Tokyo is an exciting expat destination, and those planning a move there are bound to have many questions about life in this bustling city. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Tokyo.
How safe is Tokyo?
Tokyo is extremely safe. Nevertheless, it is a sprawling city and expats should always take adequate precautions, especially around crowded areas and when travelling on public transport as pickpockets are known to target unsuspecting foreigners.
The biggest safety problem is chikans, or perverts, who feel up women on crowded rush-hour trains. In an effort to curb this, some lines of the Tokyo subway have introduced 'women only' carriages in their trains for rush-hour.
Is Tokyo expensive?
The cost of living in Tokyo can be quite high, but this can be combatted by living frugally and modestly. The biggest and most non-negotiable expense for any expat is accommodation. It's quite possible to travel, have a reasonably active social life, save and shop on a basic Japanese salary.
Should I learn Japanese before moving to Tokyo?
No, it isn't necessary to learn Japanese if the language isn't required at work. Many Tokyoites are very keen to practise speaking English with foreigners and will do their best to help in English. Traffic signs, train signs and other important notices are written in English, as well as Japanese and Korean.
Are the locals friendly to expats?
Expats are regarded as very honoured and welcome guests in Japan, and the average citizen will go out of their way to help a person. National pride is on the rise which means that it's considered important that Japan presents itself in a positive light to all visitors.
Are weekend getaways from Tokyo possible?
Definitely – depending on budget and inclination. Travel between cities in Japan can be expensive, particularly via train. Buses are often cheaper, although they do take longer. The most popular destinations are Hakone, a mountain onsen (hot spring) site, the Izu peninsula or skiing in Hakuba in the winter. Nikko is also quite close by and is a wonderful location to visit during autumn when the leaves on the trees are breathtaking.
►For more information on cultural differences to be aware of, see Culture Shock in Japan.
Are you an expat living in Tokyo?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Tokyo. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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