Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is a very clean and orderly megacity considering its size and population base, currently at around 12 million inhabitants. It has been estimated that up to 50 million people could be in Tokyo on any given business day. Metro Tokyo is a “province” (known as Tokyo-to [東京都]) and includes the cities of Tokyo, Machida, Tachikawa, etc.
The Chinese characters above means “East Capital” as the previous capitals were Nara then Kyoto, both in the Kansai region (which also incorporates Osaka). The city of Tokyo consists of 23 wards (ku in the Japanese language) and the areas where most expats reside are Chiyoda-ku, Minato-ku, Meguro-ku, Ohta-ku, Setagaya-ku, Shibuya-ku, Shinagawa-ku, and Shinjuku-ku.
Some well-noted neighborhoods full of expats (also known in street slang as “Gaijin Ghettoes”) include: Hiroo, Roppongi, Minami Azabu, Moto Azabu, Azabu Juban, Nishi Azabu, Minami Aoyama, Jingumae, Shoto, Uehara, Kami Osaki, Shimo Meguro, Kami Meguro, Aobadai, Yagumo, Ichibancho, Nibancho, Sanbancho, and Sanno.
The mass transit system including local trains and subways are incredibly thorough and schedules are adhered to very strictly. One of the most surprising aspects is to see buses arrive at bus stops on time for the most part, especially considering the havoc traffic jams can play. The subway lines are color coded to ease navigation. Very easy once you get accustomed.
Expatriate housing for families in Tokyo is priced in the neighborhood of 500,000 ~ 1.5 million yen (US$6,000 ~ $19,000 *) per month, which will include a parking space for one motor vehicle. Rents in Yokohama are cheaper but you will have to endure trains which are packed unless you leave the house early, e.g. 7 am to avoid peak commuting times or drive but the traffic on expressways on most days will be congested at 7 am. Still some expats choose to do so as the atmosphere in expat neighborhoods in Yokohama can be more family friendly. We can help you find a residence in Yokohama if you choose to live there.
Expatriates without families can find apartments for less than that (expat transferees usually live in apartments no less than Yen 250,000 per month US$3,200) but the floor space of an apartment in central Tokyo at that price would be equivalent to a loft in Manhattan. Obviously the further one travels from the city’s center the less the price per square meter.
* N.B.: As exchange rates change all the time, kindly convert using a website such as Oanda for more accurate conversions!
With its well-known temples and shrines situated near massive skyscrapers and its mix of old and new in almost every neighborhood, Tokyo is a work of contrasts. Polite and rude, clean yet dirty, gray yet colorful, cloudy and sometimes sunny, rich and poor, the city has an incredible amount of energy but it can also drain it from one just as quickly!
Yet for the expatriate family it is a very liveable city; although people who are active may get frustrated at the difficulty to get into nature at peak periods of travel, i.e. the weekends and holidays; convenient and services tend to be very good. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries related to living in Tokyo.
Tokyo Website Links
Tokyo Convention & Tourist Bureau – Site content includes tips and suggestions for tourists, description of convention facilities, local transportation, guides, and more.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government – Official government website of Tokyo-to, which covers Tokyo’s 23 wards, cities which are governed by Tokyo and the Ogasawara island chain.
Teito Rapid Transit Authority (TRTA) – One of Tokyo’s subway operators, site offers information about routes, fares and special tickets, history, and other content.
JR East – Railway operator for the Kanto region which includes Tokyo.
Tokyo American Club – Private membership club with many sports and social facilities primarily comprised of American expatriates with a growing number of members from Europe and Japan.
American School in Japan (ASIJ) – Site offers information about admissions, facilities, curriculum, and more.
Aoba-Japan International School – Two campuses in Tokyo, the Meguro campus offers nursery through pre-first grade for children, 1-6 years old, the Suginami campus accommodates children from pre-kindergarten through Grade 9.
The British School in Tokyo – The only school offering British curricula in Japan has two campuses in Tokyo.
Christian Academy in Japan – A private Christian school located in Higashi Kurume which provides curriculums from kindergarten through the 12th grade.
Columbia International School – Located in the Tokyo metro community of Tokorozawa (Saitama Pref.), curricula for grades 1 to 12.
India International School in Japan (IISJ) – CBSE affiliated school for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 at its Tokyo campus in Koto-ku and a Yokohama school in Midori-ku offering Kindergarten to Grade 4.
International School of the Sacred Heart (ISSH) – Located in Hiroo, all-girls K-12 school.
International Secondary School – Offers personalized academic programs through distance learning courses for middle school and high school levels.
K. International School Tokyo – Situated in Koto-ku, provides instruction for primary and junior high school students.
Lycee Franco-Japonais de Tokyo – Also known as the French School, provides instruction for children of French expatriates.
New International School – Bilingual international school located in Ikebukuro for pre-primary children to Grade 9.
Nishimachi International School – International school located in Minato Ward offering co-educational and nonsectarian atmosphere and curricula for kindergarten through grade nine.
Seisen International School – An all-girls Catholic school offering curriculums from K-12 (Kindergarten: coed; 1~12: girls only). Located in Yoga, Setagaya Ward.
St. Mary’s International School – All-boys school founded in 1954 which offers classes for K-12. Located in Seta, Setagaya Ward.
Tokyo Chinese School – Instruction in Chinese for children in grades 1-12; located in Gobancho, Chiyoda-ku.
Tokyo International School – An independent, co-ed, non-denominational school which offers pre-school and elementary school curricula and other programmes.
Tokyo Korean School – School for Korean students, grades 1 to 12, located in Shinjuku Ward.
Tokyo Musashikoyama International School – Offers an English Activities after-school programme for children in elementary school.
Houses of Worship
Archdiocese of Tokyo – Info on the Sekiguchi (St. Mary) Church and the Archdiocese of Tokyo.
Committed Fellowship Tokyo – Meets in Chofu, has praise and children’s church services Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings.
Grace Christian Fellowship – Non-denomination Christian church located in Ome-shi, which is situated in the western sector of the Tokyo metro.
Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo – Known in Japanese as “Nicorai-do”, was built in 1891 and is located near Ochanomizu Station.
International Christian University Church – Located in the center of ICU’s campus in Mitaka.
Islamic Center – Japan – Located in Ohara, Setagaya-ku, an independent, non-commercial and non-political organization of Muslims in Japan.
Jesus Lifehouse Church – Holds services in Harajuku, Tameike Sanno and Ochanomizu.
Jewish Community of Japan – Has Shabbat services every Friday evening, followed by a kosher dinner, and organizes a variety of cultural events and social activities.
Mission Aid Christian Fellowship – Conducts an English afternoon service every Sunday near Ochanomizu Station at Irene Hall in Ochanomizu Christian Center.
Orthodox Church in Japan – Established in Japan from Russia by St. Nicholai in the 19th century, located in Kanda Surugadai, Chiyoda-ku.
St. Alban’s Anglican Cathedral – The only English-speaking Anglican church in Tokyo, located across from the Tokyo Tower.
St. Ignatius Church – Jesuit church situated on the campus of Sophia University’s Yoyogi campus.
St. Paul International Lutheran Church – Situated in Chiyoda-ku in Fujimi 1-chome.
Seventh-Day Adventist Church – Located in Harajuku.
Tokyo Baptist Church – Situated in the center of Tokyo on Kyu-Yamate Dori, near Daikanyama Station.
Tokyo Church of Christ – Located in Tomigaya, Shibuya Ward.
Tokyo Peace Church – Located in Nishi Waseda, Shinjuku-ku, attendees comprised of many different nationalities.
Tokyo Union Church – Located along trendy Omotesando, composed of Christians from many churches and nationalities.
Asahi Shimbun – Offers Japan news, features from the New York Times and updates from the Silicon Valley via the San Jose Mercury News.
Daily Yomiuri – English-language version of the Yomiuri Shimbun, one of the largest-circulated newspapers in the world. News, weather, foreign exchange rates, features, and other content.
InterFM – Japan’s international radio station.
Japan Times – Site content includes updated news, business information, editorials, art and culture features, in addition to other information.
Mainichi Daily News – Features include Top News and Today’s Headlines, editorials, features, and more.