Bringing your pet to Tokyo – Important things to consider!

Are you a fur mom or dad and thinking about bringing your fur baby to live with you in Tokyo?

In other words– “Are you planning on living in Tokyo, and do you want to take your pet with you?”

If the answer is, “Yes.”, then please read on.  There is a lot to consider!

(dog and sakura header photo by zhao hui)


We know the thought of not having your pet with you on all your Tokyo adventures is unimaginable, but there are a few factors that you definitely need to consider before you firmly decide to bring your pet to Tokyo.

Considering the following points will help put into perspective the reality of what bringing over and living with a pet is like in Tokyo.


Know Tokyo’s Take On Owning Pets

Pets are a luxury in Tokyo.  This is somewhat of a “traditional thing” of modern times, but the high cost of pets and apartments that can support them, shows that pets being a luxury, still holds true.  This is one reason why apartments/houses that are pet-friendly, can be a little more expensive (and also include a 1 month non-refundable deposit for the pet).  If you ever go to a pet shop in Tokyo, you’ll see that prices for most pet types are quite high (compared to USA, for example).  Japan is into a lot of purebred pets, as well as exotic breeds, etc.

The amount of space available in the tightly-packed metropolis that is Tokyo, can barely fit the human population.  This makes it harder to fit in our furry friends!  …Which makes having a large dog in Tokyo very difficult, unless you have a rent budget of around ¥200,000 and upwards.  Even at ¥200,000, finding an apartment or house than allows for a large dog, can be quite difficult for an expat, especially if they have no Japanese speaking skills.

Large dogs are mostly owned by those who are relatively wealthy. Only large apartments/houses will accept large dogs, and the rent for these tend to be high (or one can buy an apartment/house).

In summation on the cultural point:  Pets are a luxury in Tokyo– from the cost of pets themselves, to the cost of apartments that will accept them.

(big dog and small dog photo by bingham30069)


Pet Size Matters!

Apartments in Tokyo that allow pets are definitely available, but they are not as common as you might imagine.

Pet-friendly rentals sometimes only allow for cats, or sometimes only dogs, etc.  Each apartment or house that’s pet-friendly, will have specific regulations on what type of pet can live there.  There is no such thing as a “any pet is ok” pet-friendly category.


As far as sizes for dogs– There are size classes, and this is a VERY important point!

The main classes for dog sizes are as follows:

• Under 5kg (11lbs) range- Small dog – This is for when a rental will only accept dogs like Chihuahas.

• Under 10kg (22lbs) – Most dog-friendly rentals will have 10kg as the determining factor, between small dog and large dog.

• Over 10kg (22lbs)- LARGE DOG – Yes, you read that right! A large dog here is from 10kg and over. Some property managers are VERY strict with this rule; sometimes not accepting applicants due to the dog’s weight being just 1kg more than 10kg.  Once a dog is over 10kg, the selection of viable rentals drops dramatically.  The Large Dog category is the rarest class and has the least availability, out of any of the common pet classes.


If you have a “Large Dog”, finding a place can be very VERY difficult, unless your budget is around ¥200,000~250,000 or more. Most housing that allows large dogs are stand-alone houses or large apartments, which brings with them a hefty price tag, especially if near central Tokyo.

Smaller dogs under 10kg will have more options available to you.

If you have a cat– One cat is not too tough to find a rental for, but rentals that accept TWO CATS or more, is actually quite rare.


★ Special Note:  We’ve gotten quite a few inquiries regarding apartment searches to support a dog larger than 10kg/22lbs (sometimes much larger), with a budget of under ¥130,000~100,000.  The solution in these cases, is to live about 45 minutes to an hour+ out from central Tokyo.  If your budget is quite strict, please know that a long work commute is most likely what you’ll have to accept, if you want to live with your Large Dog around Tokyo.


Make Sure You Can Budget Your Fur-Baby Into Your Monthly Rent Cost

For pet-friendly apartments, you can expect a slightly higher rent cost and an extra one-month NON-REFUNDABLE pet deposit, paid in advance (before contracting). Although you might know that your pet will behave like an angel, it’s just standard Tokyo apartment practice that you will need finances to cover any accidents or scratches your pet might make in your new place.

Since apartments offered for those with larger dogs are larger spaces, they are challenging to find within central Tokyo, unless your budget is around/above ¥230,000 or so.  Please note that for property manager screening purposes, one’s monthly rent cannot be greater than 1/3 of one’s monthly gross salary.  So if you take your monthly salary and divide it by 3, this is your hypothetical max rent possible.

Tokyo Apartments are already pricey, then being an expat can already bring up rent prices, and then add in your pet– you aren’t looking at anything cheap. Check out our blog on ▶ Why Tokyo Expat Rentals Can Be Expensive… to give you an idea of what you need to prepare financially.


Get Your Pet Up-To-Date with Japan’s Import Laws (The Hard Truth: Can My Pet Make The Trip?)

The Animal Quarantine Service (AQS) has a website in English, explaining the steps you need to take to bring your pet over to Japan. The process is different depending on your originating country. For instance, if you come from Australia, a rabies shot is not required (due to no rabies in Australia), but if you’re coming from most the USA or other countries, you will need to be up to date with your pet’s rabies shots.


Let’s look at the requirements for bringing a pet from the States (although Hawaii and Guam have their own import rules)–

• Microchip Implanted

• Rabies shots (twice)

• Rabies Blood Test

• A waiting period of 180 days after the blood test

• Advanced Notice of Arrival (40 days prior)

• Clinical Inspection before departure and all paperwork

• Inspection upon Arrival


180 days is a long time, so you’ll need to be planning your Tokyo move, far in advance. If you fail to wait the exact 180 days or fail in getting the right paperwork, the AQS will quarantine your dog in a facility upon your arrival in Japan- without you- for another 180 days. All expenses covered by you. This can be stressful for you and your pet.

Please read over the AQS website thoroughly!

▶ Quarantine system for dogs and cats in Japan


Although you don’t want to leave your pet behind, the stress for both you and your fur buddy might outweigh the benefit of having them with you.

Our advice is to consult us first before you start planning your move to Tokyo.

We’ve been contacted by a lot of people with large dogs, who were soon to be arriving in Tokyo, but they didn’t realize how expensive to live with their dog would be!  The system in Tokyo is really not like in the USA, for example, where it’s possible to find a pet-friendly apartment, without too much hassle at all.

▶ Contact us if you have a pet— we’d be happy to give you advice and point you in the right direction!

We will be straight with you, and we’ll be realistic with you.

We want you and your pet to be happy in Tokyo. 🙂


Some articles you might be interested in before moving to Tokyo:

▶ 4 Common Misconceptions About Renting A Tokyo Apartment

▶ How Much You Need to Live Comfortably in Tokyo [Infographic]