Sometimes we ask a resident to be a house manager of our sharehouse. A house manager’s job takes responsibility for cleaning up each room, controlling home fixtures, and providing guidance for house viewing, but there is also a different kind of fun than living as a regular resident.
However, it’s hard to imagine what kind of job actually a house manager does.
So, in this article, we interviewed Karin, a house manager in one of our sharehouses in Kumamoto.
Karin used to live in our sharehouse in Kokufu and now is a house manager in Honjo.
We interviewed her about the most strong memory of communal life and what she aims for as a house manager.
Please enjoy the article if you are interested in sharehouse life or a house manager job.
I enjoyed my dormitory life like a sharehouse, and that’s why I moved into Hidamari
– First, please introduce yourself.
I am Karin, and a house manager at Sharehouse Hidamari Honjo in Kumamoto now.
Before living in the sharehouse, I worked as an employee of a semiconductor manufacturer in Kumamoto for about ten years.
During that time, I lived in Yamaguchi for five years due to a job transfer, where I experienced dormitory life with my seniors at the manufacturer.
In fact, that dormitory life was my first time living with others. It’s connected to my current sharehouse life. We used to go out together with others on our days off and share meals. Even though it was a manufacturer’s dormitory, it was like a sharehouse and a lot of fun.
– Did you know a sharehouse itself? Also, please tell us how you got to know about Hidamari.
Actually, I didn’t know a sharehouse itself and even had never heard of Hidamari.
But, I had a mutual friend with Rinta-san, the representative of Hidamari, who invited me to Hidamari’s second-anniversary party. I went to the party, and that is how I got to know about Hidamari.
Since I didn’t know about a sharehouse itself, I remember that I was surprised there was a place where various people could get together in Kumamoto.
I am not the type of person who actively goes to places where people gather. But, since I have experience living with my seniors in Yamaguchi, I had a good image of a sharehouse, like, “Probably it would be like dormitory life.”
After the second-anniversary party, there was an after-party, and I visited the sharehouse in Honjo, where I live as a house manager now.
I remember feeling comfortable because the people who lived in the sharehouse in Honjo at the time talked to me casually, and moreover, because it was a house, some of them were dressed like they were after taking a bath. I was particularly interested in one woman who told me that she was going to work in Vietnam and was excited about her future.
Since the atmosphere of Honjo at that time was really great and impressive, I even still remember it.
I began to think that a sharehouse might be a good idea because of the atmosphere of Honjo and the dormitory life in Yamaguchi. Then, when I quit my job, I started living in a Hidamari’s sharehouse in Kokufu.
– You told me you lived alone before you started living in a sharehouse in Kokufu. What actually made you decide to live in a sharehouse?
To be honest, when I quit my job, I casually felt it would be fun to stop living alone and live with others.
Since a sharehouse comes with home appliances and furniture, there is nothing to prepare. I liked the lightness of it, too.
Found international exchange fascinating after living in Sharehouse Hidamari Honjo
– First, you lived in the sharehouse in Kokufu, then the one in Honjo after that?
Yes. I used to run a guest house through Airbnb in Kukufu at that time and was a concierge for guests. It’s not run anymore, though. But, Honjo was close to the guest house, and it was easy for me to work, so that’s why I moved to Honjo from Kokufu.
Many international students and other people from overseas lived in the sharehouse of Honjo. I was also impressed by the global nature, with people from various countries, including European countries such as the Netherlands and Africa.
Especially since the living room and the dining space were close in the sharehouse of Honjo, we often talked about food, like, “What are you cooking?” “What are you eating?”
What I felt was that although everyone loves Japan, they like their own country’s food the best.
I had the impression that people valued their own country the most when it came to food. That is why there were seasonings and ingredients from many different countries in the kitchen and refrigerator.
– It seems everyone cherishes food they have been eating since they were born.
I also keep in touch with people I have become friends with through the operation of the guest house and living in the sharehouse, such as visiting their home countries before the Corona epidemic. As of 2020, it’s still difficult to travel overseas, but I still keep in touch with them.
I think I would not have had this opportunity for international exchange if I had kept working at the manufacturer. You cannot meet people from overseas if you don’t go travel overseas. and now it’s not easy to go abroad as it used to be due to the Corona epidemic. When I think about it, the international exchange at the sharehouse was a tremendously valuable experience.
The people I lived with also developed an interest in foreign countries through communal living, and I felt that the interaction in daily life was good.
The sharehouse in Honjo itself is like a grandma’s house, but the inside is global. I enjoyed being in the usual but extraordinary situation.
The 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes happened while I was living in the sharehouse. What I felt during the evacuation with my share mates
– Are there any events that had a big impact on your sharehouse life?
The 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes. I lived as an evacuee with my share mates.
– It was a very hard time for us.
At that time, five residents lived in the sharehouse of Kokufu. We all evacuated to an elementary school near the sharehouse for two ~ three weeks after the earthquake. Probably 200 ~ 300 people lived in the elementary school.
Gas and water were cut off, and I could not take a bath. I remember I cried from anxiety because it was my first time in that situation.
– Convenience stores and supermarkets were out of service, and there were few supplies.
Aid was limited at first, we all had to split up to scavenge food, gather information and share the locations of open hot springs, and we got by through teamwork.
The earthquake was unexpected, and there were several aftershocks at the time, so I was constantly anxious.
But, because I was not alone but with several share mates, we could exchange information, and it was reassuring. If it had been just me, I would have been lonely and anxious, not knowing what to do, and I don’t think I would have made it through.
We had access to electricity, so we grilled eels left in the refrigerator together on a hot plate. I can talk about it now in an amusing way, but I think I was able to enjoy the difficult situation because we were all together.
– It strengthened unity.
I think you may or may not experience a disaster once in your lifetime, but I learned a lot about how to help each other with people outside of my family.
During that time, we all exchanged information, did what we could to help each other rebuild, and worked together to return to a normal life. I don’t think I will have that kind of experience in the future.
I returned to the sharehouse just as the aftershocks were calming down and the infrastructure was beginning to recover, but after that, we all began to discuss the disaster together.
For example, when a typhoon was about to hit, I sometimes guided children who had no shelter to my parents’ house. Although no notable disasters have occurred in Kumamoto recently, after experiencing the Kumamoto earthquake, we are always prepared for any eventuality.
I mentioned the earthquake as a memorable event because of its impact, but I feel it is important in communal living.
A sharehouse can welcome any kind of people. We complement each other, and I, as a house manager, will keep the balance
– So, you have lived with probably more than ten people in the sharehouse in Honjo and Kokufu so far. From your experience, what kind of people would you want to have in a Hidamari’s sharehouse in the future?
I used to think people who can clean up and enjoy interaction with people would be better before I started living in the sharehouse, but now it has changed.
If they are not good at communicating with people, that’s fine. Of course, if they are good at it, that would be appreciated, but people who are not good at communication would make a good balance. So, I don’t have any specific preferences.
– Was there any event to change your mind?
Well, rather than there was an event, but more like I felt it’s hard to be perfect since this is a home through my years in the sharehouse. I think everyone gets tired if we decide specific regulations and make them bound by rules.
Especially, I feel it would be more relaxing if they could be who they are since they would be tired when they get back home after work. To speak of extremes, I think we don’t need strict rules that much.
– Interesting. Generally speaking, it is said that there should be rules in a sharehouse. But, there are so many aspects you can’t tell or don’t understand unless you live in a sharehouse, even if you tell a lot about a sharehouse through photos and texts on the internet. One of them is, as you said, there is no need for rules.
I felt that after I actually started living in a sharehouse. For example, in a sharehouse that is a detached house, you will live with people you have never met before in an atmosphere similar to a family/parents’ home.
I am so used to this, but to take it to the extreme, as long as you can follow a level of common sense such as “not entering someone’s room without permission,” even if there is no key to the private room, you should be fine.
I think gender, sex, nationality, and one’s sense of values don’t matter. We trust each other as much as we can, and of course, decide necessary things rather than making strict rules. In that sense, I prefer more freedom or a home that is easy to live.
Furthermore, I hope that I, as a house manager, can cover residents’ difficulties.
There are many things you cannot understand unless you live in a sharehouse. The important thing is to tell clearly
– It’s similar to what we just talked about, but it’s necessary to separate “respect others” and “be considerate” depending on the situation. We don’t want to be too considerate in our life together and not be able to say what we think.
Indeed. Especially in terms of communication, at the core, I want people to say what they think. It’s not being considerate, if people want to say something, I want them to tell in words.
I understand that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses and that there are many people who are not good at telling things. But, if you are too considerate and say things indirectly, you may be surprised how little you can actually tell, and others remain unaware of it.
That’s why I think it(s important to tell what you think clearly.
– It is important to create an environment where we can tell things directly in peace, such as not getting into a fight if we say something directly.
I think the process of exchanging opinions is important because some things can only be understood through conversation.
As I said before, I don’t like a place where many people get together, and first of all, I’m not good at socializing.
This is related to my past experience: I had a time when I didn’t go to school much due to the need to be cooperative.
When I told my opinions in a group or school, sometimes others kinda stepped back or didn’t accept. I don’t like that kind of atmosphere/situation, and there was a stubborn part of me that didn’t want to “bend” my opinions because they reflected my own ideas.
Other than that, everyone else has to wear the same uniform to school, and cooperation is important. But I’m not good at those places, and I don’t want it to be the norm for everyone to be aligned.
Everyone should be able to wear what they want and to say whatever they want to say.
I have always thought it important to communicate because of my experience at that time, and I hope residents would feel the same way if they have the same feeling.
Especially if residents fight against others in a sharehouse, it’s impossible to keep a distance like friends and a partner.
Because it is a sharehouse, it is also an environment where we can talk and make up a little more before going to bed. That’s why we want it to be a place where you can easily express your opinions and thoughts without stress.
– It is different to imposing one’s own righteousness because it is only within oneself. But it is also important to say what you think is right while understanding what you perceive to be right and holding it as your own axis. If you don’t continue to be aware of it as a habit, you may forget about it.
Indeed. You end up being used to it. Sometimes I think I adjusted myself to fit in as an adult.
I think there is an atmosphere, especially in companies, where it is not acceptable to directly express one’s opinions to seniors.
However, age has nothing to do with opinions to make things better.
I don’t want residents to worry about their age in a sharehouse though people from various generations live in a sharehouse.
If it is in the sharehouse in Honjo, I am the type of person who thinks it is more important to express my opinion, so much so that I have been told that I have “no common sense” when it comes to dealing with people.
Also, there are many things you realize through conversations in a sharehouse.
I am happier and realize things when people communicate clearly, so I think it is important for everyone to express their opinions equally.
I want to enjoy the time with people who are going to live in a sharehouse
– What kind of days do you want to spend with people who is going to live in a sharehouse?
Members who live together in a sharehouse are people whose timing is just matched. Within the “line” of life, we are connected by the “point” of moving into a sharehouse.
I want to get to know the people who come in at that time better and make memories with them.
It is not necessary to live in a sharehouse forever after you enter once. We may not live together again next year, and living in a sharehouse will become a memory if you move out.
So, I want residents to cherish their time in a sharehouse and just be who they are.
The people I used to live with are family rather than a friend. It is rare to live with friends, much less experience living with strangers.
You end up living with people you don’t expect, and that’s why you can learn so much. I hope you enjoy the time and moment.
– Thank you so much, Karin!
Summary: Karin wants to create a space for freedom of speech for residents who share the “point” of life
Japanese people are too considerate, and because they have national traits of distinguishing between their private opinion and public stance, it is easy for them to be cautious and patient in communal living, even in a sharehouse.
However, it would be a disaster if we put up with it and make it difficult to live in a sharehouse. It will be difficult to live in a sharehouse where you are supposed to feel at ease.
Because of the relationship that is established and developed through a sharehouse, Karis wants to make it a place where people can say what they think to each other. This interview made us feel that this kind of communication will further build a close relationship, like a family.
Hidamari Sharehouse Honjo, where Karin works as a house manager, is currently looking for residents.
If you are interested, please check it out here.