Japanese Suicide Apartments

It’s no secret that Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. It’s unfortunate, but very true. Just look at Aokigahara, the most popular place in all of Japan to off yourself. It’s tragic, really. Sadly, this year marks the 14th straight year that suicides in Japan have reached over 30,000. While the most popular way to go is by train, many also kill themselves in their own homes which then go on to become the bane of landlords everywhere.

Speaking of trains though, while they are one of Japan’s favorite obsessions, they’re also potential suicide machines. People I know have been warned to not look at oncoming trains because of the possibility that someone might jump in front of them. It’s not exactly something you’d want to witness. I don’t know about you, but I’d be pretty uncomfortable seeing that.

Death has a new face.

Apparently this is more common on the yellow and orange colored lines because they are “happy” colors, which seems quite odd considering, but whatever. Sometimes these lines have straighter rails which allow the trains to reach higher speeds which then in turn make the suicide attempt more likely to succeed, but this article isn’t about trains and this is getting depressing so let’s move on.

The Bachelor Pad of Doom

In Japan, potential buyers must be informed if someone ever committed suicide in the property they’re looking to buy or rent. Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for landlords to move these so called suicide apartments. In most cases they have to significantly reduce the normal asking price. Nine out of ten Japanese agree – these properties aren’t even worth looking at, regardless of how slashed the prices are. Apartments that people killed themselves in are creepy.

Some Japanese people view taking one’s life as brave and heroic. While I can’t really say I agree there, many Japanese people who feel this way also believe the total opposite when it comes to killing yourself in your own home or apartment. They view it as incredibly inconsiderate. They’d rather have you go off to Aokigahara or something and do it there.

While sad to think about, this belief kind of makes sense as many landlords have taken to the habit of passing the losses in sales onto the families of the deceased tenants. They sue the remaining family members for purification rituals, cleaning costs, repairs, and lost rental income. These fees add up fast and quickly amount to ridiculous sums. Some landlords even go so far as to sue for the amount required to totally demolish the building and just build another one in its place.

The situation has gotten so out of hand that the Japan Suicide Survivors Network has asked the ruling Democratic Party of Japan to pass some sort of legislation that would prevent stuff like this from happening, or at least lessen the blow a bit. In one case, a young woman killed herself in her apartment and the landlord showed up during her funeral to demand ¥6 million (~$75,500) so that he could hire a priest to “cleanse” the property. Talk about insensitive. Even worse was that the family was so upset that they didn’t even argue. They just paid up.

“Hello, we’re here to take all of your money.”

In another case, a salaryman killed himself in his apartment and the landlord asked the family to pay ¥2 million (~$25,000) for “repairs” and another ¥5 million (~$63,000) for “estimated future losses due to reduced rent.” The family hired a lawyer, but it didn’t do them much good. They still ended up paying over ¥2 million.

Another landlord demanded ¥120 million (~$1,510,500), saying that the entire building was “cursed” and he would have to completely rebuild it. Yikes. And how do you even prove that a place is cursed anyway? I really wonder how much of these payments are legitimate and how much is just the landlords taking unfair advantage of emotionally distraught families.

But Why?

Photo by Deniszizen

So how can this be legal? Almost all rental agreements state that the tenant must leave the property in the exact same state as it was when the tenant moved in or they will face fees. If you think about it, after a person commits suicide in a rental unit, it becomes, in a way, defective property. This gives landlords an avenue to sue the families for the monetary damages inflicted by the suicide victim.

And why are the Japanese so afraid of suicide apartments? Well like I said, the property becomes defective in the eyes of many Japanese. Plus, just knowing that someone offed themselves in your current home is pretty damn creepy. As you know, Japanese people on the whole can be extremely superstitious and many believe in ghosts, hauntings, and curses.

Just look at all the horror movies that come out of Japan. When’s the last time you saw a Japanese slasher film? Oh, that’s right, never. They even give super low rates on apartments that just happen to be close to a graveyard. The Japanese don’t want anything to do with dead people and their haunting spirits.

I’m pretty sure that other countries give discounts on these sorts of properties as well, but it seems to be to a much greater extent in Japan. The stigma, discounts, and legal actions are all much bigger over there than anywhere else I’ve ever heard of. It’s crazy.

So tell me, would you live in one of these suicide apartments? What if it was really nice and the rent was super cheap? If you found out your current place was a suicide property, how much of a discount would you need to continue living there? Think these landlords should be able to sue these families? Let us know in the comments!

Sites Referenced:
BBC: The stigma of Japan’s ‘suicide apartments’
The Japan Times: Landlords getting tough with families of suicides

  • http://www.facebook.com/yucchan Yulia Smi

    could be cool :P if its a nice apartment and the rent is on the cheaper side i wouldn’t mind it being hunted and near a cemetery. plus, you have someone to talk to when you get lonely :D

  • John

    Yeah, it kind of sucks :(

  • bec

    I’m very much so an atheist so living in an ex-suicide apartment would be fine by me….especially if it’s cheap… Eeeek.

  • Necrojesta

    I know how to save money if I ever need an apartment over there, surprisingly helpful post.

  • Dave Terhune

    Suicide apartment with a graveyard view? Awesome! When can I move in?

  • Emily Howell

    I thought thats why apartments over there have like, a huuuuuge deposit for everything from eviction, damage, and onwards?

  • http://mistersanity.blogspot.com Jonadab

    > potential buyers must be informed if someone

    > ever committed suicide in the property

    Well, there’s your problem, right there. If you go out of your way to warn people, “Oh, by the way, I’m required to tell you, this apartment you’re looking at is cursed becasue a person COMMITTED CREEPY SUICIDE HERE.”, of course that’s going to weird people out. I can see requiring them to tell the truth about it if the prospective buyer _asks_, but requiring them to tell you even if you don’t ask about it is just plain dumb. If people weren’t concerned about it before, now they will be.

    On the other hand, maybe the landlords are failing to capitalize on a business opportunity here. They should advertise the place as haunted because of the suicide, maybe put in some hidden sound equipment that occasionally produces weird noises at random intervals, make some exotic stains on the walls that only show up in dim lighting, and charge admission by the hour for “ghost watching”, or maybe let groups rent it out for an entire night (or weekend, even) for tests of bravery, creepy parties, seances, initiation rituals, or whatnot. Distribute brochures to the guests detailing in lurid prose the morbid story of how a sad life became a disturbing death. Provide digital video camera equipment with special lens filters, maybe install some infra-red strobe lighting that makes the videos all weird, and encourage guests to post videos of their ghost-watching experiences on your website. Pay a next-door neighbor on the sly to let out a blood-curling scream once a night. Ham it up.

  • Se

    Some chinese hotels skip having a room numbered “four” because of the phonetic similarity with ‘death’. I think this suing the grieving families is outright ridiculous and the government needs to pass legislation. I understand superstition + traditional familial obligation, but perhaps i think the owners should be able to lay claims with a government agency for these sorts of things; not with the family. And legally…the family isn’t on the lease….so how does that work? Maybe the fact that the Japanese law system is very, very far from perfect (a.k.a. corrupt) helps by setting up these wacky precedents.

  • Chester

    Exactly!! The landlord ALREADY has your deposit against damage. And they keep that deposit for any little thing – it’s basically understood here that, if you have an apartment, you aren’t getting your deposit back. It is gone, and there is nothing you can do about it.

    On top of that, it’s typical for a landlord to demand a month’s rent before you move in. Note that it’s not “in advance.” It’s just a month’s rent. You literally get nothing in return for that. It doesn’t go towards anything – it’s just a gratuity that your landlord demands of you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    Think about that: if your rent is 100,000 yen (1,000 dollars), you pay your landlord 1,000 dollars before you move in. It doesn’t go towards anything; it isn’t credited to your account. You just hand it over for his beer money. So these landlords ALREADY have piles of your money before you even move in. And they STILL go after your family after you kill yourself?

    Again, Japan is a great country, but their morality is centered on what is appropriate, not what is good. So a landlord demanding money from you is seen as perfectly fine – they’re the landlord, so they’re in that position. I’ve heard people say that, “Oh, bullying a child is just natural – he’s weak after all.” People love to talk about how peaceful Japan is, but this right here is indicative of Japan’s underlying brutality, and survival-of-the-fittest moral code.

  • luscher

    hate to ask about such a sad topic, but can anyone tell me the name of the park where people go to commit suicide ? i’ve wanted to research it, but did not get the name. it seemed to be near the base of Mt. Fuji. the local officials do a sweep every year to pick up human remains, campsite debris, remove ropes from the trees (like leaving breadcrumb trails – apparently getting turned around is easy due to foliage density), tow cars abandoned in the visitor parking area, and so on

    thank you

  • None

    I would be okay with living in an apartment as long as it’s in good condition. A friend in Japan was considering of getting an apartment in down town. The one he found for cheap was where a suicide had happened before. Though when he went to check the place, he said he could still smell the blood. The person who commited suicide stabbed himself multiple times and wasn’t found until the blood reached outside the door. They did their best to renovate the place and get rid of the smell, but they would need to work more on it if they want someone to live there.

  • Li

    Of course I’d take advantage of it. During my house shopping, it was never mentioned if someone died in any of the apartments I looked at though. I think they figure most gaijin is not aware of that rule or care even, and like the parents of the deceased, takes advantage…

  • Sondra

    I would be too scared and paranoid if I lived in one of these suicide apartments…

  • luscher

    Brittney, if you are cursed with a (post-operative) semi-colon you are guaranteed to have a great many dashes before you die …

    (my initial assumption was a way to avoid curse detection)

  • http://www.facebook.com/SaraAlgeriaBarca Sara Barça Para Siempre

    Although I’m a bit supersticious,, but I would take the risk and try living in a suicide appartment if the price is good,,, It may sounds weird for some people, but I believe that if I would believe in evil spirits It would b really helpfull to believe in the power of something/one greater than it (in my case I start thinking of the power of God when I get scared sometimes,, and I realy feel relieved after a while) :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/albert.martino.3 Albert Martino

    i have lived in a house in which murder had been committed. it didn’t bother me one bit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/albert.martino.3 Albert Martino

    when a ghost comes visiting during the night don’t complain here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/albert.martino.3 Albert Martino

    i hope she is not still in the apartment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/albert.martino.3 Albert Martino

    i can’t imagine what blood smells like. please enlighten us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/albert.martino.3 Albert Martino

    its better you don’t know the location otherwise we might find you hanging out there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/albert.martino.3 Albert Martino

    kill the landlord. leave the body in the apartment or house. fix them good.

  • luscher

    ”hanging out there” — unintentional double entendre ?

    alternative attempts at humor include, but are not limited to, “do you need a car that badly ?” “do you collect human bones to sell to hospitals or medical colleges ?” and “is this a ‘salmon swimming back upstream’ kind of situation ?”

    in any event, don’t bother volunteering to help at a suicide hotline

  • http://twitter.com/jamieism Jamie Lynn Lano

    The real question is, where can I find the list of super-nice but dirt cheap suicide apartment rentals so that I can move in?

  • Guest

    I a

  • Sophie

    I would. And I would sit in my suicide apartment while watching my Japanese Horror flick.

  • http://about.me/suicide_blond suicide_blond

    I’m from the south — I’ve never lived anywhere that didnt claim to be haunted — so doubt it would bother me at all … the more “spirits” the merrier

  • http://twitter.com/Kerensa Kerensa

    My friend who committed suicide? Of course not. They cremated her at the morgue.

  • Raymund Hensley

    What if it was really nice and the rent was super cheap? To live in Japan? Sign me up.

  • Y.

    I’d live in a suicidal apartment. I’d feel more sad than scared.
    I just can’t believe someone would demand such a thing from a morning family…

    I did live with a woman who was very superstitious, and who’d get her buildings (she opened many stores) blessed upon opening them. She was terrified of ghosts, and once stated, very seriously that if anyone ever died in one of her stores, she’d sell it in a heartbeat.

  • Y.


  • Lucia

    Definitely. Being from another country, It would be highly difficult to find a place to live there. If I were to live there for any amount of time, I’d consider this as a more affordable/viable option. I have lived in an apartment here where a lady killed herself by leaving an oven on or something to that effect. Honestly? I didn’t think about it nor was I uncomfortable either. I guess it just takes a certain type of person to not view this as a “Creepy, Scary, Uncomfortable” living situation.

    Also, Suing the family is like whipping a dead horse to get him to run a little farther. I think its incredibly insensitive and bordering on inhuman. No wonder suicide is so big, People aren’t even being viewed as human. They’re being viewed as productivity robots or inconveniences. =/

  • Wendybird

    Ghosts are allergic to me… no seriously. I’ve been in situations with other people who were experiencing supernatural activity, and I neither saw nor felt anything from it, other than my friend being weird and freaking out on me. I lived across the street from a cemetery as a teen and I found it a lovely quiet place to enjoy nature, in spite of the unmarked graves and purported murder victims secretly buried there. Plus I’m a frugal zealot, I even buy discount meat, I would be all over those apartments.

  • Jnax

    I am thinking about taking some time off to visit japan, these haunted places if they are cheap i am up for it. I am currently living in a haunted house per say. I have some intresting experinces including a dream:

    there is a corner in the room where there is kinda these bad vibes that flows out of it. So in the dream i kinda moved like a spider from my bed. jumped onto the floor and crawled my head was about 5 inches above the floor while i crawled to the corner the vibes where radiating from. but i wasn’t scared. i just thought it was cool and let myself go too see what my body would do.

    After that experince i decided to check if i could someone communicate( As i don’t belive in something i can’t see in physical form). i want to know if something is actually there or if it was just a dream. i threw some ash on the floor and told the ghost to write hes name. I was stading there filming with a phone.(Nothing happend) I still don’t belive in ghots.

    Another experince i felt like (lets call it my soul) was out of my body. i flew out of the room and had a confrontation with a transparent man who was starring murderously at me in another room(not saying anything) then my soul just accelerated away in fear. I wake up in my bed. When i am writing now i am thinking about how much of a wuss my soul must be. i don’t fucking hide from these creatures if they are even there. I would punch that fucker in the face. So if i just got fragmented its cool.

    My emotonal mind is convinced. to bad i only belive in the physical. If i can’t punch it, it isnt real to me.

  • jnax

    lol that was fast, i thought that was good story. why delete it?

  • usvietnamvet

    I don’t fear the dead. I’ve lived in places where unexplained things have happened but I don’t believe the dead can hurt you.

  • usvietnamvet

    Most Japanese are not atheists they are non religious, quite a different thing.

  • usvietnamvet

    We have the same laws in the US. Most people don’t care or they have the home “purified” by saging it. Ghosts can’t be too powerful if an herb can drive them out.

  • usvietnamvet

    Apparently they’re taking lessons from the bankers and financiers here in the US.

  • usvietnamvet

    These things only happen because people allow them to happen. If some landlord did that to some Jewish or Italian mother she’d slap him silly. He’s be lucky if he didn’t fly into next Tuesday. Actually I think most American mothers would smack him. American women who have lost a loved one are not to be messed with.

  • usvietnamvet

    Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood home in Ohio is for sale for $295000. A bit high I think, especially given the history as he committed his first murder there.