Posts Tagged ‘rental’

Plenty of room for passions to grow

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Though Japan is a nation of passionate hobbyists, it’s also a country in which space is at a premium. This poses a dilemma for otaku who spend years amassing huge toy collections, gearheads who want to work on their greasy motors, or arty types who want room in which to slap around some paint without ruining the tatami. Rather than renting out a cheap apartment or storage space, a new solution has been supplied by Reise Hobby, a company that offers versatile units for hobbyists to rent.

Founded in 2006 as a subsidiary of Reise Box storage company, Reise Hobby now own 30 buildings in Kanto and Kansai that house more than 200 “loft” or “maisonette type” spaces. Each space has two floors with private access via a garage door; the lower garage area serves as a workspace, while the upper area can be used as a storage space. This style has proved extremely popular, according to Nikkei Trendy: When the company opened up their new Tama Center in December 2011, half the units were snapped up on the first day they were first offered for sale.

Though users are generally male, the kinds of hobbies they pursue are diverse, ranging from those who want to store bikes or cars to artistic types to avid collectors. Some people rent units just to have a private space of their own, sort of like a secret club house. Units do not come cheap: A 41-sq.-meter unit at their Tama Center, for instance, costs ¥84,000 a month. However, on the plus side, these spaces are well-equipped with toilet, water supply, air conditioner, 50 kw electricity supply a month, electrical outlets and free Internet access. Add to this the freedom to customize the space as you please and these units look increasingly attractive.

If the rental fee still seems steep,  there are places where you can rent time in a shared space. The increased interest in railways, for example, has resulted in a number of businesses offering track rental time on train dioramas. Models IMON, for instance, offer track time in locations across Tokyo, in Harajuku, their rental layout costs¥2,100 for just under two hours and rental of trains comes extra. Since 2010, the Akihabra Washington Hotel even has a special room for densha otaku (train geeks) who can bring along their own trains and whizz them round a diorama of Akihabara for a rather pricy ¥23,000 a night.

The rent-a-space entrepreneurs are also amateur seamstresses. As we mentioned a few years back, there’s been a surge of interest in “remake” fashion (restyling second-hand clothes) and some stores like Sewing Machine Cafe & Lounge Nico, which opened in Setagaya in September 2011, have caught on to this and are offering sewing machine time for budding clothes designers for a small fee.

For some, hiring a space in which to practice their craft becomes the step from being merely an enthusiast to becoming a full-fledged professional. In our next post, we’ll take a look at how new kinds of shared rental spaces are cutting down costs and helping budding entrepreneurs build connections.

More ways to try before you buy

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

In the market for ... ? Ocarina lets potential buyers road-test appliances.

Not sure if you need a fancy single-serve coffee maker in your kitchen or if a Roomba scooting around would freak out the dog? Now you can try out expensive home appliances before buying them at Ocarina Rental. Products include the vacuuming robot Roomba, Dyson’s bladeless fan and Gopan, the briskly selling breadmaker that uses rice instead of flour.

The basic rental period is five days and prices range from about ¥2,000 to ¥5,000. Rental can be extended for as long as two months. There is no deposit, but unlike most online shopping in Japan, the only way to pay is by credit card. The delivery driver checks your ID with your first delivery.

Users say they like the service not only to see if, say, the homemade bread is good and easy to make but also to see how well the breadmaker will fit on their kitchen counter. One commenter on the site said she had rented the breadmaker to see if the sound it makes grinding up the rice would be too noisy for a small apartment.

It’s not all cooking and cleaning — there are a few tech toys on the takeout menu, too. The Parrot quadrocopter, a remote-control styrofoam hovercraft piloted by iPhone or iPad, is coming soon. Eyeclops night-vision goggles will also be available later this month, too.

While detailed specs for all products are listed on the site, one thing not listed is the purchase price. The fact that some products can be purchased is buried in the FAQs. The focus is on the trying, not the buying.

Continue reading about trying before you buy →

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