I just learned a new word, "地主{じぬし}, whose definition in my web dictionary, and paper dictionary, is landlord, land owner.

"家主{やぬし}" is surely the word that native English speakers would use for the landlord of the apartment where they live. I've never heard anything else.

  • Because "地" means "land, soil", is "地主" like the owner of a plot of land? Whether there is a house on that plot of land is not relevant?
  • Most "家主" work as employees for large companies that own buildings with apartments in them? In that, your typical "家主" does not own the apartments that they manage?
  • If so, then a 不動産屋 would introduce me to a 地主 to exchange cash for her / his land? I would be introduced to a 家主 to ask if it is ok to live in the apartments that he/she manages?

Am I correct about this?

  • Did you mean to write "native Japanese speakers"?
    – user1478
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 4:27
  • @snailboat no. What I mean is that when I, and many other native English speakers who I known, expressed in Japanese our perception of what a "landlord" is, we would say "yanushi". "Yanshi" had been a direct mapping to "landlord", but now I see it is not that simple.
    – david.t
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 4:51
  • Indeed, because native Japanese speakers prefer 大家{おおや}(さん). Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 16:22
  • @broccoliforest I was just confused, because when I read the question, I figured that the word native speakers of English would choose was irrelevant . . . I guess I understand now.
    – user1478
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 17:45
  • @snailboat Actually, 家主 is a word you wouldn't see very much outside something legal... Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 17:50

1 Answer 1


地主 is an owner of the land, while 家主 is an owner of housing. Land and housing are separate objects of separate ownerships in Japan. If you rent a land from someone, he/she is 地主 for you. If you build a house on that land and rent the house to someone else, you are 家主 for him/her.

When you are seeking a house, 不動産屋 wouldn't introduce you to a 地主, instead, they would to a 家主. 地主 is irrelevant in this contract.

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