How One New Yorker Found Her Home Away From Home In Azabu Gardens

There's No Room For Feeling Homesick At This Tokyo Residence

By Mai Shoji
January 23, 2018
Lifestyle, Sponsored Post

When Mary Koukoumeledis moved to Tokyo with her family she didn’t know what to expect — everything was new, everything felt distant. But when she settled down at the family's new home at Azabu Gardens, the picture came together. And her life here in Tokyo remained a memory she would treasure forever.

Nestled in Tokyo’s international hub area in Minato Ward, Azabu Gardens is a luxurious property that offers the capital’s international community a high-end, convenient family lifestyle in the heart of the capital. A year and a half ago it became the new home of a Greek-American expat couple and their three children, who had come to Japan from Athens on a work-related expat package. As a busy family of five who didn’t know what to expect from their new life, they needed an accommodation that would become a solid foundation for their new adventure — a home away from home, a place to relax, people to support them, and greenery spaces to make them feel surrounded by nature while not trading urban convenience for it.

Mary Koukoumeledis at a common facility space at Azabu Gardens.

Last December, the family completed their work in Tokyo and headed back home to New York. Amid packing and nostalgic last-minute partings, Savvy Tokyo caught up with Mary before the family’s departure to hear more about their life at Azabu Gardens and why they would recommend the residence to other expats.

Prior to moving to Japan, you had never traveled to Asia. How and why did you choose this apartment?

We came here to do a site inspection, like a look-see for a few days. I knew this building and I knew I wanted to be here. We saw a couple of units in the East building but when I heard there was an opening in the West Building, I rented it without even looking at it. I had seen the website and other units, but this one had a balcony on the 4th floor. We were in Greece at the time, but I knew how fast these apartments go, so we were like, ‘Ok we want it. Let’s put an offer on it.’ It was perfect that we got it.

Room with a view: Azabu Gardens’ spacious apartments offer a view of both natural greenery and Tokyo Tower.

This is truly an exceptional neighborhood, especially for expats. Did you find it convenient living here?

It’s a very convenient neighborhood. I can find everything here, so I don’t even have to leave this area. When I do, I can take the bus, the train or taxi — the transportation is very convenient. I shop for groceries at Lincos, National Azabu or Dai-ei. Those are my three supermarkets, or I go to Costco. The apartment is close to Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Midtown, the Robot park or the Arisugawa Park where I leave the kids to play.

We felt at home as soon as we walked through the door.

Tell us more about the benefits of living in Azabu Gardens.

The location, the modern facility and the people (were exceptional). We used to have a four-bedroom apartment back home, but there are not many four bedrooms apartment around here. Azabu Gardens is brand new and we had a nice big patio with a sofa and a sitting area which weren’t facing any neighbors. The residence is equipped with a car and bike parking, and even a children’s bike parking space. There’s a whole rooftop with a kids playground. You can rent out the space for private use and sun tanning, or barbecue. I booked the space in the summer and invited all my friends for a cocktail party. It’s hard (to find a place) when you have a group of 30 girls and you don’t want to go to a bar or restaurant. You just want to have them over. The best part is that it’s free to rent out. At night, they light the roof up and you can see Tokyo Tower right in front of you. I booked the event space on a number of occasions: school events, PTA gatherings, breakfast coffee… Everyone was always like, “Let’s do it at your house.” (laughs)

Mary poses for a photograph on the roof of Azabu Gardens, a large space that can be rented for various events for free. She recalls quite a few fun nights with friends and family there.

The other families living in Azabu Gardens were going through the same situation: we were new to Tokyo, new to Asia — that was a great comfort for us. The residence hosts many events, such as Christmas and summer parties, inviting everyone in the building, so everyone gets to know each other. We also have a Facebook page where people can look and find things they need and everyone can communicate together. The floor plan was also great because we had a one-floor layout where the kids can run around. I’m going to miss that.

Azabu Gardens’ common space where tenants can come together for different occasions.

You didn’t feel homesick at all?

No, no. We felt at home as soon as we walked through the door. I felt comfortable here. And you can definitely make friends here. There’s always someone you can borrow an egg or sugar from and other things that you need. You just sort of meet them and you start hanging out together. The kids go up and down the apartment. My daughter just had a sleepover party at another girl’s apartment. There’s one lady in another unit who is a professional photographer who took my kids’ Christmas photos and there are personal trainers in the building who train us at the 24-hour gym downstairs sometimes.

My bedroom has a little courtyard area with greenery on every single window and it makes you relaxed.

How did the bilingual front desk personnel help you in your everyday life?

They kind of become your family. When my dog got sick, they helped me find a vet, called them, and made me feel safe with a recommendation to the best doctor nearby. I wouldn’t know how to find one on the internet otherwise so they were so helpful. Sometimes when my nanny wasn’t here and I had to walk my dog, they would look after the kids at the lobby while I was out.

When you come back home at Azabu Gardens, a bilingual concierge is waiting for your return. Mary says the front desk personelle were almost like a family to her.

I see they are poised to cater for the whole family’s needs. Do they always remember you and the family?

Oh my god, everything! As soon as you walk in the door they’re like, ‘Here’s your dry cleaning.’ and they bring your packages up. Above and beyond, they make you feel more accommodating. They’re like a friend who recommends restaurants, or honestly say which supermarket is better, or where to get coffee or breakfast. When you’re new here, you have no idea.

It’s hard to believe that there is so much greenery in the heart of one of the busiest cities in the world. Were the green spaces healing?

The fact that they have greenery everywhere is so calming. We are from the suburbs so it’s so nice to have greenery out the window. My bedroom has a little courtyard area with greenery on every single window and it makes you relaxed.

A green urban oasis: With a Japanese-style indoor garden, trees and an abundance of greenery, Azabu Gardens makes residence feel out in the wild while still living in the heart of Tokyo.

I’m already loving this chic and stylish aesthetics and the family-friendly vibe. Would you recommend this building to other families?

It is a great place for families. But I’m sure a single person would also fully benefit from this building. It’s a really well sought-after building. So convenient, so modern, so nice, so close to the schools. Everyone at the front desk speaks English and are so helpful. They even read my mails in Japanese — it’s a whole office station. I’m going to miss this place so much.

On a sunny warm day, it’s great to have a cup of coffee out on the spacious patio.

In our conversation with Mary, she continued telling us how much she would miss her home in Tokyo. But what impressed us the most is that despite leaving in just a few days later, she still found time to talk to us. On our way out we had to ask her why.

“It’s the best place in the world,” she said without much thinking — and she wanted everyone to know.

Azabu Gardens’ prime location, the fusion of Japanese artistry and foreign modernity, the entertaining facilities, the exclusive bilingual concierge — all define the epitome of luxury and comfort.  

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