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

Personal Experiences from Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan 01/26/24

Background:

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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


3. What years did you live here?

2022 to current.

View All Answers


4. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

View All Answers


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

DOS

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

DPO

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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

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

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


Pets:

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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

No, it is very safe.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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?

Good

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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

Yes, school sports and also rec teams.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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

It's safe.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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

NO WAY!

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Patience, bankroll and love for bureaucracy.

View All Answers


Subscribe to our newsletter


New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More