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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Renting Or Buying A Ghost Home

Japan has a secret (or maybe not-so-secret) love affair with ghosts and ghouls and demons et al.

And by that, I mean that Japanese society seems to love stories about the supernatural. Heck, if you have never seen Ringu (The Ring) movie, watch it and be prepared to have the crap scared out of you.Seriously - it is one creepy flick.

But… just because Japan loves the scary stories, it doesn’t mean Japanese people want to live the scary life.

Jiko bukken (事故物件) are the real estate properties where an occupant has died, whether it be  murder or suicide or simple neglect (they died and no one realized for days or weeks) … and I assume also by some sort of demonic entity.

It actually means "stigmatized property".

Actually, here's a list of what a jiko bukken property consists of (I took it from the Tokyo Cheapo website - HERE:
  • A property where a murder, suicide or a natural death occurred (including cases where the body wasn’t found for a while); 
  • A property near criminal gangs;
  • A property constructed on top of a well;
  • A property by a waste treatment facility, or a graveyard/crematorium;
  • A property made by, or on ground once owned by, a cult;
  • A property with a history of fire, flooding or other things that caused death or injury (asbestos poisoning, gas leaks etc);
  • A property with a complicated history regarding ownership, as shown in the registry listings— multiple owners over a short period of time inherently means something amiss with the property.
Thanks Tokyo Cheapo!
Okay, back to me. In Japan, the jiko bukken properties are actually recognized by Japanese law, meaning that any real estate agent attempting to unload a murder house, must fully explain the the would-be buyer or renter if someone had previously died in the place. It really is against the law to conceal such information to a would-be consumer.

It’s done to avoid any surprises when a dripping wet teenager ghost girl comes crawling out from your television set in an attempt to see what sort of snack you are having.

But not to worry… if you are a property rental agent… you only have to warn a would-be renter who is the first person after an “incident”.

For example… if someone has died in a house, let’s say by choking on mochi, that glutenous, tasty, but deadly dangerous rice ball, and if Client A rents the place, and then decides after a few months that they want to move out, the real estate agent does NOT have to tell you about the incident, when you apply.

So yeah… let’s suppose Family A is living in a murder house with its own trans-dimensional portal in the kitchen…

They move out after a while having decided that it’s way easier to dump garbage through the portal to another dimension, than to have to pack up and move again… besides… the price was right!

So… after the father gets transferred to a new town with a new nuclear power generating facility, another family (Family B) moves in.

They don’t have to be told a thing about the murder house or even the trans-dimensional portal.

However, IF Family A, after learning about the murder house decides to move in any way, and is then themselves murdered by trans-dimensional beings pissed off at all of the garbage being tossed into their universe, the real estate agent would have to warn the next potential buyers about the death.

But murderous ghosts aside, for those looking to save a few yen on housing the jiko bukken properties provide fiscal relief.

For those who are looking to rent an apartment, a jiko bukken property can save the renter as much as half the rent money.

Besides… with Japan’s population growing increasingly older, there’s going to be more and more homes in which someone has died… which could be bad news for real estate agents, but good news for consumers.

Two people that I know of—my mother and her father (my grandfather) passed away in my current house. While there have been no supernatural incidents that I am aware of, if I was in Japan with this place, I would have to disclose the information to the real estate agent - even though the deaths were over 20 years ago - so they could warn any one wanting to rent or purchase my house.

But despite the cost savings, Japanese people really don’t seem to want to move into any place where someone has died in it previously.

I’m not talking about an apartment where a family was hacked to death by a crazed tattooed guy who simply wanted the money owed him where the blood won’t come away from the walls, or even where the screams still echo in air years later… no… Japanese people simply don’t care to live where death has been.

Look… even though the word for death is “shi” (死)… and the word for four is “shi” (四)… each having it’s own unique “Chinese-style” kanji symbol… because it sounds exactly the same, many Japanese people will say “yon” in stead of “shi” when describing the number four.

Plus… in Japan (China, too - because it uses the same characters), no one wants to live anywhere where the number four is part of the address… though what the heck… some do.

I wonder if they get a break on their purchase/rental price?

For example, in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken where I lived for three-plus years in Japan, I lived on the third floor of a family condo. Did the people on the fourth floor care that regardless if it was Floor shi or Floor yon, it was still Floor sounds-like-death.

Westerners have their own fear of the number 13, which is why it is rare to find an apartment building or office building littered with Floor 13… skipping the offensive number for the number 14… but I wonder… don’t the people on Floor 14 know they are actually on Floor 13?

Back to the house/home where death occurred.

For those brave souls willing to pay half-price or so for a jiko bukken, one does not have to put up with anything supernaturally evil or scary.

No… you can hire a Buddhist priest to come and perform a cleansing ceremony on your place to try and quell any unhappy spirits still residing there, as well as to bless this house.

I suppose such ceremony could also be considered supernatural, but in this case it is supernaturally good.

Japan’s Airbnb, may not have to disclose any sort of “incident”… at least this new housing rental scenario doesn’t seem to be part of the Japanese real estate jiko bukken law…

As usual, caveat emptor… let the buyer beware.

Andrew Joseph
PS: During WWII on the island of Saipan (across the street from Guam), rather than surrender to Allied troops, Japanese soldiers leaped off a cliff to their death while yelling "Banzai!!!" The Saipan people call it Banzai Cliff. The view is spectacular, as you can see in the photo I took when I visited there. Lots of Japanese died here, though I did not hear of any ghosts inhabiting the area. Hey... I actually asked the locals! Wanna use the photo?  Just note my name as photographer and go ahead:

PPS: Banzai, along with being a Japanese battle cry, is also a form of greeting by the Japanese emperor. You can decide which one I mean when I use it.

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