation and storage batteries,” “energy visualization,” “long life and the highest level of earthquake resistance,” and many other features! The Solar Residence is a rental residence that emits only 1/20th of the CO2 of an ordinary residence!

What kind of things are packed into this “carbon neutral rental housing that the government aims to achieve by 2050”? We asked Mr. O and Ms. S, a couple who decided to move in this March, why they chose the “Solar Residence.

Solar Residence Imagawa
Solar Residence Kitazakae

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Why did we choose Solar Residence?

They are an international couple from Japan and Korea. Since the living environment in their countries is different from each other, both of them had different requests. Ms. S., is originally from Korea and currently works for a Japanese company, and she has been living in Japan for a long time. When we asked her about the differences between Korea and Japan, she told us that the crucial difference is the “cold weather.

Even in the Korean city of Seoul, the temperature often drops to minus 10 or 20 degrees Celsius on cold days. In Korea, it is common to have floor heating in all rooms, even in rented houses, and it is basic to heat the entire house with warm water. In the old days, the whole house was kept warm by a heating method called “ondol,” which utilized the smoke emitted when a fireplace was built. So houses with high insulation are common in Korea!

I want to live in a warm room even if I rent! Is it warm enough in a property without floor heating?

This cultural background also made her feel that “Japanese houses are cold! Since Ms. S came to Japan, one of her winter routines is to wake up in the morning, turn on the heater, and go back to bed to warm up before starting her activities. She felt that this was a waste of time and effort, so she looked for a house with underfloor heating, but she found that almost none of the rental houses in Japan had underfloor heating.

It is indeed difficult to find rental properties with underfloor heating. It’s not installed very often because of the high cost of installation. Most people focus on “rent” when looking for rental housing in Japan. However, we believe that what customers really want is not to reduce “rent,” but what they really want to focus on is the desire to reduce the total cost of rent plus alpha. The key is to consider not only the rent, but also the total cost of housing, including water, utilities, and communication expenses (fixed wi-fi + smartphone bill). says Mr. Sasaki, a manager of Meiwajisho’s Leasing Department.

Utility costs are surprisingly high and fluctuate depending on the season. It is also common for utility costs to rise or fall depending on the appliances used, and people tend to think of rent and utility costs separately. Utility expenses are not constant, varying with the season.

In this respect, “Solar Residence” includes all-electric utilities and the NURO Hikari Internet fee in the rent, so the overall fixed cost can be kept constant. There are no seasonal fluctuations in utility costs, and the temperature is automatically adjusted to a comfortable level throughout the year without the use of underfloor heating or electric heaters. Furthermore, the house is highly airtight and insulated. The entire room is constructed like a thermos, so there is no need to lower the temperature of the air conditioner in the summer to increase the airflow, or set the heating temperature higher in the winter! says Sasaki.

It is very attractive to have fixed costs that are constant! And the high airtightness and high insulation make it great for those who are cold. Nowadays, not only women but also many men suffer from coldness. We can expect a change in physical condition from the annoyance of coldness! Ms. S. told us, “I can’t wait to move in! It’s going to be an exciting new life!

SolarResidence Imagawa

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You might become more environmentally friendly!

In addition, Ms. S. was curious about Solar Residence when she saw the words “zero-energy housing for a low-carbon society” on a website she was always browsing on her way to work.

She thought, “This is the highly insulated house I’ve been looking for, and it’s amazing that there are houses that can reduce carbon dioxide emissions, I want to live here!”  When we asked if she was originally interested in zero-energy, she replied, “I’m not that interested, but I’ve started using tumblers and taking care not to generate waste…to the extent that I can do it on my own. …”  Ms. S. was very nice, even though she was afraid to say so!

With her eyes by her side, her boyfriend, Mr. O. said “That’s great! She is so nice. I’m so proud of her !” Actually, Mr. O just recently moved to a new place to live alone. But her passion for “This is the only place for me!” that pushed them to went and to see the house during this cold winter.

The first thing that surprised Mr. O was how thick the front door was. Mr. Kido of R Design, who undertook the installation, said, “Yes, it is the highest grade insulated entrance door made by a domestic manufacturer. I’m glad you noticed!” The door is a very heavy door,” said Kido. Mr. O said that although the door was massive, it did not feel heavy. And he was surprised that he didn’t have to wear slippers when he walked through the front door.

When we asked Mr. Sasaki why he did not give them slippers, he replied, “First of all, I want them to feel the warmth of this property! I wanted them to take off their shoes and feel the floor on their first step!” I wanted them to take off their shoes and feel the floor.

I was surprised at this. Even though it was cold in the middle of winter, I was able to stay in the room normally without feeling cold. Also, I had heard that the house had a high level of insulation, so I thought it would have double sashes, but I was surprised to hear that it had triple sashes, which I had never heard of before! Mr. O said.

Triple sash windows are said to be 4 to 6 times more insulating than ordinary glass windows, and have many advantages in terms of crime prevention as well as preventing condensation. The higher thermal insulation quality will also affect the daily utility costs. Nevertheless, this property is not only electricity inclusive, but also a zero-energy rental housing.

The room temperature and humidity are automatically controlled 24 hours a day, and the room temperature can be automatically controlled by the air conditioner. CO₂ concentration is automatically measured, and ventilation is also performed automatically. During ventilation, heat is recovered from the discarded air with up to 88% efficiency by using a heat exchange ventilation system so that the warmed (cooled) indoor air is not discarded. A temperature and humidity meter is installed as standard equipment to ensure that the space is comfortable all year round,” Kido told us.

Is leaving the air conditioner on all the time environmentally friendly?!

Leaving the air conditioner on is a waste of money! → Leaving the air conditioner on is good for the earth! It is exciting to think that we are moving into a new future. The fact that the ventilation system is working 24 hours a day gives us hope for the coming pollen season!

At first, Mr. O was hoping for a newer building, walking distance from the station, a good layout for two people, and if possible, sunlight, but he did not have such high expectations before viewing the property.

When Mr. O heard from Mr. Sasaki of the Leasing Department about how interesting this property was, he said, “After listening to the story and actually touching and feeling the house myself, I realized how good the zero-energy house was, and I was excited about moving in as well! The fact that the utilities are included in the rent, not to mention the internet access, is also very appealing.”

He also said, “I will be able to live comfortably in cold winters and gloomy summers without feeling the coolness of the bathroom! I had given up on the idea that there was such a thing as warm rental housing in Japan, but I am very happy to have found a rental house where people from other countries can live as they like without having to worry about temperature differences or the environment! said Ms. S.

Choosing an Earth-Friendly Home for the Future

Mr. Sasaki of the Leasing Department was also concerned about the exposure to the sun. Although the popular sun exposure directions are south and east, Ms. S says she is not particularly concerned about the sun exposure in any direction for the “Solar Residence,” which includes ventilation, air conditioning system, and utility costs.

Certainly, laundry can be completed in your room without worrying about it, so you can realize a completely new life that transcends the conventional concept of finding a room.

It must make your heart happy to feel like you can contribute to the global environment a little by choosing an earth-friendly home for the future. Mr. O also says that choosing a zero-energy house has made him think more about the global environment than he does now.

Mr. Sasaki says that there are many things that are commonplace in other countries that are not in Japanese housing. In this respect, we believe that our rental housing is convincing enough for foreign residents to live in. The day may soon come when the concept of enriching one’s life through housing and choosing a lean home will become the standard for rental housing!

Left: Mr. Sasaki, Chief of Meiwa Estate Leasing Department, Right: Ms. S and Mr. O who will live in Solar Residence
Thank you for your cooperation for the interview!

Carbon Neutrality” as a 2050 Target

Mr. Kido of R-Design says that in order to achieve the 2050 target of becoming “carbon neutral,” homes that incorporate “solar power generation,” “storage batteries,” “air conditioning,” and “ventilation” are important.

He says that the electricity that cannot be provided by solar power generation is purchased separately, and carbon credits equivalent to the CO2 emissions of that power generation are purchased by Meiwajisho for 10 years to reduce emissions to zero, making the rental housing carbon neutral, which is the Japanese government’s goal by 2050, a reality right now.
Click here to read past articles

Solar Residence rental homes are earth-friendly homes that are a step toward becoming “carbon neutral.” In October 2020, the Japanese government declared its goal of becoming “carbon neutral” by 2050.

Carbon neutral” means that greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced to zero overall. The government aims to achieve zero emissions by “absorbing” or “removing” the same amount of greenhouse gases that would otherwise have been emitted.

Mr. Kido, who was in charge of construction, actually lives with his family in a zero-energy home built by the company. He says he hasn’t had to use a down quilt since he moved in…that’s too amazing! I can’t believe that as the family grows, they have to buy another one, or prepare that one…and they can lighten the cost of household items….

It certainly sounds like it will be a change in the way we live! I would like to hear more about it! If you are interested, please talk to Mr. Kido of R Design or Mr. Sasaki of Meiwajisho!

Cool in summer and warm in winter, the newly built rental “Solar Residence Imagawa” is now fully occupied.

Solar Residence Kitazakae” will be open for new tenants in April. For more details and inquiries, please contact Meiwa Estate Corporation at 0120-948-614 (10:00-18:00, closed on Wednesdays).

For more information, click here.

Solor Residence Kitazakae Room plan
Solor Residence Kitazakae Room plan

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