Tokyo, Japan Report of what it's like to live there - 01/26/24

Personal Experiences from Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan 01/26/24


1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, this is my seventh post.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington DC, USA. Not difficult direct and connection flight options, 14 to 20 hrs.

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3. What years did you live here?

2022 to current.

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4. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?


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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Townhomes and apartments. Dated for the most part but they function fine. Commute is an easy 10 minute walk.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Availability is good when you factor in base access. Cost is about 20% more than USA.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing specific, it may be hard to find some specific spices or items like pine nuts. It you can get all that via Amazon.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

They have absolutely everything available and lots of delivery or take out options.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not too bad, lots of the doors/windows don’t have screens but the bugs don’t seem too bad, occasional roach or spider.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?


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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

The availability seems good and most domestic help seem to be from the Philippines. Cost is around $15/hr.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Tons of options, not sure what the cost is as the compound has a good set up with a gym, pool and tennis/basketball courts.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes they are widely accepted. There are several systems that only take Japanese CC and that requires a Japanese bank account, which is difficult to get set up.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

It seems like most have English services available at least once a week.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Language is a huge help, you can get by without it but it will limit your options around the country. I would highly recommend at least a basic comprehension of Katakana.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Side walks are all laid out with texture strips for the blind, but being in a wheel chair would prove to be difficult around the country. All the housing on compound has stairs so they are by no means very user-friendly.

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1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, incredible public transportation system. Taxis are expensive but trains and buses seem reasonable.

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2. What kind of vehicle(s) including electric ones do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, infrastructure, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car or vehicles do you advise not to bring?

Huge local market for used and new vehicles and reasonable priced. Right-hand drive country so I would suggest buying when you arrive.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, you can get it set up right away if on compound.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I have both, but doing it over I would just keep US servic.e

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1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Good open for vets and kennels, Japan loves their dogs and cats but they are all very well behaved and expect yours to be as well in public. Taking a pet to Japan takes about nine months and, like most things here it is made a lot harder and longer than it should be in my opinion.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Some telecommute or work at the Embassy. Working on the local economy is difficult.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Black or dark suits for men is the norm and is more formal than other posts I have been. Think downtown NY or DC business dress. A couple formal events a year at most.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No, it is very safe.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care seems good and inexpensive compared to USA. If you are hospitalized you will be there a lot longer than you would stay at a hospital in the USA. What might be one day in the US would be three days here.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?


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4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Over-worked and overstressed seems the norm.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Really hot and humid in July and Aug, mild winters in Tokyo 30-50s.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Several option, most are about an hour away so that is the biggest negative, especially is you have younger kids.

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2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, school sports and also rec teams.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Very large. Morale is hit or miss.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

You get lots of opportunities through work events.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes to all, the city is massive and has something for every walk of life and stage of life.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Japanese people seem very polite and friendly. I have not had any issues making friends with them and have not noticed any issue with different ethnic groups.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I have no experience with this, but due to the city size I am sure it isn’t a problem.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not that I am aware of, as mentioned it is a huge city so I am sure there are some that are more accepting than others. Likewise I am sure you could find others that are not accepting but is seems easy enough to avoid those circumstances.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling around Japan and Asian in general has been great. Relatively inexpensive to got to Korea, Vietnam, Thailand. Travel in Japan is great but expensive.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Yes, lots of great cultural things you can pick up here.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It's safe.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How difficult and complex the Japanese system is for everything.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?


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3. But don't forget your:

Patience, bankroll and love for bureaucracy.

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