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The Ultimate Guide To Moving To Tokyo


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Kelsey Boggess



Welcome to the ultimate guide to moving to Tokyo, Japan’s vibrant capital city. Whether you’re planning to relocate for work, study, or simply to experience the unique blend of tradition and modernity that Tokyo has to offer, this comprehensive guide will provide you with all the essential information you need to make your move a success.


Tokyo is a city that never sleeps, renowned for its bustling streets, towering skyscrapers, and cutting-edge technology. But beyond its futuristic facade, Tokyo is also deeply rooted in history and culture, with countless temples, shrines, and traditional neighborhoods waiting to be explored.


Before you embark on your Tokyo adventure, it’s important to understand the city’s culture and lifestyle. From the concept of “omotenashi” (hospitality) to the importance of etiquette and respect, Tokyoites take pride in their traditions and customs. Familiarizing yourself with these aspects will help you navigate daily life and connect with the locals.


One of the key aspects of moving to Tokyo is finding a place to live. Tokyo offers a wide range of options, from modern apartments in the heart of the city to traditional houses in quieter suburban areas. We will guide you through the process of finding the perfect accommodation that suits your needs and budget.


Getting around Tokyo is a breeze thanks to its efficient and extensive transportation system. From the iconic Tokyo Metro to the convenient JR trains, you’ll be able to explore every corner of the city with ease. We’ll provide you with tips on how to navigate the complex network, buy tickets, and make the most of your commuting experience.


Once you’ve settled into your new home, you’ll need to set up essential services and utilities. From internet and mobile phone providers to electricity and water suppliers, our guide will help you navigate the process of getting everything up and running smoothly.


While English is widely spoken in Tokyo, learning some basic Japanese will greatly enhance your experience and interactions with the local community. We’ll provide you with an overview of the Japanese language and some useful phrases to help you communicate effectively.


Tokyo is a city of diverse neighborhoods, each with its own unique charm and vibe. From the bustling streets of Shibuya and Shinjuku to the serene ambiance of Asakusa and Yanaka, we’ll take you on a virtual tour of Tokyo’s most popular districts and help you decide which one is the perfect fit for you.


When it comes to shopping and entertainment, Tokyo is unrivaled. From glamorous department stores and trendy fashion boutiques to quirky thrift shops and traditional markets, you’ll find everything you need and more. We’ll also guide you through the city’s vibrant nightlife scene, from izakayas (Japanese pubs) to karaoke bars and nightclubs.


Your health and well-being are of utmost importance, so we’ll help you navigate Tokyo’s healthcare system and provide information on medical facilities and services available throughout the city.


Managing your finances is essential when moving to a new city. We’ll provide you with an overview of Tokyo’s banking system and tips on how to open a bank account, manage your money, and handle taxation.


If you’re moving to Tokyo with your family, we’ve got you covered. Our guide includes information on education options, from international schools to local Japanese schools, as well as childcare facilities and activities for children.


Being part of a community is vital when living abroad, and Tokyo offers a variety of expat communities and support networks. We’ll provide you with resources and tips to help you settle in and connect with like-minded individuals.


Respecting Japanese customs and etiquette is essential in order to integrate seamlessly into Tokyo’s society. We’ll give you insights into the do’s and don’ts, from bowing and gift-giving etiquette to dining customs and onsen (hot spring) etiquette.


Lastly, safety and security are important considerations when living in any city. Tokyo is generally regarded as a safe city, but it’s still important to be aware of your surroundings and take necessary precautions. We’ll provide tips on staying safe and navigating emergency situations.


With this ultimate guide to moving to Tokyo, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on your new adventure in one of the most exciting cities in the world. So, let’s dive in and get ready to make Tokyo your new home!


Understanding Tokyo’s Culture and Lifestyle

Tokyo is a city that seamlessly blends centuries-old traditions with modern innovations. Understanding the culture and lifestyle of Tokyo is crucial for anyone planning to move to this dynamic city.


One of the key aspects of Tokyo’s culture is the concept of “omotenashi,” which means hospitality. Tokyoites take great pride in providing excellent service and making visitors feel welcome. Whether you’re interacting with locals in a shop or restaurant, expect to be treated with warmth and respect.


Etiquette and respect for others are highly valued in Tokyo. Bowing is a common form of greeting and showing respect, but don’t worry if you’re not familiar with the practice. Tokyoites are understanding and appreciate the effort from foreigners. Politeness and consideration for others are also important, whether it’s giving up your seat on the train or maintaining a quiet demeanor in public spaces.


The work culture in Tokyo is renowned for its dedication and long hours. Many employees have a strong sense of commitment to their companies and go above and beyond to achieve success. It’s not uncommon for professionals in Tokyo to work late into the evening or even on weekends. This work ethic is deeply rooted in Japanese society, but it’s important to maintain a healthy work-life balance.


In terms of lifestyle, Tokyo offers a wide range of experiences for residents. The city is a center for fashion, art, and entertainment, with countless shopping districts, museums, galleries, and theaters to explore. You’ll find everything from high-end luxury boutiques to trendy thrift shops, allowing you to express your unique style.


Food is an integral part of Tokyo’s lifestyle, and the city is a haven for food enthusiasts. From world-class sushi and sashimi to hearty bowls of ramen and traditional izakayas serving a variety of small plates, Tokyo offers a culinary adventure like no other. You’ll also find international cuisines from around the world, making Tokyo a melting pot of flavors.


When it comes to leisure activities, Tokyo has something for everyone. Whether you’re a fan of sports, nature, or traditional arts, you’ll find plenty of options to indulge your interests. Cheer for the local baseball or sumo wrestling teams, explore the serene gardens of the Imperial Palace, or experience a traditional tea ceremony – Tokyo offers a diverse range of activities to suit all tastes.


Living in Tokyo also means being part of a city that never sleeps. The vibrant nightlife scene is unparalleled, with a plethora of bars, clubs, and entertainment venues to choose from. Explore the trendy nightlife districts of Shibuya and Roppongi, sip cocktails at a rooftop bar with stunning city views, or unwind in a cozy jazz bar – the options are endless.


Understanding and immersing yourself in Tokyo’s unique culture and lifestyle will enhance your experiences and help you form deeper connections with the city and its people. Embrace the traditions, explore the vibrant neighborhoods, and savor the diverse culinary delights – Tokyo is waiting to be discovered!


Finding a Place to Live in Tokyo

Finding the perfect place to live in Tokyo can be an exciting but daunting task. With a vast range of options and neighborhoods to choose from, it’s essential to consider your budget, lifestyle preferences, and commuting needs.


When it comes to accommodation in Tokyo, apartments are the most common and practical choice for both locals and expatriates. Tokyo offers a variety of apartment types, ranging from small studio apartments to spacious multi-room units. The rental prices vary depending on the size, location, and condition of the property.


The first step in finding a place to live is to set a budget. Rent in Tokyo can be quite expensive, especially in popular neighborhoods like Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Roppongi. However, there are also more affordable options in suburban areas or further away from the city center. It’s important to determine your budget and consider your priorities to find the right balance.


Location is another crucial factor to consider. Tokyo is divided into 23 special wards, each with its own distinct atmosphere and amenities. For example, if you prefer a bustling and vibrant urban environment, popular areas like Shibuya and Shinjuku might be a good fit. On the other hand, if you prefer a more relaxed and traditional neighborhood, areas like Asakusa or Yanaka might be more to your liking.


Accessibility and proximity to public transportation are key considerations in Tokyo. The city’s extensive train and subway network make it easy to get around, but you’ll want to make sure that your home is conveniently located near a station or bus stop to make your daily commute more manageable.


When searching for a property, it’s common to use a real estate agency. There are both Japanese and international agencies that specialize in assisting expatriates in finding suitable accommodation. These agencies can help you navigate the rental process and provide valuable insights into the market and negotiation tactics.


Another option for finding a place to live is through online platforms and classified advertisements. Websites like Suumo, Real Estate Japan, and GaijinPot have extensive listings and allow you to filter search results based on your preferences. Be wary of potential scams and always verify the legitimacy of the listings before making any commitments.


It’s worth noting that the rental process in Tokyo may require additional fees and paperwork. In addition to the monthly rent, you may need to pay a security deposit (usually equivalent to one to two months’ rent) and key money (a non-refundable gift to the landlord). You’ll also need to provide identification documents and proof of income or financial stability.


Ultimately, finding a place to live in Tokyo requires careful consideration of your budget, location preferences, and lifestyle needs. Take the time to explore different neighborhoods, consult with experts, and thoroughly research your options to ensure you find the perfect home in this bustling metropolis.


Navigating Tokyo’s Transportation System

Tokyo’s transportation system is known for its efficiency, punctuality, and comprehensive coverage, making it one of the best in the world. Navigating Tokyo’s trains, subways, and buses may seem intimidating at first, but with a few key tips, you’ll soon find it easy to get around the city.


The heart of Tokyo’s transportation system is the train network. The Japan Railways (JR) lines, including the Yamanote Line that circles central Tokyo, and the Tokyo Metro lines cover most areas of the city. Trains operate from early morning until midnight, with some lines running even later. Trains are known for their punctuality, so make sure to be on time to avoid missing your ride.


One of the most convenient ways to navigate Tokyo’s transportation system is by using a rechargeable smart card called Suica or PASMO. These cards can be used on trains, subways, buses, and even for purchases at convenience stores. Simply tap your card on the designated reader when entering and exiting stations to pay for your fare.


Subways are another important mode of transportation in Tokyo. The Tokyo Metro operates several lines that connect different parts of the city, offering an efficient way to travel underground. Subway stations are usually well signposted in English, making it easier for non-Japanese speakers to find their way.


Buses are also a viable option for traveling within Tokyo. While buses may be slower than trains, they can be a more convenient option depending on your destination. Bus routes cover both popular tourist areas and residential neighborhoods, offering a different perspective of the city as you travel above ground. Be sure to have the exact fare or use your Suica/PASMO card when boarding the bus.


If you’re traveling to Tokyo from overseas, Narita International Airport and Haneda Airport are the primary gateways. Narita Airport is further from the city center, but it is well-connected by trains, limousine buses, and taxis. Haneda Airport, located closer to central Tokyo, is easily accessible by train or monorail.


Taxis are available throughout the city, but they can be expensive compared to public transportation. Taxis are particularly useful for late-night travel when trains and buses are less frequent. It’s important to note that most taxi drivers in Tokyo do not speak English, so having your destination written in Japanese or using a map application on your phone will be helpful.


When using Tokyo’s transportation system, it’s important to be mindful of proper etiquette. Keep your voice down while in trains and refrain from eating or drinking on the platforms or inside the trains, as this is considered impolite.


To make planning your journey easier, various mobile applications and websites provide real-time train and bus information, including Google Maps, Hyperdia, and Japan Transit Planner. These tools will help you navigate the complex routes, find the fastest connections, and stay updated on any delays or disruptions.


With Tokyo’s efficient transportation system, you’ll be able to explore all that the city has to offer. Whether you’re commuting to work, visiting popular attractions, or venturing off the beaten path, Tokyo’s trains, subways, and buses will take you there with ease.


Essential Services and Utilities in Tokyo

When moving to Tokyo, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the essential services and utilities that will ensure a smooth transition and comfortable living. From internet and mobile phone providers to electricity and water services, understanding how to set up and manage these utilities is essential.


Internet and mobile phone connectivity are crucial for staying connected and navigating daily life in Tokyo. There are several providers to choose from, including NTT East and NTT West, which offer high-speed internet services. Many providers offer packages that include both internet and mobile phone plans, making it convenient to have all your services in one place.


Electricity in Tokyo operates on a standard voltage of 100 volts. Most electronic devices from countries with 120-volt systems will work fine, but it’s wise to have a voltage converter or transformer on hand for sensitive electronics. The electricity billing system in Tokyo is based on actual usage and is typically billed monthly or bi-monthly.


Water services in Tokyo are managed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Waterworks. Tap water in Tokyo is treated and safe to drink. However, some people prefer to use water filters or opt for bottled water for personal preferences. Water bills are typically billed every two months and can be paid at convenience stores or through bank transfers.


Gas services are commonly used for heating, cooking, and hot water in Tokyo. The gas company in your area will handle the installation and maintenance of gas meters and connections. Gas usage is typically billed bi-monthly or on a meter reading basis, depending on the service provider.


To ensure your safety and security, it’s important to have home insurance. Home insurance covers various damages to your property and possessions. There are several insurance providers in Tokyo, offering different coverage options. It’s recommended to compare policies and choose one that suits your needs and budget.


Waste disposal and recycling are significant aspects of living in Tokyo. Tokyo has a strict waste separation and recycling system, with designated days for different types of waste. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations in your ward or neighborhood to ensure proper disposal of trash and recycling.


When it comes to postal services, Japan Post is the main provider. They offer efficient and reliable mail delivery services within Tokyo and internationally. Local post offices are scattered throughout the city, and many offer additional services such as banking and bill payments.


Lastly, it’s important to have access to emergency services in case of any unforeseen circumstances. In Tokyo, the emergency hotline to dial is 110 for the police and 119 for medical emergencies and fire services. It’s advisable to have these numbers readily available and understand basic Japanese phrases for emergency situations.


By familiarizing yourself with essential services and utilities in Tokyo, you can easily set up and manage the necessary aspects of daily life. Whether it’s staying connected with internet and mobile services, ensuring a comfortable living environment with electricity and water, or being prepared for emergencies, these services play a vital role in making your transition to Tokyo a smooth one.


Learning the Language: Japanese Basics

While English is widely spoken in many parts of Tokyo, having some knowledge of the Japanese language will greatly enhance your experience and interactions with the local community. Learning the basics of the Japanese language will not only help you navigate daily life but also allow you to appreciate the nuances of Tokyo’s culture and connect with people on a deeper level.


Japanese is a fascinating language, but it can seem intimidating to learn at first. However, with dedication and practice, you can quickly acquire basic conversational skills. Here are some essential Japanese phrases and greetings to get you started:

  • Konnichiwa (こんにちは) – Hello
  • Arigatou (ありがとう) – Thank You
  • Gomen nasai (ごめんなさい) – I’m Sorry
  • Sumimasen (すみません) – Excuse Me
  • O-namae wa nan desu ka? (お名前は何ですか?) – What is your name?
  • Eigo ga wakarimasu ka? (英語がわかりますか?) – Do you understand English?
  • Daijoubu desu ka? (大丈夫ですか?) – Are you okay?
  • Oishii desu (美味しいです) – It’s delicious
  • Gomen nasai, wakarimasen (ごめんなさい、わかりません) – I’m sorry, I don’t understand

Getting familiar with essential vocabulary related to daily life activities and directions can also be helpful. These may include words like toire (toilet), kaimono (shopping), eki (train station), ginkou (bank), and koban (police station).


There are various language learning resources available to help you in your journey to learn Japanese. Online platforms like Duolingo, Memrise, and Rosetta Stone offer interactive lessons and practice exercises. Language exchange groups and conversation partners are also a great way to practice speaking and improve your fluency.


When communicating in Japanese, it’s important to be mindful of honorifics and politeness levels. Adding -san after someone’s name is a polite way to address them, equivalent to “Mr.” or “Ms.” Using -sama signifies a higher level of respect. It’s also common to use phrases like onegai shimasu (please) and otsukaresama desu (thank you for your hard work) to show respect in different situations.


Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and practice speaking with locals. Most people in Tokyo appreciate the effort and are patient with language learners. Using simple Japanese phrases in everyday interactions, such as ordering food at a restaurant or asking for directions, can go a long way in making connections and experiencing the warmth of Japanese hospitality.


Learning the basics of the Japanese language will open doors to deeper cultural understanding and enrich your experience in Tokyo. Embrace the opportunity to learn and explore this beautiful language as you connect with the people and immerse yourself in the vibrant city life of Tokyo.


Exploring Tokyo’s Neighborhoods

Tokyo is a sprawling metropolis composed of diverse neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and charm. From historic districts to modern entertainment hubs, exploring Tokyo’s neighborhoods is a must to fully experience the city’s vibrant tapestry.


Shibuya is one of Tokyo’s most famous and lively neighborhoods, known for its iconic scramble crossing and bustling shopping streets. Here, you’ll find department stores, trendy boutiques, and a wide range of restaurants and cafes. Shibuya is also a popular nightlife destination, with numerous clubs and bars where you can dance the night away.


For a taste of old Tokyo, visit Asakusa. This district is home to the historic Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, and Nakamise Shopping Street, lined with traditional shops selling snacks, trinkets, and souvenirs. Take a stroll along the Sumida River and enjoy the traditional atmosphere of this charming neighborhood.


Ginza is Tokyo’s luxury shopping district, with flagship stores and high-end boutiques showcasing the latest fashion and trends. The area is also famous for its upscale department stores, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants. Make sure to visit on weekends when the main street is closed to traffic, allowing pedestrians to roam freely.


In the trendy district of Harajuku, you’ll find a unique mix of fashion, youth culture, and creativity. Takeshita Street is a hub for quirky fashion boutiques, accessories, and themed cafes. Just a short walk away, the tranquil Meiji Shrine offers a peaceful retreat amidst the bustling city.


For a taste of Tokyo’s modernity, head to the futuristic district of Odaiba. Located on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay, Odaiba offers a stunning waterfront view of the city skyline. Explore shopping malls, amusement parks, and entertainment complexes, such as Palette Town and the Odaiba Seaside Park.


Further west, Shinjuku is a vibrant neighborhood known for its skyscrapers, neon lights, and entertainment options. Here, you’ll find the bustling Shinjuku Station, which holds the Guinness World Record for being the busiest train station in the world. Explore the entertainment district of Kabukicho, visit the serene Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, or marvel at the cityscape from the observation decks of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.


For a more laid-back atmosphere, visit the elegant neighborhood of Roppongi. Known for its expat community, Roppongi offers a vibrant nightlife scene with a plethora of bars, clubs, and international restaurants. The district is also home to the popular Roppongi Hills, a modern complex with shopping, dining, and cultural attractions.


These are just a few examples of Tokyo’s diverse neighborhoods, each with its own unique appeal. Whether you’re exploring traditional temples, trendy shopping streets, or modern entertainment complexes, Tokyo’s neighborhoods offer a captivating blend of tradition and modernity.


Take the time to explore and immerse yourself in the distinct vibes of each area, and you’ll discover the true essence of Tokyo’s dynamic and ever-evolving cityscape.


Shopping and Entertainment in Tokyo

Tokyo is a shopper’s paradise, offering a myriad of shopping experiences that cater to every taste and budget. From luxury flagship stores to quirky vintage shops, the city has it all. Alongside shopping, Tokyo’s vibrant entertainment scene ensures there’s never a dull moment.


Ginza, Tokyo’s upscale shopping district, is home to luxury brands and high-end department stores. Here, you’ll find flagship stores of international fashion houses, as well as renowned Japanese brands. Explore the elegant boutiques, browse the latest fashion trends, and indulge in gourmet dining at rooftop restaurants overlooking the city.


For trendy and eccentric fashion, Harajuku is the place to be. Takeshita Street is famous for its quirky boutiques, selling unique clothing, accessories, and cosmetics. The street is a hub for youth culture and creativity, where you can find the latest streetwear styles and playful fashion trends.


Shibuya is another shopping hub, known for its vibrant energy and diverse retail options. The Shibuya Center Street is filled with fashion boutiques and trendy shops catering to various styles and budgets. Don’t miss the massive Shibuya 109 building, a landmark for fashion-forward individuals.


For a blend of shopping and entertainment, head to Odaiba. Here, you’ll find large shopping complexes like Palette Town and VenusFort, offering a mix of international brands, electronics, and entertainment facilities. Don’t forget to visit DiverCity Tokyo Plaza, home to a life-sized Gundam statue and various anime-related shops.


If you’re looking for a more traditional shopping experience, visit the Ameya-Yokocho Market in Ueno. This bustling market stretches along the railway tracks and offers a vast array of street food, fresh produce, clothing, and souvenirs. Haggle with local vendors and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere.


When it comes to entertainment, Tokyo has plenty to offer. Catch a show at one of Tokyo’s renowned theaters, such as the Kabukiza Theatre for traditional Japanese kabuki performances or the Tokyo Disney Resort for family-friendly entertainment. For a taste of Japan’s vibrant pop culture, visit Akihabara, Tokyo’s electronics and anime district, where you’ll find an endless array of stores selling manga, anime merchandise, and electronics.


If you’re a fan of traditional arts, the National Noh Theatre in Sendagi showcases performances of Noh, a classical Japanese theater form. The Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre in Ikebukuro is another venue that hosts a variety of performing arts, including theater, ballet, and opera.


When night falls, Tokyo’s nightlife comes alive. Experience the vibrant energy of Shinjuku’s Kabukicho area, known for its illuminated neon signs, lively bars, and nightclubs. Roppongi is another popular nightlife destination, offering a mix of international restaurants, upscale bars, and clubs.


No matter your interests or style, Tokyo promises an unforgettable shopping and entertainment experience. From luxury shopping districts to street markets and from traditional performances to cutting-edge pop culture, the city never fails to provide a diverse and exciting range of options.


Dining and Nightlife in Tokyo

Tokyo is a haven for food lovers, boasting a diverse culinary scene that ranges from traditional Japanese delicacies to international cuisines. From Michelin-starred restaurants to humble street food stalls, you’ll find a dining experience to suit every palate. And when the sun sets, Tokyo comes alive with a vibrant nightlife offering a plethora of entertainment options.


When it comes to dining, Tokyo is renowned for its sushi. Visit Tsukiji Fish Market, the world’s largest seafood market, for a fresh and authentic sushi experience. You can also explore the sushi restaurants in places like Ginza and Roppongi, where you’ll find skilled sushi chefs crafting exquisite pieces of nigiri.


Ramen is another must-try dish in Tokyo. From rich and creamy tonkotsu (pork-based) ramen to tangy and savory miso ramen, you’ll find a variety of styles and flavors across the city. Head to Ramen Street in Tokyo Station or the Ramen Museum in Yokohama to sample delicious bowls from different renowned ramen shops.


Yakitori, or grilled skewered meat, is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Explore the narrow streets of Shinjuku’s Omoide Yokocho or the vibrant atmosphere of Yurakucho’s Gado-shita for a yakitori feast accompanied by an ice-cold beer or a glass of sake.


To experience Tokyo’s culinary diversity, visit the vibrant neighborhoods of Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Harajuku. These areas offer an abundance of international cuisines, from Italian and French bistros to Korean barbecue and Thai street food.


Don’t forget to explore Tokyo’s depachika, the food floors in department stores, where you’ll find an impressive selection of gourmet food items, pastries, and delicacies. This is the perfect place to pick up beautifully packaged souvenirs or indulge in a luxurious bento box.


When the sun goes down, Tokyo’s nightlife scene comes alive. Visit the popular nightlife districts of Shibuya and Roppongi for a vibrant and energetic experience. Enjoy cocktails at stylish bars, dance the night away at clubs, or try your luck at one of the city’s many entertainment venues.


If you’re looking for a more intimate and laid-back atmosphere, explore the hidden gems of Golden Gai in Shinjuku, a maze of narrow alleyways lined with tiny bars and pubs that offer a unique and nostalgic experience.


Kabukicho, Tokyo’s red-light district in Shinjuku, offers a mix of entertainment options, including bars, clubs, and karaoke establishments. It’s a lively and bustling area that never sleeps.


For a more refined and upscale night out, head to Ginza, where you’ll find elegant cocktail lounges, jazz bars, and luxurious dining experiences. Sip on meticulously crafted cocktails while enjoying live jazz music or indulge in a multi-course meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant.


Tokyo truly comes alive at night, offering an array of dining and entertainment options to suit every taste and preference. Whether you’re seeking a culinary adventure or looking to dance the night away, Tokyo’s dining and nightlife scene has it all.


Healthcare and Medical Facilities in Tokyo

Tokyo is known for its advanced healthcare system and a wide range of medical facilities that ensure residents and visitors have access to quality healthcare services. From hospitals and clinics to specialist centers, Tokyo offers comprehensive medical care to meet various healthcare needs.


Both public and private hospitals are available throughout the city. Public hospitals, such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Medical Information Center, provide a range of medical services at affordable rates. Private hospitals, such as the renowned Tokyo Medical University Hospital, often offer specialized treatments and services.


For non-emergency medical concerns, clinics and general practitioners (GP) are readily available in Tokyo. These clinics provide general healthcare services, vaccinations, minor surgeries, and consultations. Many clinics offer bilingual staff or have English-speaking doctors to cater to the needs of international patients.


Tokyo is also home to numerous specialist centers that cater to specific medical conditions or treatments. Whether you need dental care, dermatology, ophthalmology, or fertility treatments, you’ll find specialized clinics and centers that provide expert care in these areas.


Pharmacies, known as yakkyoku or kusuriya, are found throughout Tokyo. Most pharmacies stock a wide range of prescription and over-the-counter medications. If you have a prescription from a doctor, you can bring it to a pharmacy to have it filled. It’s important to note that pharmacies in Japan typically operate during regular business hours, and some may be closed on weekends and public holidays.


Health insurance is a crucial aspect of accessing healthcare services in Tokyo. It is mandatory for residents to have health insurance through either the National Health Insurance system or private health insurance plans. If you’re an expatriate, it’s advisable to check if your existing health insurance covers your stay in Japan, or you may need to arrange for additional coverage.


In case of emergencies, Tokyo has several well-equipped emergency hospitals, such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo Hospital and the Tokyo Metropolitan Matsuzawa Hospital. These hospitals have emergency departments that operate 24/7 and are equipped to handle a wide range of medical emergencies.


As an international visitor or expatriate in Tokyo, it’s important to familiarize yourself with medical facilities and services in your area. Keep important healthcare contact information handy, such as emergency contact numbers, the address of the nearest hospital, and your insurance details.


While language barriers may exist, many healthcare providers in Tokyo have English-speaking staff or offer interpretation services. It’s helpful to carry a translated copy of important medical documents or to have a translation app available to effectively communicate with healthcare professionals.


Tokyo’s healthcare system and medical facilities provide reliable and high-quality care. By being prepared and informed, you can ensure that you have access to the medical support you need during your time in Tokyo.


Managing Finances in Tokyo

Managing your finances effectively is essential when living in Tokyo. From banking and taxation to budgeting and currency exchange, understanding the financial landscape will help you navigate your day-to-day expenses and make the most of your finances.


Opening a bank account in Tokyo is a straightforward process. Most major banks, such as Mizuho Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), and Japan Post Bank, offer services in English and cater to international residents. You’ll need to provide identification documents, proof of residency, and your resident card to open an account. Having a local bank account will make it easier to manage your finances, receive your salary, and pay bills.


When it comes to taxation, as a resident of Tokyo, you’ll be subject to Japanese taxes. Income tax rates vary based on your income bracket, and it’s important to be aware of your tax obligations. The Japanese tax year runs from January to December, and tax returns are typically filed around March or April.


Currency exchange services are widely available in Tokyo. You can exchange currency at banks, post offices, or specialized currency exchange counters. ATMs are also available throughout the city, and many accept international debit and credit cards. Check with your bank to ensure your cards will work internationally and inform them of your travel plans to avoid any issues.


Creating and following a budget is crucial for managing your expenses in Tokyo. Tokyo can be an expensive city to live in, but with proper planning and budgeting, you can make the most of your finances. Consider your income, necessary expenses (such as rent, utilities, and groceries), and discretionary spending. Tracking your expenses and identifying areas where you can save will help you maintain financial stability.


When it comes to paying bills, many utility companies offer online payment options, allowing you to conveniently pay your bills through their websites or mobile apps. Setting up automatic payments for regular bills, such as rent and utilities, can help you avoid missed payments and late fees.


Tokyo has a vibrant shopping and entertainment scene, but it’s important to strike a balance between enjoyment and financial responsibility. Take advantage of free or inexpensive recreational activities, explore local markets for affordable shopping options, and consider setting aside a portion of your income for savings or future goals.


Managing your finances also means protecting your personal information and financial security. Tokyo is generally a safe city, but it’s important to remain vigilant and protect your financial information. Be cautious of phishing scams, secure your online banking access, and monitor your accounts for any suspicious activity.


Consider seeking professional financial advice if needed, especially for complex matters such as tax planning or long-term investment strategies. Consulting with a financial advisor or tax consultant can help you make informed decisions and maximize your financial resources while adhering to local regulations.


By staying organized, budgeting effectively, and being proactive in managing your finances, you can maintain financial stability and make the most of your experience living in Tokyo.


Education and Childcare in Tokyo

For families moving to Tokyo, ensuring access to quality education and childcare is a top priority. Fortunately, Tokyo offers a wide range of educational options, from international schools to local Japanese schools, to meet the diverse needs of families.


For expatriate families, international schools provide an opportunity for children to continue their education in their native language or follow a curriculum familiar to them. International schools in Tokyo offer various curricula, including the International Baccalaureate (IB), American, British, and other national educational systems. These schools often have a diverse student body and provide support for students adjusting to a new culture and environment.


One of the key considerations for families seeking education options in Tokyo is the availability of bilingual or English-speaking schools. These schools aim to provide a balance between the local Japanese curriculum and an English-based education. They often cater to both Japanese and international students and can be a good fit for families looking for a seamless integration of cultures.


For families interested in enrolling their children in local Japanese schools, Tokyo offers a wide range of options. Japanese schools follow the national curriculum, and proficiency in Japanese is usually required for admission. However, some schools offer special programs or support for foreign students who are non-native Japanese speakers.


In addition to formal education, Tokyo provides various early childhood education and childcare options. Daycare centers, known as hoikuen, provide childcare services for infants and young children. These centers offer a nurturing environment, educational activities, and play-based learning opportunities.


Preschools, or yochien, are also available for children aged 3 to 6 years old. Yochien focuses on early childhood education, helping children develop social skills, basic knowledge, and a love for learning. The curriculum typically includes a mix of play, art, music, and early literacy activities.


It’s important to note that demand for childcare and preschool spots in Tokyo can be high, so it’s advisable to start the application process well in advance. Many international schools and daycare centers have waiting lists, so early planning is crucial.


As Tokyo is a bustling city, families also often rely on after-school programs and extracurricular activities to enrich their children’s education and provide additional supervision. These programs can include sports clubs, music lessons, language classes, and more, catering to various interests.


When choosing an educational institution or childcare facility in Tokyo, consider factors such as proximity to your home, curriculum, facilities, and reputation. Visiting the schools or facilities, talking to current or former parents, and understanding the teaching philosophy can help you make an informed decision that suits your child’s needs.


With Tokyo’s range of diverse educational options, families can find suitable choices for their children’s education and childcare needs. Whether it’s international schools, bilingual programs, local Japanese schools, or early childhood education, Tokyo provides a conducive environment for children to thrive and grow academically and socially.


Expat Communities and Support in Tokyo

For expatriates living in Tokyo, connecting with fellow foreigners and accessing support networks can greatly ease the process of adjusting to a new environment. Fortunately, Tokyo has a vibrant expat community with various resources and support groups that cater to the needs of international residents.


One way to connect with fellow expats is through social and networking events. There are numerous expat-oriented events, such as language exchange meetups, culture and hobby clubs, and professional networking gatherings. These events provide opportunities to meet people from all over the world, share experiences, and establish friendships.


Online platforms and forums dedicated to expat communities in Tokyo are also valuable resources for information, advice, and connecting with like-minded individuals. Websites, social media groups, and forums such as InterNations or Tokyo Expat Network can greatly facilitate the process of building connections and finding answers to common expat questions.


Embassies and consulates are important sources of support for expats living in Tokyo. They provide assistance with visa issues, consular services, and often act as a point of contact for their citizens in Japan. Many embassies have community outreach programs and organize events to help their citizens integrate into the local community.


Tokyo also has numerous international associations and clubs that cater to specific nationalities or interests. These organizations provide a sense of community and offer cultural activities, language classes, social events, and support services. Participating in these associations can be an excellent way to connect with people from your home country and stay connected with your culture while embracing life in Tokyo.


There are also professional organizations and business chambers in Tokyo that provide networking opportunities, business support, and career development resources for expatriates working in various industries. These organizations often organize events, workshops, and seminars to facilitate professional growth and help expats navigate the local business landscape.


For families with children, Tokyo has thriving international schools and parents’ associations that provide support and resources for expat families. These associations often organize family-friendly events and offer a platform for parents to share information, advice, and experiences related to education, childcare, and family life in Tokyo.


Lastly, Tokyo has numerous support services that cater specifically to expatriates. These services may include relocation assistance, language classes, legal advice, housing support, and more. Expatriate service providers can offer valuable guidance and peace of mind during the transition and throughout the time spent in Tokyo.


By actively seeking out expat communities and support networks in Tokyo, expatriates can find a sense of belonging and gain access to valuable resources and assistance. Connecting with like-minded individuals, sharing experiences, and seeking support when needed can greatly contribute to a fulfilling and successful expat life in Tokyo.


Cultural Etiquette and Customs in Tokyo

When living or visiting Tokyo, understanding and respecting local cultural etiquette and customs is essential to ensure positive interactions and to show appreciation for Japanese traditions. Tokyoites place importance on politeness, respect, and harmonious relations, and adhering to these customs will help you navigate daily life and form meaningful connections with the locals.


Bowing is a common form of greeting and showing respect in Japanese culture. It’s customary to bow slightly when greeting someone, expressing gratitude, or apologizing. The depth and duration of the bow may vary depending on the situation and the person’s social status, but a simple nod of the head is generally acceptable in casual settings.


Exchanging business cards, or meishi, is an important part of Japanese business culture. When presenting or receiving a business card, do so with both hands and take a moment to read and acknowledge the card before carefully storing it. Treating business cards with respect is considered a sign of respect towards the person.


In public spaces, it’s important to be mindful of noise levels and to respect others’ personal space. Tokyo’s trains and buses, for example, are often crowded during rush hours. Maintain a quiet and orderly demeanor, avoid talking loudly on your phone, and give priority to elderly, disabled individuals, and pregnant women when it comes to seating.


When dining in Tokyo, it’s customary to say “itadakimasu” before beginning a meal, which is an expression of gratitude for the food. Eating etiquette is also important. Do not start eating until everyone is served, and if sharing dishes, use the opposite end of your chopsticks or serving utensils to take food from the communal plate. It’s also polite to say “gochisousama deshita” after finishing the meal to express appreciation for the food.


Japanese culture places a high value on cleanliness and hygiene. Many public places, such as train stations and restaurants, have designated areas for disposing of trash or smoking. It’s important to follow these guidelines and maintain cleanliness in public spaces. Avoid littering and separate your trash according to the specific recycling rules in your area.


Respecting personal boundaries and modesty is crucial in Japanese culture. Avoid overt displays of affection or loud and boisterous behavior in public. Be considerate of others’ privacy and refrain from taking photos or videos of individuals without their permission, especially in religious or sacred sites.


When visiting shrines and temples, it’s customary to cleanse yourself at the provided water basin before entering. A small ladle is used to pour water over your hands, which suggests purifying oneself before entering the sacred space. Be mindful of other visitors and adhere to any specific rituals or customs observed at each individual shrine or temple.


Lastly, patience, humility, and a willingness to adapt are valuable qualities to practice when interacting with the locals. Tokyoites appreciate visitors and residents who make an effort to understand and respect their customs, even if cultural differences can sometimes lead to misunderstandings. Showing understanding and being open to learning will enhance your experience in Tokyo and foster positive interactions with the local community.


By embracing the cultural etiquette and customs of Tokyo, you’ll not only show respect for local traditions, but also gain a deeper appreciation for the rich cultural heritage that shapes the city and its people.


Safety and Security in Tokyo

Tokyo is widely regarded as one of the safest cities in the world, with a low crime rate and a strong emphasis on public safety. While it’s generally a safe place to live or visit, it’s important to be aware of a few key tips to ensure your personal safety and security.


One of the notable aspects of Tokyo’s safety is the low incidence of violent crime. However, like in any city, it’s important to remain cautious and take common-sense precautions. Keep an eye on your belongings in crowded areas, such as train stations or shopping centers, and be mindful of pickpockets. Avoid displaying large amounts of cash or valuable items, and securely store your belongings when out and about.


Tokyo’s public transportation system is generally safe and reliable. However, crowded trains and stations can attract the attention of opportunistic thieves. Be vigilant and keep an eye on your belongings while traveling on public transportation, especially during peak hours.


Emergency services in Tokyo are highly efficient and readily available. In case of any emergencies, dial 110 for the police or 119 for medical emergencies and fire services. Most operators can understand basic English, but having important addresses or key contact information written down in Japanese can be helpful in times of urgency.


While Tokyo is a safe city, it’s still important to exercise caution when venturing out at night, particularly in entertainment districts or areas with heavy nightlife. Stick to well-lit and populated areas, and if you’re unsure of directions or need assistance, it’s always a good idea to ask for help from a reputable establishment, such as a hotel or convenience store.


Emergency preparedness is also important in Tokyo, as the city is prone to natural disasters like earthquakes and typhoons. Familiarize yourself with evacuation routes and emergency procedures in your area, and keep a disaster kit with essential supplies such as food, water, flashlights, and first aid supplies in case of emergencies.


Tokyo has a highly efficient healthcare system, and medical facilities are easily accessible. In the event of a medical issue or emergency, it’s important to have health insurance coverage to help ease the financial burden. Carry copies of important medical documents and prescriptions, and be aware of the location of nearby hospitals or clinics.


When it comes to personal safety, it’s always advisable to trust your instincts and be aware of your surroundings. Tokyo is generally a safe city, but being cautious and maintaining a sense of awareness can go a long way in ensuring your safety and security.


By staying informed, taking basic precautions, and being prepared, you can enjoy the wonders of Tokyo with peace of mind, knowing that you are in a city that prioritizes the safety and security of its residents and visitors.



Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of our comprehensive guide to moving to Tokyo. By now, you should have a solid understanding of Tokyo’s culture, lifestyle, and essential information that will help you settle into this vibrant and diverse city with confidence.


Tokyo offers a unique blend of tradition and modernity, providing endless opportunities for exploration and growth. From the bustling streets of Shibuya and the tranquil temples of Asakusa to the upscale shopping districts of Ginza and the entertainment hubs of Roppongi, Tokyo has something for everyone.


Understanding Tokyo’s cultural etiquette and customs will ensure smooth interactions with the locals and a deeper appreciation for the city’s rich heritage. Respecting personal space, practicing good manners, and embracing local customs will help you blend seamlessly into Tokyo’s society.


Whether it’s finding a place to live, navigating the efficient transportation system, managing your finances, or accessing healthcare services, Tokyo has you covered. The city’s infrastructure, support networks, and dedication to safety and security make it an ideal place to live, work, and thrive.


Don’t hesitate to seek out the expat communities and support networks available in Tokyo. They will provide you with a sense of belonging and offer invaluable resources, assistance, and friendship as you embark on your Tokyo adventure.


Immerse yourself in Tokyo’s diverse neighborhoods, indulge in its culinary delights, explore its cultural gems, and savor every moment. Tokyo is a city that will captivate your senses and leave a lasting impression.


With this ultimate guide, you are well-equipped to make the most of your journey to Tokyo. Embrace the opportunities, stay curious, and be open to new experiences. Tokyo welcomes you with open arms, ready to be your home and ignite your sense of wonder.


So, pack your bags, embark on this exciting adventure, and make Tokyo your own. Enjoy the bustling streets, soak in the rich history, explore the culinary delights, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of this extraordinary city. Tokyo is waiting to welcome you with open arms and offer you an unforgettable experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.