Tokyo is an astounding city. Old and new. Ancient and modern. Eccentric and traditional. It’s one of the best places to explore or put down roots. So whether you’re moving in search of new opportunities, a new direction, or a new lifestyle, here are ten reasons to consider Tokyo.
Tokyo is a densely packed city. Space is at a premium and small apartments are the norm. However, they are generally well-maintained and comfortable, especially by Western standards. And while housing is notoriously expensive, food, utilities, and appliances are relatively cheap.
What’s more, Japanese neighborhoods are remarkably well-connected. So even though Tokyo is enormous, your basic necessities (supermarkets, shops, restaurants, schools, bus and train stations, etc.) are within easy walking distance.
And unlike some cities which close down early, Tokyo is awake almost 24 hours. Stores are open well into the evening. Cafes serve coffee late at night. Doctors see patients past eight o’clock. Which means you can access most of the city’s amenities when it’s convenient for you, rather than the shop owner.
Tokyo inverts the paradigm of most American cities. There, cars are a necessity. Here, they’re an encumbrance. Most residents don’t own one. Many don’t have driver’s licenses or own “paper licenses” they never use.
And they don’t need to. The trains run like clockwork. They arrive at the station every three minutes. If they're even a minute late, the conductor will apologize. Once you’re on board, it takes approximately 30-60 minutes to travel from one end of Tokyo to the other, roughly 56 miles.
And like most of Tokyo, trains are clean. Graffiti and litter are almost unheard of. Stations are pristine. As are most of the sidewalks. Neighborhoods organize regular community clean-ups of gutters, squares, parks ‒ citizens even tidy the public toilets!
While there’s no consensus on which city is the world’s safest (Copenhagen, Toronto, and Singapore have been nominated), Tokyo is frequently listed near the top of the list. If it’s not number one, then it’s usually close.
Crime is so low, people often leave their belongings unguarded while they’re in the bathroom, confident no one will touch them. Women aren’t afraid to walk the streets. Assaults are rare, as is catcalling and other forms of harassment.
Tokyo schools are some of the best in the world. Japanese students are well educated in math, history, science, art, literature, and social studies. They receive rigorous physical education as well.
However, while public schools are free even for foreign children, most visiting families prefer to enroll their children in one of the city’s international schools. Public schools may provide a stronger grounding in Japanese culture (important if you’re planning a long stay), but international schools typically offer a curriculum similar to the student's home country. The schools also teach lessons in English, which makes it easier for students to pick up where they left off.
Tokyo may be the largest urban landscape in the world, but it's not made entirely of glass and concrete. The city has hundreds of acres of green space. Most are small, nestled close to people’s homes, but there are 18 major parks as well, including:
It’s hard staying bored in Tokyo. The city’s attractions are seemingly endless, with more added every day. Imagine:
Japanese work hard and play hard, especially in Tokyo. People here love celebrating their culture, traditions, and history. The city holds dozens of festivals throughout the year. The smaller ones bring neighbors together. The bigger ones electrify the city. You won’t want to miss:
Tokyo has over 160,000 restaurants, more than any other city on Earth. You can find a noodle shop on almost every street corner, not to mention sushi, ramen, and tempura. But while the city is thoroughly Japanese, it still attracts top chefs from around the world. Its restaurants have earned more Michelin stars than any other place on Earth.
Though Tokyo is friendly and welcoming, Japanese culture differs significantly from the West. Visitors often struggle to fit in. However, while Tokyo is not a multicultural city, it is home to over 2 million foreigners. So no matter where you’re from, it’s likely you’ll find a community who shares your customs, language, and background.
English is slowly becoming the lingua franca of the business world. And because Japanese companies do so much business in foreign markets, English skills are in high demand. Native speakers are at a huge advantage therefore when applying for jobs. With a job, you can secure a work visa, which allows you to stay in Japan for up to five years, essential for anyone planning to live there long-term.