Nov 23, 2012

Resident Interview: The Benton’s (Hiroo)

Jeff Benton and his family of four relocated to Hiroo, coming from Idaho. When they got here they knew little of what to expect, but did know what they wanted. Find out more about Jeff’s experiences in the interview below.

Was it your first time coming to Japan when you moved here, or had you been here before?

It was my first time when I came in April 2009, and I actually met Ichi from KEN on that trip.

And what was your impression of Japan and Tokyo before coming here?

I didn’t really know much about Tokyo, I just knew it was one of the largest cities in the world, so I was very excited to come. I was expecting it to be very crowded, and from the American point of view was expecting to exclusively eat fish. We never dreamed that Tokyo would be this international city with cuisine from everywhere and some of the best in the world. We fell in love instantly.

That’s great that it worked out so well. So what was it that brought you to Japan?

I got a call one day asking me if I’d be interested in coming to Tokyo. Originally they asked us to come for 3 years, but we liked it so much we decided to extended it to 5! When the time comes leaving Tokyo and going back to Idaho will definitely be a culture shock going the other way.

After moving here did your impression of Japan change?

I’ve really come to respect the Japanese culture and how friendly everyone is. Living through the earthquake it was especially impressive to see how communities came together as a group and made sure that everyone was taken care of. To be honest I really wasn’t scared because everyone was so kind and didn’t want to leave. In the end though I left for 5 days, because my family was already in the USA for spring break and my son begged me to come to the USA too as he was worried from watching the news.

That’s great that the hard times could be a bonding experience. So what was a positive difference between Idaho & Tokyo?

Well I think everything is different between Idaho & Tokyo! Since I’m kind of a “Foodie” though I just can’t get over the food culture in Japan how amazing it is. Now going back to the USA is always a food culture shock, because the quality and variety just doesn’t exist. From the food, to the service, to everything there are too many positive differences to list.

You are definitely right, from the convenience stores on up the quality is amazing!

Oh of course! We love the convenience stores! Do you know they have the best cheese cake? You would never consider going to a convenience store for Cheese Cake in the USA!

You are exactly right. On another note, how were you introduced to KEN?

They are one of the preferred providers for IBM. We were actually introduced to 5 suppliers and KEN was our favorite hands down. Especially because of our connection with Ichi, our realtor, and how he was always looking for what was best for us. Some of the other companies seemed to be more focused on placing us in a building they owned, or acting in their own benefit. Ichi really stood out because of his English, a great sense of humor, and how well he listened to our needs.

What was it about this apartment then that made you pick it?

I think we got to Japan on a Sunday and had an agenda for Monday through Friday going from 7:30am-7:00pm looking at apartment after apartment. For the first 4 days we really found nothing. Ichi had been trying to show us this place up to that point, but the schedule hadn’t worked with the owner. Then on the last day Ichi brought us here and we knew it was the place.

A couple of the reasons were that it’s a privately owned building, not in a huge high rise, has a large outdoor patio, a nice American style kitchen with oven, and of course it all fit within our budget.

So was there any place else that had gotten your attention?

Well before coming to Japan we had found a place online that we thought was great and were very excited about it. When we got here though and showed it to Ichi shared with us that he thought it might not be a good fit.

In hindsight he was absolutely right, it was an area with little to no English and would have been a hard area to adjust to.

And what was it about Hiroo that you liked?

Well Ichi gave it a high recommendation, and we were also trying to find someplace located on the ASIJ school bus line, which couldn’t be any better with the stop being right across the street. We’d considered Roppongi, but it’s all highrises and concrete, whereas Hiroo is greener and felt much more like a neighborhood.

To be honest, when we moved here I really didn’t realize just how much of a nice area it is with a great central location. I really walk almost everywhere from here and rarely take the train when it isn’t necessary.

So how has your relationship with KEN & Ichi since moving in?

I don’t have any complaints about either. Talk about being responsive! I can send an email to tenant support and have a response within an hour. Even something as small as a light bulb that I had trouble finding they had a new one to me within a day.

They also go beyond helping with personal non-rent related matters. If  I have a paper that I need help translating and can’t find a friend to help Ichi and Ken really are there for me.

You said you’d already recommended Ken to friends, what other advice would you give?

Just be honest and make it known what you wan when looking for an apartment, while at the same time being understanding of the local culture and having realistic expectations.

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