I found some apartments I liked, and now I'm ready to sign on one of them.
Week 2, Friday:
I decide on one apartment and email "Mr. T" (my agent) to make sure it is still available. He responds that it is and again encourages me to hurry up and sign on it before anyone else does!! I tell him I'll be in sometime soon.
Week 2, Saturday:
The next afternoon I go to sign on the apartment, stopping by the bank to have enough money for the 申込金 (moushi komi kin), or down payment, that accompanies a formal application. I'm presented with a form to fill out my details, including my place of work and income, as well as details of my 連帯保証人 (rentai hoshounin), or the (Japanese) guarantor who will be responsible for my rent if I fail to pay.
Because I'm not Japanese and the guarantor is not a blood relative, my relationship to the guarantor is questioned in great detail. How do I know this person? Is he willing to accept this responsibility for me?
Mr. T gives me a rundown of the next steps in the process. My application and a photocopy of my ID will be sent to the building owner for evaluation, aka 審査 (shinsa). As part of the evaluation process, the owner will call me, the guarantor, and my workplace to confirm all the details on the application. When my application is approved, a contract will be sent to the agency and I'll be called in again to review its final details, sign, and stamp it with my 印鑑 (inkan, name seal). After that, it will be sent by mail to my guarantor, who will also sign and stamp it, then return it along with an 印鑑証明書 (inkan shoumeisho), documentation that certifies his inkan as legitimate, required because he cannot come to the store and sign in person. He will also be asked to provide proof of his annual income. (This is the kind of stuff that can make you feel bad about asking someone to be your guarantor.)
When all that is done, the apartment will be done and I'll be able to move in on the day I've chosen.
Things appear to be going peachy.