Tokyo is the most populous city in the world, with nearly 40 million people living in its metropolitan area. Yet few foreigners are currently living in Tokyo. When one thinks of Tokyo, one always thinks of an unimaginably populated concrete jungle. Within the city, however there are also quiet suburban neighborhoods or even places that still have a lot of nature. So you can definitely say that not all of Tokyo is a cemented metropolis. The architecture of the city ranges from traditional to modern. There are areas with modern architecture and others with traditional architecture. Moreover, from the city center you can reach the mountains that surround Tokyo in a few hours by public transport and you can live in a quiet suburb of Tokyo and get to work easily thanks to the well-developed transportation system.
In any case, an irrefutable fact about Tokyo is the large number of its inhabitants. It is a crowded city where you have to stand in line for almost everything. Sometimes the trains and the subway are so crowded that you are literally squeezed into the people. Public transportation in the city works wonderfully. Trains and buses leave and arrive exactly at the times indicated on the signs. The prices are also acceptable. You can get anywhere relatively easily. You can travel easily not only within Tokyo, but also to all the major places in Japan. Traffic is terrible, living in Tokyo and owning a car is usually more of a problem than an advantage.
Japanese society, especially in companies, is still as it was a hundred years ago: the boss is a father and there is an absolute respect for elders and hierarchy. Each person has a well-defined role in society that must be respected and not pretend to fulfill another. Japanese society is still very macho, closed, rigid and xenophobic. Although on the surface it seems incredibly polite and friendly, even to foreigners. It is not for nothing that Tokyo, despite its size, is not very cosmopolitan. Do not expect to deal much with Japanese people, in most cases they will be polite or indifferent. Most of them will remain strangers to you, although some of them may become your acquaintances. One obstacle that is certainly not conducive to integration is language. Not many people speak English, and Japanese is a language that takes many years to learn well.
Living in Tokyo is very expensive. Even people from other major city around the world may not be prepared for the cost of living locally. Above all, housing is expensive. Urban areas are the most expensive. Cheaper accommodations can be found in the suburbs. In any case, you will have to settle for very small rooms.
From a security perspective, living in Tokyo is the best. Can you imagine a place where you can safely show off your latest gadgets in public or flaunt your finest jewelry without being harmed? That privilege exists in Tokyo: a city where crime is almost non-existent. There is no part of Tokyo where you can not walk at night. Street crime is practically non-existent, and the Japanese police are very intolerant of criminals.
Japanese food is very good. Around the world there are many restaurants with Japanese cuisine, because it is one of the most popular in the world. In their culture, not only the taste is important, but also the presentation of the food.
Speaking of work, one of the hardest things for a foreigner to do is to adapt to the local work culture. The Japanese work a lot, about 55-65 hours a week. Also, working in a Japanese company involves a completely vertical management style. In Japan, every idea, suggestion or request has to go through all levels of the vertical hierarchy from the bottom up. If you are a woman, you can forget about your career, because the society is very macho and there is no place for a woman in a management position.
To work in Tokyo you need a work visa, which is quite hard to get. Usually Japanese companies hire people with skills they can not find in their home country, which means they will only offer you a qualified job if you are really good at your job. Most of the qualified jobs for foreigners are in the fields of information technology, engineering and teaching (teachers of English, French, etc.), and as cooks in foreign cuisine.
For other jobs, they will always prefer a local, even if you speak perfect Japanese (which they sometimes do not like very much because they can not speak freely to each other). In any case, with language skills you will be able to get many more job offers. Currently, there is a growing but slow demand for foreigners by Japanese companies looking to expand their market overseas.
Living and working in Tokyo – pros and cons
Living in Tokyo, pros
- You can find just about anything. Anything there is in the market, you can have.
- Perfect pubblic transpor system
- The weather is very good. It is much warmer than the rest of eastern Japan
- It surrounded by completely wild mountains
Living in Tokyo, cons
- Tokyo is too crowded. Almost everywhere you go there are too many people to enjoy it
- Apartments are expensive
- Be prepred to live in small flat, if you like spacious rooms, it will be difficult to live in Tokyo
- Be prepared for an extremely fast life
For those interested in living in Japan, I recommend reading the article: Moving to Japan
For those interested in working in Japan, I recommend reading the article: Working in Japan