Crazy Japanese Neighbours – What would you do?

Semblance of our resident crazy Japanese neighbour - Do you have one of these?
Semblance of our resident crazy Japanese neighbour.. Do you have one of these?
When in the mansions of Tokyo what do you do when you have a rogue neighbour who you just can not get along with? One that annoys you with their mannerisms, one that complains about your kids, one that gives you the shiroime (white eye) look in the elevator when you try to aisatsu (make small talk), or one that is all of the above (and just plain crazy). This, is what I have. Is it simply time to move? Do you guts it out and pretend it does not exist? Or do you confront the a-hole directly and try to rectify whatever it is that bugs you? Apparently my family gets on his nerves so much, that words such as “korosu-zou!” (I’m going to kill you!) being yelled from the window below has now become commonplace.

The perpetrator – my neighbour of five years – completely freaked me out a few years back by coming to my door and letting rip on me about my toddlers (they were 3 and 1 at the time) and the incessant noise they made. I was in the doorway and it was a very very intense moment as the guys mother (with whom he lives) came to the door to calm him down. The guy is in his mid-late 30′s and clearly something was not right – especially as on this occasion the kids had only been home a few minutes before he was dinging on the intercom. To my recollection we came in (after shopping for dinner), they washed their hands and went to the lounge to play. I was making dinner not far away and the noise was fine. The neighbour complained to the Kanrinin-san (caretaker) and he passed it on to the landlord (or at least to the agency that looks after the property). They came to us and dealt with the situation. The flooring was regulation thickness, we even had a thick carpet on top of most of it. We are not a loud family, and the whole situation did not make much sense. They went down to see the neighbour and came back to report that he suffers from some ailment of some kind. We were not sure but it started to sound like schizophrenia or something kind of “scary” to the uninformed (like us).

We agreed that should there be problems in the future we and he would go through the agent to communicate the issue. Of course we would try our best to keep our children quiet. This failed when on the next occasion the neighbour complained that it was me who was at fault for stomping around the house. As the father of two and wife of one, I had been at particular pains to keep quiet yet somehow my walking around in socks was noisy? Again, it did not make sense.

This type of thing carried on for years, with the occasional outburst from the man downstairs. We would get the call, “byonin ga imasu” (there is a sick person down here) every few months and we would be on high alert for a while to keep the noise down. It was not as if we were even all that noisy but with two small kids playing I can not guarantee that there were not at least some “bangs” and “thuds”. We have the same noise issues with the folks upstairs but we tend to understand, and get over it pretty easily. We have foot steps, knife on cutting boards and early morning alarm clocks but we don’t make any fuss. The noise is so slight that it really would be lame (or weird) to make a fuss.

Cue July 2009 – I was at the office and my wife was at home with our youngest son and three of his girlfriends (and their mummies) from kindergarten. Lucky little tyke, you may think but on this occasion – a warm, humid day – the window was opened and whatever noise those naughty little kids were making travelled south to the byonin downstairs. With no warning the ladies in the living room – three in all – heard an extremely loud and scary “Korosuzou! Kono Osutoraria-jin yarou!” (Going to kill you! F*ckin Aussie!). Needless to say the other ladies and their kids all left in a rush, probably thinking WTF is it with this wacko woman and her Aussie husband? What do they do to make their neighbours so angry? Well, as a matter of fact, ah… nothing, as far as we can tell. A week or so before this particular incident the byounin called the O-ya-son (landlord) and they sent a team around to investigate. They got to the door to find a very quiet household – the kids were playing Wii after all. Generally they are just glued to the TV when doing that. But it was clear that the byonin underneath us was reaching a peak.

He went nuts again just last week during the typhoon. For some reason he was paranoid that my home office (corner room) windows being open would cause major damage to his apartment. He asked the kanrinin-san to visit us, and make us close the windows. My wife explained (as I was on a call) that I had no air-conditioning in the room and there was no water coming in, other than the odd droplet that landed on my desk (with a newspaper strategically placed). The kanrinin understood and didn’t really see the issue.

Next thing – as I had not closed the windows – we had more of the yelling from downstairs. One of the neighbours and friends from upstairs called us to see if everything was okay (as this guy was now legendary in his own right). Being on the council (or whatever you call it) for our mansion they suggested that we call the cops. My wife was quite freaked out at this stage and duly did so.

Within minutes we had a copper asking about the trouble and also the real estate agent. We got some handy advice from the young policeman who was concerned about the potential for this issue to worsen and he went down stairs to talk with our byonin neighbour. He came back later to say that he gave the guy a warning to keep the noise down. Surely the man downstairs felt the irony in this, but we are already looking to move and buy our own place! The guy’s a psycho.

So. What would you do in this situation? We are thinking that after having “I will kill you Aussie!” yelled at our family, our chances at an amicable resolution are pretty low. Especially when you consider that I am not a bloody Australian but a Kiwi. (What an arsehole!) But we think that we need to vacate the premises and make the landlord pay for our new key money and gift money, seeing as we have paid that up so cheerily every 2 years.

Feel free to share your advice, or even better, your “crazy Japanese neighbour” story below in the coments.

17 thoughts on “Crazy Japanese Neighbours – What would you do?”

  1. start sending him gifts of hams and soaps,fruit and stuff like that with wee notes written by your children saying sorry for the noise….wee pictures your kids drew of him ya know ..super cuddly nice stuff…and see what happens

  2. Yes, thought of that thanks. The real estate agent strongly said not to go near any contact, so we are obliging. :-)

  3. I agree with your conclusion. Leave and make the landlord pay for your moving costs. Their shinsa is the one that let a crazy person in the building, it’s their responsibility he’s there causing trouble. I’ve got a similar problem with a crazy lady beneath me and will be moving shortly because of it. She complains that the toilet is too loud, amongst other things. She even had the nerve to file a complaint about me being loud when I was out of the country!
    Doing what you did, cooperating and making it obvious that they’re the trouble maker, not you, is the way to go.

  4. I have a similar problem tho not so near. Sounds like youve done the best you could do and best not make an issue out these things; regradless of culture / language barrier these type of things have a habit of getting blown out of proportion and create a real mess.

    The guy in the building across from me smokes outside his front door twitching and yammering away to himself.

    When Im not there he can be seen”hurling imaginary grandades / baseballs”, “swishes his imaginary baseball bat / sword” or”performs hamlet”…

    Asked some neighbours about why he just doesnt use his balcony, apparently hes not allowed to cos he upsets his neighbours behind him, so he uses his front genkan area.

    Anyone venturing out onto a balcony on our building and it excites him and he starts dancing about, shouting, getting more animated.As a result all folks in my building dont use their balconys.

    I invested in a small seat so im out of vision when smoking on the balcony, but hes there almost 24/7 has a family too, very strange.

    Guess theres fruit loops no matter where you go.Tho would be better if mental health awareness was on the up and people liek him would go seek the medical attention they need.

  5. These bloody kiwis giving us Aussies a bad name……

    While I doubt that it is unlikely to ever rally come to a physical issue just for peace of mind for yourself and family it might be best to move.

    On an aside, if you are planning on staying a while buying a new place is probably a good move, if you choose location well. There are low interest rates, the government is giving incentives on buying new places and lots of buildings are having trouble selling in the current conditions and offering good discounts.

  6. Short of bounding and gagging your kids, which I don’t encourage by the way, I think you did everything you could to not bother your neighbor.

    Also, I agree that after all that and he’s still raising a ruckus, it’s time to move elsewhere.

    Having your landlord pay for your new key money and gift money is sweet icing on the cake!

    If I’ve left with learning anything from this story, it’s that no matter where you go, an asshole is always right behind you (or in this case, below you, haha).

  7. Having been in a similar situation myself that was left too long, I strongly urge you to find another place for the safety of your family.
    When looking at new places make sure you take some gifts and meet the neighbours before settling on anything.
    As TheAndySan said, it is a buyers / renters market out there. You will be able to get a good deal and once you are out of the current place I reckon you will be pleased that you’ve made the move.

  8. Move as soon as you can. The guy is a psycho, and he might hurt your kids. The police won’t do anything until there’s a dead body (and they won’t do much then either).

    This stuff is one of the things I hate about Japan. Nobody will do anything about this guy until he hurts or kills someone. Personally, I’d be tempted to very quietly and convincingly tell him I will kill him if he doesn’t stay away from my family and me. He’ll have a heck of a time getting anyone to believe you said that, and they’ll just think he’s getting even crazier.

    Above all, just move.

  9. Is the landlord owner of the flat or the building? I am guessing the former, but if it’s the later, you have a strong case for damages.

  10. Why don’t you just go downstairs and beat him up ?? – I bet up a wanna-be yakuza guy who was driving slowly in front of me 2 years ago. That’s the only thing they understand and guess what – it works !!! I’m living in Japan’s most beautiful city : Sapporo .

  11. It seems to me that the obvious recourse is civil law. Police can only act if something happens. But if someone threatens to kill you, you can sue them for that. If someone’S being racist against you, you can sue them for racial harassment too. You need an independent witness available to say what’s going on. Either ask for a written statement from your guests, (you can write one up and ask them to sign it,) or invite a close friend to stay with you and witness the events. You can also talk with your other neighbors. They might wonder what’s going on and what they can do about it. Having statements from the people living next to you saying that they don’t know what the fuss is about would help too.

    Then hire a lawyer and provide an official statement of what’s going on. It doesn’t sound like much, but when people see an official piece of paper, they often wake up, get a hold of themselves and thinking where this is going. Civil law isn’t a panacea. It’s expensive and you’re unlikely to make a profit out of it. But it exists because it sometimes it works.

    If he really is crazy, crazy, it might make no impression, or aggravate him. But it will stand as evidence if the police start getting on to you that it’s him and not you. But if he’s crazy crazy he’ll have a social worker, who will start to be involved. You can also sue the social work department too for failure of supervision. Or you could complain about the housing management to a higher authority for allowing him to live there and taking no action when he’s making death threats against you.

    If you point out that not having to endure regular death threats to you and your family is a minimal level of security for most parents of small children, people often don’t react. But when they realise they’re going to get an ‘I-told-you-so’ invoice from hell as compensation for what happened next… Well they’re going to think about what might happen next and whether they would want to pay that bill. Then they might organise a housing transfer.

    Probably nothing will happen. My brother is schizophrenic and has been the cause of similar worries to your own in the past. These people deserve consideration as well as caution. Really crazy people are statistically way more likely to commit suicide than hurt other people, But we did have to bang on the doors of different departments before they hauled him into an observation unit for a few months and slowly he got the idea that if he wanted to inhabit his delusions, a) He wasn’t leaving till he did and b) If he actually acted on his delusions, he would return there for a looooonnnggg time. After that, he started calming down, shutting up and pretending he was normal. He still takes medication, but you know what? No more aggressive incidents.

  12. I am having the exact same problem at the moment with the woman who lives downstairs from us so I checked the Internet to find out info about these kind of situations and found your website.
    My situation is honestly EXACTLY the same as yours (except its a woman downstairs from me with no mental issues except that she expects to live in total silence). I have 2 kids who aren’t really being that noisy and I’m always really contentious about the noise they make including the ”footsteps” that seems to drive those Japanese complainers crazy.
    The complaints by the lady downstairs are in turn driving me crazy!!!!
    Totally ready to move !!!!

  13. Sorry I’m a bit late to this party, but how did thing works out for you and your family? I’ve had two Japanese people (one a middle-aged housewife, and the other a young single man) ask my advice about this very same issue. In the first case, the man in the downstairs apartment kept complaining about loud music, even on the days that the woman and her husband were out of town. Eventually the police were consulted, and bizarrely dealt with it by removing the woman’s stereo system and keeping it at the police box. He stopped complaining for a while, but eventually started up again. That couple are thinking of selling their condo and moving elsewhere.

    In the second case, the downstairs neighbour insisted that the young man was stomping around all night, even though he was actually sleeping. One evening the neighbour asked the young man to have a meeting outside on the street. He sounded quite threatening. Somehow the police got involved, and the complainant made some feeble excuses and fled from the scene. To top it all off, it turns out that the weirdo is actually the son of the landlord, who naturally refuses to get involved!

    I strongly advised the young man, a renter, to consider moving elsewhere.

    One of my life mottos is “never argue with crazy people.”

    Anyway, I hope it all worked out for you.

  14. This person, a neighbour of yours, definitely has some mental problems and a mental sickness. Perhaps you could try talking to his mom, asking about it specifically.

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