Tokyo, Japan’s capital and economic powerhouse is packed to the gunnels and pulsing with energy. With more Fortune 500 companies, more people and more purchasing power parity than any other city, this 24/7 futuristic city is the world leader for consumer trends.
By night, Tokyo’s lights make Las Vegas' pale in comparison. At dusk, tens of thousands of workers pour from office buildings into Tokyo’s streets, teeming beneath the throb and hue of neon lights and paper lanterns. The city never sleeps; you’ll find bars and clubs as packed at 4 a.m. in the morning as they were at 10 p.m. the previous night.
In the sober light of day, Tokyo’s cityscape is rather blander. The modern and contemporary designs that dominate the skyline are symptomatic of the ravages of a major earthquake and WWII fire-bombing that laid waste to the city’s architectural heritage.
Space is at a premium in Tokyo, reflected in the city’s current trend of building tall, thin houses on as little as two-meter plots of land. Second only to Hong Kong, it is one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in. Here you can expect to pay triple and even quadruple what you would normally pay elsewhere in the developed world for rent, foodstuffs, taxis and movie tickets.
Living in Tokyo can at times be draining; fortunately there are many great ways to recharge your batteries. The Japanese love their open spa baths and in Tokyo you will find a liberal scattering of them. Pop in for an hour to be cleansed, relaxed, and massaged. It is a perfect way to wind down after a day in the Shinjuku (business district), to recover from a night out, or before taking a flight. On the weekends you can get away from it all. Head to Narito town for an Onsen (traditional thermal springs bath in an exquisite natural setting). Or, grab your snowboard and head for the Nihon Arupusu (Japanese Alps); you can be there within two hours by train.
Despite being an incredibly cosmopolitan city, it is advisable that you take a crash course in Japanese upon arrival. While you could get by in English, speaking the local language will give you an unforgettable glimpse into Japan’s captivating culture.
What is special or unique about your city?
Tokyo, the financial centre and political capital of Japan, is unlike any city in the world. It has a fascinating, energetic blend of both high technology and tradition.
Tokyo is a huge city with many treasures to discover. This includes the city's many museums, concert halls and cultural exhibits from all over the world.
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
Transferees remark on how large and modern Tokyo is but they also comment on the abundant greenery in some locations. Politeness and friendliness of the people is also noted. Among the challenges, language issues (especially in written communication) can complicate an expat's stay in
Are these impressions likely to change?
With regards to the size of Tokyo, newcomers actually find that they become very familiar with certain sections of the city, and can identify with their neighbourhood. Initial observations of politeness can sometimes be challenged on busy trains or crowded shopping areas, but the overall friendliness and safety factors are still appreciated.
What is the local language?
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
Fairly easily in central Tokyo. Recently, many more signs have appeared in English.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
Use common sense and be a good neighbour. Follow rubbish disposal rules. Remain calm and never lose your temper. Take your shoes off when entering someone's home.
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Tokyo has all four seasons. Spring and autumn are very nice. Summers tend to be very hot and humid. Winters are rather dry and chilly in Tokyo.
For those with allergies, there is a lot of pollen in the air during springtime.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Tokyo’s cost of living compares to New York City or London, with some differences in categories.
Housing that meets foreign standards is expensive. On the bright side, the people are quiet and helpful, and the city has something for everyone.