Although I appreciate I sit among the privileged ones who get access to relocation and housing agencies, here is my experience around the process. There is a lot of choice in agencies, and offers.
If you are on a Japanese budget, chances are you will need to commute for 1h30 to 2h every morning to work and come from further suburbs. Everyone gets it and this is what creates the jammed metros that everyone sees in the press. If you are luckier, you get an apartment in town and there you have the choice between Japanese type (with tatami room) or western style.
Even though, I went for western style, you still get the fish oven in the kitchen, I love it. It is a drawer under the cooking table, you must add water and then grill your fish there. Japanese don’t use much ovens and this is the standard. I get both which is great. You also get a shower room separate for the actual room by a window and in there you get the shower and a bathtub. Bath is to relax, shower is to clean up. All bathtubs come equipped with a wall panel where you choose the temperature for your bath and how much you want it to fill up. Then, the panel allows you to reheat if needed. Most of them get covered and you may use the bath the next with the reheat function or for your children. You then get the same panel in the kitchen so you can prepare your bath while you are cooking, I just need to get used to tapping the bathtub beforehand otherwise you get the leaking bucket syndrome…. And no bath
Back to the agency, part of their service is to take you around visiting, but also arranging the negotiation, setting the price and features if requested. You typically negotiate down from the published price. Then they place an offer, handle the deposit and contracting and contract utilities on your behalf.
May I recommend the one I used as I found they were friendly, efficient with a great understanding of the western expections – http://www.realestate-tokyo.com/ – so thank you Alex!!
Where I live, I am fortunate enough that the building is equipped with fibre and the internet comes for free as part of the service. So really, this is being treated as a queen, to my standards.
Needless to say that all of this comes at a price. However, one thing to note is that Japan is facing a space challenge but also a workforce issue as the population is decreasing rapidly. Therefore, the government has set a range of facilities for corporations to contract foreigners and they provide subsides for housing so that really helped me
Now, one tip when you have the option to ship your personal belongings, no matter what, beware of the Japanese apartment configuration, most of our western furniture simply don’t fit in and take too much space. Take measurements, have a close look, double check