Having lived in Hitachi for two sumers now in an apartment, it’s easy for me to say that it is extremely convenient and enjoyable to live by oneself in Japan. I stayed in Sagawa-san’s apartments, other known as the “Maison d’Espoir” complex. Sagawa-san is the landlord, and he is very friendly and helpful. On your first day in the apartment, he will guide you through everything that you need to know, including when/how to throw out the trash, where to put recyclable PET bottles, how to use the stove, etc.
The apartment itself is quite small, being that it is a studio. The kitchen has a singular stove, but Sagawa-san provides an abundance of cooking supplies and eating utensils such as pots, pans, plates, bowls, and cutlery. The bathroom has a classic Japanese-style shower/bathtub/sink combination, which saves a lot of space and is easy to use. There is air conditioning, and depending on the room, there may also be a fan. There are hangers for clothes drying, a vacuum cleaner, and a closet as well as other storage cubicles. There is also a TV (beware of NHK! Sagawa-san will explain this when you meet him). Additionally, Sagawa-san provides a fridge, microwave, toaster, water kettle, and a rice cooker!
During my two stays, I had the chance to see three different apartments. I can safely say that the layout for the apartments I stayed in varied only slightly. For example, in 2017, I had a desk and chair, and this year in 2018, the two apartments I saw had floor tables and no chairs. *I had to change my apartment once this year because my AC had broken down, and Sagawa-san swiftly helped me move into a different apartment the very next day. Both the apartments I stayed in this year were on the second floor, whereas the one I stayed in last year was on the first floor. If you have a request to have a table or floor table, I would make sure to let the Intern Coordinator and Sagawa-san know before it is arranged! I personally would have preferred having a chair this year, but it was nice to experience using a floor table and a seat mat (that I purchased at Daiso) seeing that I was in Japan! As for beds, my first and second apartments had regular beds and Sagawa-san provided all of the bedding. The third apartment had a sofa bed, which was slightly less firm than a mattress, but still very comfortable.
The apartment is conveniently located about 25 minutes by foot from Ibaraki Christian University or 12 minutes by bicycle. A 5-minute walk away is a Daiso (100-yen shop) as well as a Mini-Stop (convenience store). I have found these two stores to be extremely useful. Daiso for things such as dish sponges, cups, and just about anything you will need in your apartment (even soy sauce, spices, and food!). Mini-stop is a 24/7 convenience store that will satisfy your late-night cravings or if you need anything when stores are usually closed. About a 20 minute walk away in two different directions are two supermarkets: Maruto and Sanyu. Maruto is larger, closer to the school, and slightly cheaper overall. I wouldsuggest shopping at Maruto. Sanyu is smaller but adjacent to a drugstore (drugstores in Japan also sell toiletries and amenities such as shampoo, make-up, soap, etc.).
If you prefer the independence and freedom, I would highly recommend staying in the apartments. If you like to cook, the singular stove is easy to work with (you can get creative with how to cook everything!). I have nothing but good impressions of the apartments and can say that if I were to return (a third time…) to Hitachi, that I would definitely return to the apartments.