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Living in Japan > Tokyo > 5 Tips for Living in Tokyo, Japan

5 Tips for Living in Tokyo, Japan

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Oct 12, 2016

Expats in Tokyo enjoy the capital city of Japan, which is a sprawling metropolitan area. Here are some tips to help expats navigate a relocation to one of the biggest economies in the world.

Expats Tokyo - 5 Tips for Living in Tokyo, Japan

Expats in Tokyo live in the most populous greater metropolitan area in the world. It is an international center of finance and industry that is critical not only to Japan, but other economies in Asia and beyond.

Basics For Expats In Tokyo

Tokyo is in the Kanto region in the southeastern part of the island of Honshu, which is the "main island" of Japan.

Tokyo has the largest GDP of any city in the world, and its metropolitan area is home to nearly 40 million people. Tokyo's economy is the center of Japan's "transportation, publishing, electronics and broadcasting industries."

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Living in Tokyo

The best neighborhoods in Tokyo for expats depends on several individual factors... most importantly proximity to work, transportation and, if relevant, schools. Some of the best options include:

  1. Hiroo - Very popular with expats and is centrally located.
  2. Azabu - Home to many embassies, Azabu is largely a residential district.
  3. Ebisu - Named after Yebisu Beer, there are numerous restaurants and pubs and is relatively quiet compared to other areas of the city.
  4. Daikanyama - Near Ebisu, Daikanyama has been called artsy and is located in Central Tokyo.
  5. Jiyugaoka - Rural until the 1920s, Jiyugaoka has a residential feel to it.
  6. Denenchofu - Closer to the American School of Japan, so an excellent choice for parents with children that will attend there.

In an expat moving to Tokyo report, one expat advised that "when choosing a home, pick something near a train station, as this is the easiest way to get around. Most Tokyoites spend at least an hour commuting by train, so don't let the distance worry you. Most real estate agents only speak Japanese, so bring a translator with you. Expect the kitchens to be galley style, and for the washing machines to be in the bathroom or on the balcony. Make sure your neighborhood also have plenty of markets nearby-refrigerators are so small, you have to shop daily!

One expat in Japan who had to move quickly didn't have time to develop too many expectations and reported that "everything was new and exciting for me and I was open to whatever lay before me. I wasn't disappointed by anything, like some of my expat colleagues, because I hadn't had any expectations. I think it made my experience richer because of it. Honestly, Japan changed my life. This experience happened in the mid 1980s and I changed how I think and feel about things even today. The direction my life has taken is in direct result of my experiences as an expat living in Japan. I will always be grateful for the experience and life lessons."

That being said, she did say that "there were a few things that [she] really wasn't prepared for: crowded trains and the groping men on the trains, expectations at work to fit into the Japanese mold, homesickness and loneliness at times."

Expats living in Japan interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA. Get a Quote

Expats living in Japan interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

International Schools in Tokyo

There are plenty of options for international schools for expats in Tokyo.

The American School in Japan is located in Chofu.

The British School in Tokyo is located in Shibuya.

Many expats will choose their neighborhood based upon where their child will be attending school and how long it will take to commute to work. This is critical - do research on public transportation options in each neighborhood when choosing a school.

Transportation in Tokyo

The transportation system in the greater Tokyo Metropolitan area is vast and includes "public and private rail and highway networks; airports for international, domestic, and general aviation; buses; motorcycle delivery services, walking, bicycling, and commercial shipping."

There is a wide network of train stations in Tokyo.

Two rapid transit systems in Tokyo, Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway. Toei Buses are also an option for commuters.

An expat in Tokyo wrote that one of the most challenging things about living in Tokyo is "riding the very crowded trains during rush hour. Finding my way around the city, given the lack of street names." Another expat agreed, saying it was hard facing "the grind of being part of the 'herd', waiting in long lines, for packed trains, etc."

Things to Do in Tokyo

Expats in Japan enjoy, obviously, the most authentic Japanese cuisine in the world, and Tokyo offers a sampling of the regional varieties of Japanese cuisine.

It is suggested that there are 30 types of Japanese restaurants in Tokyo.

About the Author

Joshua Wood joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and 5 Best Places to Live in Spain. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and 5 Best Places to Live in Spain. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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First Published: Oct 12, 2016

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	From articles, articlePlacement
	Where hitopic <> ''
	and articlePlacement.networkID = 61 
	AND articlePlacement.articleID = articles.articleID
	and hidescript <> ''
    and type = '3'
    and articles.topic <> 'Weekly Quizzes'
   	and articles.topic <> 'Weekly Quizzes: Answers'
    and general <> 'bb'
    and hpimg <> 'none'
    and keycity = '0'
   and cityintro = 'n'
    and summary <> ''
    and articles.articleID <> 4843
    and publishdate < "2020-07-12"
    and publishdate > "2014-01-01"
 
    ORDER by articles.articleID asc   
    
gettopbanner (Datasource=expert, Time=2ms, Records=0) in /home/www/html/navbottomad_rdesign5.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
	Select *
	From banners
	WHERE status <> "hold"
	AND position = "eebanner"
	and weight < 8
    and toDate > "2020-07-11"
    and fromDate < "2020-07-12"
        and banners.promised = ''
    and banners.type <> 'swf'
gettopbanner (Datasource=expert, Time=2ms, Records=2) in /home/www/html/navbottomad_rdesign5.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
	Select *
	From banners
	WHERE status <> "hold"
	AND position = "eebanner"
    and toDate > "2020-07-11"
    and fromDate < "2020-07-12"
        and banners.promised = ''
    and banners.type <> 'swf'
UpdatePageViews (Datasource=expert, Time=1ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navbottomad_rdesign5.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
  UPDATE banners
  SET impressions = impressions + 1
  WHERE bannerid = 865 
gethpbox (Datasource=expert, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navmpu_rdesign5.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
	Select *
	From banners
	WHERE status <> "hold"
	AND (position = "eehpbox" or position = "eehpboxglobal")
    and toDate > {ts '2020-07-11 11:58:53'}
    and fromDate <{ts '2020-07-12 11:58:53'}
    and banners.type <> 'swf'
    
UpdatePageViews (Datasource=expert, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navmpu_rdesign5.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
  UPDATE banners
  SET impressions = impressions + 1
  WHERE bannerid = 866 
GetMessages (Datasource=forum, Time=0ms, Records=0) in /home/www/html/commentsnew_rdesign4.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
  SELECT *
  FROM comments m 
  WHERE m.tpcid = 4843 
  and m.commenttype = 1
  and m.isapproved = 1
  ORDER BY msgid ASC
getguidesummary (Datasource=expert, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
	Select summary, hiimg 
	From articles, articlecityplace
	Where  articlecityplace.citynetworkid = 4161
	and articlecityplace.articleid = articles.articleID
    and articles.cityintro = 'y'
 
gethealthsummary (Datasource=expert, Time=0ms, Records=0, Cached Query) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
	Select summary, hpimg
	From articles, articlePlacement, articleCategories
	Where articlePlacement.networkID = 61 
	AND articlePlacement.articleID = articles.articleID
   	and articleCategories.articleID = articles.articleID
   	and articleCategories.section = 9
   	and articles.sectionintro = 'y'
    ORDER by articles.articleID desc
gethealthcare (Datasource=tipripper, Time=8ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
SELECT *
FROM allreports, Networks 
WHERE rid = 100
and Networks.networkid = 61
and allreports.networkid = 61
 and allreports.citynetworkid2 =  4161
and allreports.topicid = 7
and hide <> 'y'
order by allreports.answerid DESC
getslugs (Datasource=tipripper, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
SELECT topics.slug, topics.slugcity, topics.slugstate,topics.slugcitynostate, topics.slugcountry, topics.slugentry, topics.topicqid, topics.topicqidanswer, topics.promolinktext, topics.articletitle
FROM topics
WHERE topicid = 7 
getanswerstext (Datasource=tipripper, Time=5ms, Records=6) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
SELECT DISTINCT answerstext.aid, questions.question, topicquestions.required, questions.qid, questions.type, answers.answerid, answers.reviewed, answers.rid, answers.dbid, answerstext.answer, answerstext.qid, answerstext.answerid, answers.img, answers.hiimg, answers.hpimg, answers.fbimg, answers.photocaption, answers.photocredit, answers.summary, topicquestions.outputtext, answerstext.uniqueheader, answerstext.uniqueheaderprop, answerstext.answerstextphoto, answerstext.photoplacement
FROM answerstext, answers, topicquestions, questions 
WHERE answers.answerid = 80487
AND (100 = answers.rid or 99 = answers.rid)
and topicquestions.qid <> 391
and topicquestions.qid <> 62
AND topicquestions.topicid = answers.topicid
and answerstext.answer <> ''
AND topicquestions.qid = questions.qid
AND topicquestions.qid = answerstext.qid
AND 80487 = answerstext.answerid 
ORDER BY topicquestions.order ASC
getbrief (Datasource=tipripper, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
	SELECT summary
	FROM answers
	WHERE answers.answerid = '80487'
getheading (Datasource=tipripper, Time=4ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
	SELECT DISTINCT answerstext.answer, answerstext.answerid, answerstext.qid
	FROM answerstext
	WHERE answerstext.answerid = '80487'
	and qid = 391
getphoto (Datasource=tipripper, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
	SELECT DISTINCT hiimg as photo
	FROM answers
	WHERE answerid = 80487 
getlocationtag1 (Datasource=tipripper, Time=1ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
SELECT shortname, networkname, networkid
FROM Networks
WHERE networkid = '61'
checkculturefeature (Datasource=expert, Time=5ms, Records=2) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
		Select networkname as ctry, city, networkid, rid, networkname, answerid
		FROM allreports
         where rid = 95
                    
         and networkid = 61
          and citynetworkid = 4161
         and city <> ''
         order by date DESC
getsummary (Datasource=reports, Time=1ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
		Select summary, hiimg, hpimg
		FROM answers
         	where answerid = 76451 
getsummary (Datasource=reports, Time=0ms, Records=1) in /home/www/html/navcontentboxcitypc.cfm @ 11:58:53.053
		Select summary, hiimg, hpimg
		FROM answers
         	where answerid = 76452 


Scope Variables

CGI Variables:
AUTH_PASSWORD=
AUTH_TYPE=
AUTH_USER=
CERT_COOKIE=
CERT_FLAGS=
CERT_ISSUER=
CERT_KEYSIZE=
CERT_SECRETKEYSIZE=
CERT_SERIALNUMBER=
CERT_SERVER_ISSUER=
CERT_SERVER_SUBJECT=
CERT_SUBJECT=
CF_TEMPLATE_PATH=/home/www/html/lib_rd.cfm
CONTENT_LENGTH=
CONTENT_TYPE=
CONTEXT_PATH=
GATEWAY_INTERFACE=CGI/1.1
HTTPS=on
HTTPS_KEYSIZE=
HTTPS_SECRETKEYSIZE=
HTTPS_SERVER_ISSUER=
HTTPS_SERVER_SUBJECT=
HTTP_ACCEPT=text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8
HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING=gzip
HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE=en-US,en;q=0.5
HTTP_CONNECTION=Keep-Alive
HTTP_COOKIE=
HTTP_HOST=www.expatexchange.com
HTTP_REFERER=
HTTP_USER_AGENT=CCBot/2.0 (https://commoncrawl.org/faq/)
PATH_INFO=
PATH_TRANSLATED=/home/www/html/lib_rd.cfm
QUERY_STRING=articleID=4843&networkid=61
REMOTE_ADDR=172.68.65.192
REMOTE_HOST=172.68.65.192
REMOTE_USER=
REQUEST_METHOD=GET
SCRIPT_NAME=/lib_rd.cfm
SERVER_NAME=www.expatexchange.com
SERVER_PORT=443
SERVER_PORT_SECURE=1
SERVER_PROTOCOL=HTTP/1.1
SERVER_SOFTWARE=Apache
WEB_SERVER_API=
Session Variables:
cfid=31759551
cftoken=79200656
sessionid=IBEXPATEXCHANGE.COM_31759551_79200656
urltoken=CFID=31759551&CFTOKEN=79200656
URL Parameters:
articleID=4843
networkid=61
Debug Rendering Time: 10 ms