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Moving to Tokyo

The very definition of glitz and glamour, Tokyo is an ultramodern, densely populated megacity set against a picturesque backdrop of the magnificent Mount Fuji. Expats moving to Tokyo will have to keep up with the city's frenetic energy as a seemingly endless array of opportunities and activities abound. One thing is for sure – life is never dull in this Japanese giant.

Living in Tokyo as an expat

The greater Tokyo area is the largest metropolitan area in the world and is home to nearly 38 million inhabitants. Expats will find it hard to escape the crowds, with traffic and long queues everywhere.

Since Tokyo was razed during the fire bombings of World War II, the small, traditional Japanese façades have almost entirely been replaced by a modern concrete jungle. Still, despite the fast pace of this cosmopolitan hub, there are backstreets even in the heart of the city that can be quite tranquil. These areas provide charming accommodation.

Tokyo's public transport system is ultra-efficient and is considered one of the world's best. The well-integrated system includes underground trains (subways), over-ground trains, buses and trams, with plenty of taxis available to supplement. As a result, the city is extraordinarily accessible, even to newly arrived expats.

Cost of living in Tokyo

Shopping is a primary Japanese pastime, and there's no better place to indulge in this than Tokyo. While the constantly evolving consumer culture that permeates the city makes it an exciting place to live, the cost of this lifestyle is high. In fact, Tokyo regularly tops lists of the world's most expensive cities. Those with limited funds may find it challenging to stick to their budget, although avoiding the pricier entertainment options and opting for free activities instead can save a significant amount of money.

Still, even standard living costs like accommodation, food, and (for expats with kids) schooling can be eye-wateringly high. For this reason, expats moving to Tokyo will need to ensure that they will be earning enough to sustain themselves comfortably in the city.

Expat families and children

Despite Tokyo's fast-moving lifestyle, the city is a fantastic place to raise children. With some of the world's most exciting family attractions (such as Legoland and Tokyo Disneyland), finding something to keep the kids entertained is never hard.

Expat parents moving to Tokyo with children of school-going age are often nervous about Japanese education's negative reputation. While these concerns have some validity in the public system, plenty of private international schools employ the curricula, teaching style and language of countries such as the UK and the US. Though these schools are often pricey, expat parents find they tend to smooth the difficult transition of starting at a new school in a new country. It's also a great way to meet fellow expat families.

Climate in Tokyo

While the weather in Tokyo isn't much to write home about, it's not especially unpleasant either. Winters are mostly sunny and mild, while summers are hot and humid. The main weather event expats will need to look out for is typhoons, which are most likely to occur between June and October. In the event of a typhoon, it's best to head home, sit tight and await instructions from the authorities.

It's often said that the people make the city, and Tokyo is no exception. Most Japanese locals are welcoming and proud of their city and are invested in helping newcomers have a positive experience. Expats who reciprocate the locals' kindness and attempt to converse in Japanese will surely find themselves making local friends in no time.

Weather in Tokyo

The climate in Tokyo is temperate, with fairly mild and sunny winters, though there may be some cold, snowy and windy days that are less pleasant. The average maximum during this period is around 50°F (10°C). On the other hand, summers tend to be hot and humid, with highs reaching up to 95°F (35°C).

Between June and October, the city can be affected by typhoons. Peak typhoon season is in August and September, and this time of year can bring strong winds and torrential rains that lead to heavy damage. During a typhoon, it's crucial to follow instructions from local authorities and disaster management agencies, which might involve staying indoors or evacuating, depending on the severity of the situation. Typhoons can impact daily life significantly, leading to disruptions in transport and other services. It's therefore important to be prepared and stay updated on the situation.


Pros and Cons of Moving to Tokyo

Whether moving to Tokyo for a short-term job opportunity or being drawn in by Japanese culture, language and cuisine, expats living in this massive metropolis are bound to encounter ups as well as downs. 

An expat's perception of life in Tokyo may differ depending on their personality, interests, background or occupation. For instance, the life of an international student on a tight budget studying at a Tokyo university will be entirely different to that of a businessperson working in a top executive position in the Japanese capital. Nevertheless, those with an open mind and determination to overcome potential barriers will be able to appreciate their time in this city.

Below is a list of the pros and cons of relocating to Tokyo.

Accommodation in Tokyo

+ PRO: High standard of housing in expat areas

Most expats find that the standard of facilities in Tokyo apartments and houses is high. Most areas that are popular among expats are well connected to amenities, supermarkets, restaurants, public transport links and schools. That said, living spaces are typically smaller than most expats may be used to, and new arrivals may need to compromise on either their rent or property size.

- CON: Costly to secure a property for rent

When looking for modern, spacious accommodation, expats will soon feel the weight of living in one of the world's most expensive cities. Rent is a major expense, and utilities are normally an additional cost. Some apartment blocks also charge a maintenance fee. Expats must also budget for at least one month's deposit and agent and guarantor fees when securing their lease.

Getting around in Tokyo

+ PRO: Extensive and efficient public transport networks

Transport in Tokyo is efficient, wide reaching and well integrated. Regular passengers should get an IC card, a rechargeable smart card to use on all Tokyo's modes of public transport, including buses, trains and the subway, as well as some shops. Expats can easily get around without driving a car, which saves on fuel expenses too.

- CON: Confusing for new arrivals to navigate

Tokyo is considered the world's largest metropolis by some measures, which can be overwhelming to visitors and newly arrived expats. Crowds are unavoidable during rush hour, and battling the hustle and bustle can seem nightmarish. A newly arrived expat can begin to orient themselves by taking a train or the subway during off-peak times. Thanks to maps and signs in multiple languages, including English, and apps such as Google Maps, getting lost need not be a significant concern in the long run.

Cost of living in Tokyo

- CON: Expensive city

The cost of living in Tokyo consistently ranks among the highest in the world. While an expat's salary may appear lucrative, they will have to ensure it can support all their expenses, especially rent and, for families with school-aged children, international school fees.

+ PRO: Healthcare-related savings

Expats employed in Tokyo may benefit from employment packages and contracts that cover a portion of medical costs. Additional medical insurance to cover remaining healthcare costs is highly recommended in Tokyo, and it's worth negotiating an allowance for this, as it could save money in the long run. 

Education and schools in Tokyo

+ PRO: Excellent school system

Whether expats opt for a public, private or international school, they will likely find a high standard of facilities and qualified and capable teachers. Public education can save expats a lot of money on fees and help young kids who plan to stay in Tokyo long term to integrate into their new lives. On the other hand, international schools usually allow for a smoother transition as they cater to international students.

- CON: Difficult balance between learning environments and school fees

State schools across Japan are known for pressuring students to obtain top marks. This can be a stressful experience that not all expat children are used to or can adjust to. While it can be circumvented by opting for an international school instead, fees and extra costs are incredibly high.

Lifestyle in Tokyo

+ PRO: Impossible to get bored

There is so much to see and do in Tokyo. From Sensō-ji, the city's oldest Buddhist temple, to the Eiffel-Tower-inspired Tokyo Tower, there are numerous tourist attractions and landmarks that are considered must-sees. Shopaholics will find themselves in paradise, especially along Takeshita Street, a popular pedestrian shop-lined street, while an exciting array of annual events keeps everyone busy.

+ PRO: Opportunities for quiet escapes

A bustling megacity with diverse amenities and a population of over 37 million across the greater Tokyo area, over-stimulation can easily stress out an expat residing in Tokyo. Fortunately, the city can be surprisingly quiet outside tourist and commercial areas and transport hubs.

Places such as Ueno Park and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden offer an escape into nature. They are particularly beautiful when the pink-and-white cherry blossoms, or sakura, spring to life.

+ PRO: Endless fun for families with kids

Expat families with children moving to Tokyo will find countless activities to keep them occupied. Expats can take their pick of family-friendly distractions, from the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation to Tokyo Disneyland.

- CON: Difficult work-life balance

Life in Tokyo often seems to be all 'work hard' without any 'play hard'. With long business hours and few statutory paid leave allowances, it's not uncommon to feel burnt out when working here. To avoid this, some expats try to get out of the city for a weekend break and find themselves relaxing in the hot spring resorts in Hakone and the Izu Peninsula or hiking, skiing and snowboarding in Hakuba during winter.

Healthcare in Tokyo

+ PRO: Access to Japan's National Health Insurance

Japan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) system is comprehensive and efficient, covering about 70 percent of all healthcare costs. All residents, including expats, are legally required to have health insurance. The monthly premium is based on income, ensuring that it's affordable for everyone.

The NHI allows expats to access a vast network of clinics and hospitals. However, some private and high-end medical facilities may not accept NHI, and services at these places could be costly. Always verify what is covered before using any medical service.

Cost of Living in Tokyo

Tokyo is infamous for its high cost of living, which is often a major concern for expats moving to the city. In 2023, Tokyo ranked 19th out of 227 expat cities evaluated in Mercer's Cost of Living Survey. It's much pricier than cities such as Osaka (ranked 93rd) when it comes to major expenses like accommodation. But with the lucrative salaries offered in Tokyo, it is still possible for expats to build a comfortable life here.

Cost of accommodation in Tokyo

The most significant expense an expat will have in Tokyo is accommodation. Apartments are the most popular form of housing for expats. Monthly rental fees can be sky-high for an apartment that is typically much smaller than expats are used to.

Expats should also remember that other fees are involved when moving into a new place. Extra costs that need to be budgeted for are deposits, key money, the first month's rent in advance and agency fees. Additionally, expats will also need to pay for their monthly utilities, as these are not usually included in the monthly rental price. 

Cost of transport in Tokyo

Due to the high cost of parking in Tokyo, most expats choose to use public transport instead of owning a car. In comparison to other Asian capitals such as Seoul, public transport is expensive in Tokyo, but it's also highly efficient.

Cost of groceries in Tokyo

When it comes to food, standards are exceptional. The price of fresh produce in Tokyo is higher than some expats may be used to, but the quality is top-notch, and seafood is relatively cheap. Many supermarkets offer evening discounts to get rid of the day's stock.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Tokyo

As an international metropolis, Tokyo offers a vast array of entertainment options, varying wildly based on preferences and lifestyle choices. From sumptuous fine-dining experiences to affordable local eateries, Tokyo's food scene is diverse and caters for all budgets. For those on a budget, bentos from convenience stores or meals from department store food courts are affordable and delicious alternatives to pricier restaurants.

The city also has various attractions, kid-friendly activities and annual events and festivals. While some of these activities may come with an entrance fee, plenty of low-cost or free activities are available for those looking to enjoy the city on a budget. From strolling in one of Tokyo's beautiful parks to exploring the vibrant local neighbourhoods, there is always something to do in this bustling city.

Cost of education in Tokyo

Education in Tokyo, while of high quality, can be a substantial expense for expat families. The majority of these families opt to enrol their children in schools that offer a foreign curriculum. The international schools in Tokyo teach curricula such as the International Baccalaureate and are renowned for their exceptional educational standards, but tuition fees can vary significantly from one institution to another.

Besides tuition, parents should be prepared to budget for additional costs such as registration fees, uniforms, books and excursions. Scholarships and financial aid might be available in some schools, but they are not guaranteed.

Cost of healthcare in Tokyo

The standard of healthcare in Tokyo is excellent, with state-of-the-art medical technology and a comprehensive range of services available. The city is equipped with a broad network of hospitals and clinics, many of which offer services in English and other foreign languages, catering to the diverse expat population in the city. However, the cost of healthcare can be relatively high compared to other cities around the world.

All residents, including expats, are required by law to be covered by health insurance in Japan. This can be through the national health insurance scheme or a private insurance plan. National health insurance typically covers 70 percent of healthcare costs, with the patient paying the remaining 30 percent out-of-pocket.

Cost of living in Tokyo chart

Note that prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows the average prices for Tokyo in June 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

JPY 320,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

JPY 165,000

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

JPY 142,000

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

JPY 84,000

Food and drink

Dozen eggs

JPY 290

Milk (1 litre)

JPY 198

Rice (1kg)

JPY 370

Loaf of white bread

JPY 191

Chicken breasts (1kg)

JPY 550

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

JPY 600

Eating out

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

JPY 6,000

Big Mac meal

JPY 710

Coca-Cola (330ml)

JPY 160


JPY 450

Bottle of beer (local)

JPY 290


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

JPY 52

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

JPY 4,600

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

JPY 25,000


Taxi rate/km

JPY 420

City-centre public transport fare

JPY 150

Gasoline (per litre)

JPY 166

Accommodation in Tokyo

Accommodation in Tokyo comes at a premium, as does most housing in large, overpopulated cities. While the standard of accommodation is excellent, many an expat has found that the properties are far smaller than what they are accustomed to back home.

Naturally, due to the short-term nature of expat assignments, most people rent rather than buy property. However, rentals do move quickly in Tokyo, and expats should do some research on the processes involved in securing accommodation in the city before they make the move.

Areas and suburbs in Tokyo

From historical districts to urban sprawl, Tokyo's diverse neighbourhoods are as multifaceted as the city itself. Be it a love for the hustle and bustle of downtown, or a preference for quieter, more residential areas, there is a perfect spot for everyone.

The city's popular areas among expats often balance work and leisure amenities. Central districts like Minato, Shibuya and Chiyoda are renowned for their business hubs, entertainment centres and excellent connectivity. Minato, in particular, is a favourite for its upscale shopping, dining and cultural spots. Shibuya, home to the famous Shibuya crossing, offers a lively atmosphere teeming with restaurants, while Chiyoda, where the Imperial Palace resides, boasts a mix of modernity and tradition.

On the other hand, neighbourhoods like Setagaya and Meguro offer a more suburban feel, with plenty of green spaces, serene temples and a network of canals. These areas, though quieter, are still comfortably close to central Tokyo, making them an ideal choice for families and those seeking a tranquil respite from the city's fast pace.

For a slice of Tokyo's historical charm, areas like Taito and Sumida are perfect. Home to the famous Senso-ji temple and the Tokyo Skytree respectively, these districts offer an array of traditional shopping streets, food stalls and artisanal craft shops.

See Areas and Suburbs in Tokyo to learn more about the areas most popular with expats.

Types of accommodation in Tokyo

Due to the lack of space, most people live in apartments in Tokyo. Larger family homes with gardens are available but will be located further from the city centre.

In Tokyo, smaller and older apartments or apato are particularly common in densely populated districts like Toshima and Shinjuku. The more modern and spacious manshon are more prevalent in newer areas like Chiyoda and Minato.

Many single expats living in Tokyo for a year or two opt to live in shared housing, commonly called gaikokujin housing for its popularity with foreigners, in which all the residents share living areas, kitchens and bathrooms. This type of accommodation is cheaper than renting an apartment and also has the added benefits of shorter notice periods and lower initial costs.

Many apartments in central Tokyo districts like Shibuya, Shinjuku and Roppongi are rented entirely unfurnished. This includes no white goods, such as refrigerators or washing machines. However, in districts like Nakano and Koto, it's more common to find apartments partially furnished with essential white goods.

Finding accommodation in Tokyo

While it's possible to find a property in Tokyo using online resources and newspaper property listings, most expats don't make much progress through these channels because of the language barrier. In the more internationally oriented districts such as Roppongi, Akasaka or Hiroo, it's more common to find real estate agents who cater to English-speaking clients. In these areas, landlords are generally more open to renting to foreigners, easing the process for expats.

For this reason, most new arrivals prefer to enlist the services of a real estate agent. These professionals have a comprehensive knowledge of suitable properties in the area and are in a position to find accommodation that meets the needs and budget of their clients.

Furthermore, many landlords are reluctant to rent to foreigners without the security of using a reputable agent or at least a Japanese guarantor.

Renting accommodation in Tokyo

Making an application

Securing accommodation in Tokyo typically involves a series of steps. The process begins with a property viewing, which is often arranged by a real estate agent. If the property is suitable, the potential tenant fills out an application form which, along with a copy of their identification, is then submitted to the landlord or property management company for approval.

Many landlords in Tokyo prefer tenants with a stable income, so proof of employment, typically in the form of a contract or payslip, is often requested. Foreigners may also need to provide their Residence Card, a document issued upon arrival in Japan.

It's worth noting that not all landlords rent to foreigners due to language barriers or cultural differences. Therefore, expats may have to apply for multiple properties before their application is accepted.

Leases, deposits and fees

The cost of renting in Tokyo is not merely the monthly rent. A number of fees can accompany the rental process, significantly impacting the overall cost. Commonly, an initial deposit, typically equivalent to one or two months' rent, is required. This is refundable at the end of the lease, less any deductions for damages or unpaid bills.

Apart from the deposit, a key money or 'gratitude money' is often expected. This is a non-refundable payment to the landlord, usually equivalent to one or two months' rent. Additionally, there are agent fees, which are typically equivalent to one month's rent. This fee is paid to the real estate agent for their services in securing the property.

Lease agreements are usually for two years in Tokyo, and renewal fees (usually equivalent to one month's rent) are often requested upon renewal. Rent is typically paid monthly in advance, and some landlords may ask for the first and last month's rent up front.

See Accommodation in Japan for detailed information on the rental process in the country.

Utilities in Tokyo

In Tokyo, utilities are typically not included in the rent, adding to the list of considerations for expats. Services are often billed bi-monthly rather than monthly, which is an important detail to bear in mind during budgeting. Prompt set-up of these services upon moving in is essential for residents to avoid service interruption.

The cost of utilities can vary by district in Tokyo. For example, in older residential districts like Taito and Sumida, utilities may be slightly cheaper than in the modern, high-rise districts such as Minato and Chiyoda.


Electricity in Tokyo is supplied by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). The company provides reliable service, but costs can be quite high, especially during the summer months when air conditioning units are heavily used. Expats need to contact TEPCO directly by phone or through their website and provide their address. Bimonthly bills can be paid via bank transfer or at a convenience store.


Gas in Tokyo is primarily supplied by Tokyo Gas. It is used for cooking, water heating and home heating. The cost of gas, like electricity, can be relatively high, particularly during the winter months. Residents start a new contract by contacting Tokyo Gas via their website or by phone. After installation, bimonthly bills are issued which can be paid at a convenience store or via direct debit from a bank account.


Water service is provided by the Bureau of Waterworks in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The water in Tokyo is safe to drink straight from the tap, and the service is reliable. After moving in, residents need to contact the Bureau to set up their water supply. Bills are generally sent out every two months and can be paid online, at a convenience store or by direct debit.

Waste disposal

Waste disposal is managed by the local municipality in Tokyo, and each ward can have its own specific rules. For example, Shinjuku and Setagaya wards have different waste separation rules and collection days. It is important for residents to check with their local ward office to understand the specific rules in their area.

Tokyo operates a strict recycling policy, making it essential for expats to follow the rules for disposing of burnable, non-burnable and recyclable waste. Consult the Bureau of Environment Tokyo to understand Tokyo's waste disposal system.

Internet and telephone

There are many internet service providers in Tokyo, such as NTT East, SoftBank and au. As for mobile services, the major providers are NTT Docomo, SoftBank and au. When choosing a provider, expats should compare the cost, speed, contract terms and customer service. Internet and mobile services can be set up by contacting the providers directly or by visiting their stores. Most providers require a contract, but there are also options for prepaid services if a long-term agreement is not preferable.

Certain districts may offer better internet connectivity due to the presence of business hubs. Districts like Chiyoda and Minato are known for high-speed internet, whereas more residential districts might have slower internet speeds.

Areas and suburbs in Tokyo

The best places to live in Tokyo

At first glance, it may seem impossible for an expat moving to Tokyo to consider where to live in a city that's one of the world's most extensive and expensive.

Tokyo is a massive metropolis comprising small distinct neighbourhoods, several of which form a ward or ku. There are 23 wards in total within Tokyo. Minato, Shibuya and Meguro are particularly popular with expats.

These areas and suburbs in Tokyo are ideal for expats who prefer a locale that can offer plenty of international interaction as well as supermarkets and shopping options that shelve familiar items from home.

Factors to consider when choosing an area or suburb of Tokyo

Most foreigners search for housing in Tokyo with the guidance of a real estate agent, which can be a great advantage for expats needing to understand all there is to know before making a final decision about accommodation.

There's a long list of factors to consider when choosing which house to make one's home in Tokyo. In many cases, the essential variables may differ dramatically from what took priority in an expat's home country.

Most people living in Tokyo choose not to own a car, so access to public transport will be a priority. It's also vital to consider the commute to and from work or school for those with children.

Those moving to Tokyo with children will also need to consider the proximity of an area to good schools. Most international schools in Tokyo are located in the heart of the city.

When choosing an area, expats should ensure that the type of housing they're looking for is available in that area. For instance, Akasaka comprises mainly high-rise buildings, but it's possible to find some very nice homes in Shirokanedai, Hiroo and Moto Azabu.

City living in Tokyo



Located in central Tokyo's Minato Ward, Akasaka means 'Red Hill' and is home to the US Embassy. This thriving business area is frenetic during the daytime, with excellent nightlife once the sun goes down. Weekends here are blissfully quiet in contrast to the constant bustle of workers during the week. Expats will find state-of-the-art high-rises here with fantastic views of the city.


Walking in Daikanyama feels different to other areas in Tokyo. The architecture is eclectic, the people are eccentric, and the shops and restaurants are quirky. Known as 'Little Brooklyn' as a reference to the New York City borough, it's said to be one of Tokyo's best-kept secrets. While it may not be one of the most convenient areas to live in, it is one of the most unique.


Omotesando Dori resembles the Champs-Élysées in Paris or Fifth Avenue in New York City. It's a beautiful tree-lined street – quite unique to Tokyo – and filled with high-end designer shops and department stores. Many smaller boutiques can be found in the backstreets of Omotesando and the neighbouring area of Harajuku. 

Although Omotesando is primarily a commercial area, residential pockets are tucked away among the boutiques and cafés. Though not a cheap place to live, if an expat is passionate about Omotesando and willing to settle on something older, smaller and more expensive, this may be a happy compromise.

Family life in Tokyo



The quiet, ancient streets of the Azabu area twist and turn up hills and down alleys, winding around parks. Expats will find many embassies tucked away within streets adjacent to large homes and small apartment buildings. This area lacks the massive high-rises typical in other expat areas.

For those looking for an authentically Japanese neighbourhood, Azabu has it all. It is, however, one of the most expensive areas to live in Tokyo. Many expat bankers live here with their families. This neighbourhood is abundant with green spaces, international supermarkets and pre-schools, shops, cafés, bars and restaurants.

Shirokane and Shirokanedai

Shirokane and Shirokanedai (two areas divided by Meguro Dori) are neighbourhoods to consider if wanting to live in a house rather than an apartment. This area is known to be primarily residential and not as commercial as the other expat neighbourhoods surrounding it. It's also home to Platinum Dori, the main shopping street in the area, which features high-end shops and cafés.

Healthcare in Tokyo

Expat healthcare in Tokyo and healthcare in Japan as a whole are of good quality. Health insurance is mandatory and is partially funded by compulsory contributions determined according to annual income.

There are two main nationalised healthcare schemes in Japan – Employees' Health Insurance for those working in the country, and National Health Insurance, which covers those ineligible to use Employees' Health Insurance.

The government covers between 70 and 90 percent of costs, with the patient responsible for the balance. Certain procedures might not be covered, and some purchase private health insurance for extra coverage. Private health insurers require that patients pay upfront for treatment and then submit receipts for reimbursement. The insurer then refunds the approved amount to the policyholder.

Pharmacies are widely available throughout Tokyo, and many are open 24 hours. They can be identified by a green cross symbol. Over-the-counter medication is available for minor ailments, but for more serious conditions, a prescription from a doctor is required.

Medical facilities in Tokyo are typically marked with a blue "H" sign, indicating a hospital, or a green cross, indicating a pharmacy. It's important to note that while English-speaking staff are common in larger hospitals and clinics, this may not be the case in smaller facilities or pharmacies.

Non-Western medicine, such as traditional Japanese Kampo medicine, acupuncture, and moxibustion, is also prevalent in Japan. These treatments are often used in conjunction with Western medicine and are sometimes covered by Japanese health insurance.

Below is a list of prominent hospitals in Tokyo.

Hospitals in Tokyo

Japanese Red Cross Medical Center

Address: 4 Chome-1-22 Hiroo, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-8935

Juntendo University Hospital

Address: 2-1-1 Hongo, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 113-8421

St Luke's International Hospital

Address: 9-1 Akashi-cho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8560

Tokai University Tokyo Hospital

Address: 1-2-5 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0053

Tokyo Medical and Dental University Hospital

Address: 1-5-45 Yushima, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 113-8519

University of Tokyo Hospital

Address: 7 Chome-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 113-8655

Education and Schools in Tokyo

Expat families often choose international schools in Tokyo for their children. These schools cater to international students' specific needs, offering a continuity of education with curricula from their home countries. This makes the transition into life in Tokyo smoother.

Tokyo's international schools serve a diverse range of nationalities and adhere to various international curricula, predominantly American or British. The globally renowned International Baccalaureate is also a popular choice. There are over 40 international schools in Tokyo. Admission requirements, tuition fees and additional costs vary widely among these schools.

Local public schools in Tokyo are also an option – one that is generally best suited to families staying in Japan for the long term. The language barrier can be an issue, however, so families looking to take this route should only do so if their children have prior knowledge of Japanese or are young enough to pick up the language at school.

Public schools in Tokyo

For expat families with young children moving to Tokyo for an extended period, Tokyo's public schools can be a good option. These schools can help children integrate into Tokyo's local society and learn Japanese. Notably, as part of Japan's Free Education Policy implemented in 2019, education is free for children aged between three and five, including non-Japanese residents in Tokyo.

Tokyo's public schools also provide language support for students not fluent in Japanese. These efforts are enhanced by the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education's initiatives for multicultural coexistence education, aiming to support foreign children in their learning journey. That said, the school system in Tokyo is perceived as rigorous, with high academic expectations and additional commitments to after-school activities and jukus (cram schools).

For more on the national education system, see Education and Schools in Japan.

Private schools in Tokyo

Tokyo also boasts a diverse range of private schools. These institutions provide unique pedagogical approaches and follow the Japanese curriculum, often incorporating English language classes and global perspectives. They offer smaller class sizes than public schools and provide a variety of extracurricular activities.

Some private schools, like the Keio or Waseda schools, have a reputation for academic excellence and high university entrance rates. Although tuition fees tend to be higher than in public schools, many families consider the personalised learning environment a worthy investment. Admission can be competitive due to the high standard of education these schools offer.

International schools in Tokyo

With over 40 international schools in Tokyo, expat families have a diverse range of programmes to choose from, catering for different nationalities. Most of these schools teach in English and follow American, British or the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, although some schools cater specifically for other nationalities, including French, German, Indian and Chinese.

One of the key advantages of these international schools is that they offer continuity of education for students. This ensures a smooth transition for those moving to Tokyo from abroad and provides a globally recognised standard of education in the home language of the school's sponsoring country.

Admission requirements vary widely among international schools. Many require prospective students to go through an interview process to assess their academic level and language proficiency. Schools might also ask for academic records, recommendation letters and standardised test scores where applicable. It's also important to note that some popular international schools in Tokyo have waiting lists, so applying as early as possible is advisable.

Tuition fees differ from school to school and often depend on the grade level. Additional costs may cover items such as uniforms, field trips, bus services and technology fees. Financial considerations are a significant aspect of choosing an international school, so parents should carefully review each potential school's cost structure.

Learn more about International Schools in Tokyo.

Special-needs education in Tokyo

Tokyo's inclusive approach to education means students with special educational needs are often accommodated within regular public schools. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been proactive in promoting inclusive education, establishing special education centres and deploying support staff to schools. The assistance offered depends on the severity of the child's needs, including resources like special-needs assistants, speech and language therapists, and physiotherapists.

Expats whose children have special educational needs should begin by communicating with their chosen school directly, providing them with as much information as possible about their children's conditions and the previous support they've received.

Some schools might require a formal diagnosis or an individual educational plan (IEP) to design appropriate support. Dedicated special-needs schools also exist for children with severe learning barriers or disabilities.

Certain international schools, as well as schools following the Waldorf-Steiner and Montessori methods, support specific conditions. They provide more flexibility in their teaching methods and often have additional resources to support students with special educational needs, though this often comes at an additional fee.

Tutors in Tokyo

Given the competitive nature of schooling in Tokyo, tutors are widely used. They can help with various areas, such as maintaining mother-tongue language skills, improving Japanese or adapting to a new curriculum. This can be especially helpful for children transitioning from one curriculum to another or needing extra help with language skills, whether improving their Japanese or maintaining their proficiency in their mother tongue.

Tutors can also assist with preparation for entrance exams, a common requirement for private and international schools in Tokyo. Some tutoring centres offer courses specifically designed to prepare students for these exams, and it's not uncommon for students to begin these preparatory courses a year or more in advance of the actual exams.

With numerous tutoring companies in the city, expats are advised to conduct thorough research and consult with their children's schools for recommended tutors. Many tutors in Tokyo are licenced teachers, and some tutoring centres offer special programmes tailored for international students. For example, some tutoring services focus on English-language learning for non-native speakers, while others may specialise in test preparation for entrance exams.

International Schools in Tokyo

As a global business hub, international schools in Tokyo are plentiful. Parents will find schools offering the UK curriculum (including the Cambridge IGCSE and A-levels), the US curriculum (including SATs and AP subjects) and the globally respected International Baccalaureate.

Expat families tend to favour international schools in Tokyo for several reasons. Firstly, these schools have diverse student bodies, allowing children to interact with other expat students. Secondly, many families find that there are international schools teaching the curriculum of their home country in their native language. Even if one's home country isn't represented, international schools in Tokyo are still an excellent choice as they provide world-class education leading up to globally recognised qualifications.

Below is a list of international schools that are popular with the expat community in Tokyo.

International schools in Tokyo

Aoba-Japan International School

Aoba Japan International School is a fully accredited International Baccalaureate World School, offering students a globally recognised education. The school's high student-teacher ratio gives students plenty of individual attention. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 1.5 to 18

American School in Japan

With more than 110 years of history, the American School in Japan is experienced in providing top-quality education to both expat and local families in Tokyo. The school's main campus is situated on a sprawling 14-acre property replete with custom-designed facilities. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
Ages: 3 to 18

British School in Tokyo

The British School in Tokyo (BST) is a diverse school of more than 1,100 students. Accredited by the Council of British International Schools, BST is certified to offer the well-respected UK curriculum to students aged 3 to 18. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: British (English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE and A-levels)
Ages: 3 to 18

Canadian International School Tokyo

Situated in the bustling bayside ward of Shinagawa, Canadian International School Tokyo is a small school offering the Canadian curriculum of Prince Edward Island. From Kindergarten to Grade 6, the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme is also incorporated, and American Advanced Placement subjects are offered in senior high. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Canadian, American and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18

Deutsche Schule Tokyo Yokohama

Deutsche Schule Tokyo Yokohama provides a comprehensive German education. This small school has around 30 nationalities represented in its student body. Though teaching is entirely in German, additional languages, including Japanese, French and English, can be taken as subjects. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: German
Ages: 3 to 18

Global Indian International School Tokyo

With a range of curricula available, Global Indian International School Tokyo is an ideal choice for globally mobile families. The school runs a three-language programme, where teaching is in English and two foreign languages are taken as additional subjects. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Montessori, Indian (CBSE) and Cambridge IGCSE
Ages: 3 to 18

Kspace International School

Kspace International School is a secular co-educational school with a young and dynamic staff, conveniently located in central Tokyo. Students can be taught in English, or they can enrol in the school's bilingual programme, where some days are taught in Japanese. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: British (English National Curriculum)
Ages: 14 months to 6 years

Lycée Français International de Tokyo

Lycée Français International de Tokyo aims to provide a truly global education. The French curriculum serves as the framework for teaching, with the addition of linguistic and cultural components influenced by the school's Japanese surroundings. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: French
Ages: 3 to 18

Shinagawa International School

An authorised International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme school and candidate IB Middle Years Programme school, Shinagawa International School offers a holistic education that upholds high academic standards while also encouraging personal growth. The school boasts an impressive student-to-teacher ratio of 6:1, allowing teachers to give each child individualised attention and guidance. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 13

Tokyo International School

Situated on a purpose-built campus in Minami Azabu, Tokyo International School offers the International Baccalaureate Primary Years and Middle Years Programmes. Facilities are spacious and well maintained, including a gym, a performing arts studio and a library. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 4 to 14

Lifestyle in Tokyo

As a vibrant metropolis, Tokyo offers an engaging lifestyle, teeming with nightlife hotspots, world-class restaurants, museums, entertainment venues and shopping centres. For the expat community, Tokyo presents a dynamic, unique and sociable lifestyle, enriched with a multitude of exciting annual events, must-see attractions and top entertainment venues.

Shopping in Tokyo

The bustling consumer culture makes shopping in Tokyo an essential cultural experience for expats and one of the best retail experiences globally. Tokyo, leading in fashion, design and electronics, boasts districts like Akihabara – an anime, manga and tech paradise – ensuring the city remains at the forefront of these industries.

Shopping malls are a significant part of the urban landscape. Shinjuku Station is surrounded by multi-level malls retailing every item imaginable. Major chains like Keio and Isetan can be reached directly from the station.

For expats seeking traditional Japanese gifts for loved ones back home, Tokyo offers a wide range of items, including Daruma dolls, ceramics and chopsticks. Kimonos are another good option, although quality garments are expensive.

Eating out in Tokyo

Tokyo is the city with the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. Needless to say, the dining experience in Tokyo surpasses expectations at every turn, making it a gastronomic paradise for foodies and casual diners alike. The city's food scene reflects the deep-rooted culinary traditions of Japan, intermingled with global influences. Exquisite sushi, tempura, ramen and hearty izakaya (Japanese pub) fare are just the start of the culinary journey.

The famous Tsukiji Outer Fish Market is an absolute must-visit for seafood lovers, where one can sample the freshest sushi and sashimi for breakfast. The tiny sushi bars surrounding the market offer a memorable dining experience.

For a quick and inexpensive meal, heading over to one of the numerous ramen shops scattered around the city is recommended. From the thick, flavourful broth of tonkotsu ramen to the soy-based shoyu variety, there's a ramen for every palate.

Catering to global tastes, Tokyo's dining scene presents a wide array of ethnic cuisines, making it an international food capital for expats and food lovers. From Italian to French, Indian, Mexican and everything in between, the international restaurant scene is very vibrant. The city also hosts a variety of vegan and vegetarian restaurants, catering to the increasing demand for plant-based foods.

For those looking to splurge on an upscale dining experience, Tokyo's Ginza district is home to several high-end restaurants offering exquisite kaiseki (traditional multi-course meal) experiences.

Nightlife in Tokyo

After sunset, Tokyo transforms into a dazzling metropolis of neon lights, offering a plethora of nightlife activities, making the city's nightlife scene a must-experience aspect of living in here as an expat. From lively bars and clubs to quiet jazz cafés and from traditional Japanese izakayas to futuristic robot shows, there's something for everyone.

We recommend expats start their evening with a visit to a nomiya (a small Japanese bar) or an izakaya, where they can indulge in various small plates paired with sake or beer. The famous Shinjuku Golden Gai with its numerous winding alleys is home to a collection of tiny shanty-style bars. Some bars may have a 'seat charge', a cover fee for sitting in the establishment.

Roppongi, a favourite spot among Tokyo's expat community, is renowned for its high-energy nightclubs, upscale bars and international restaurants, highlighting the vibrant Tokyo nightlife scene. It's an ideal location for those looking to party all night, with venues such as 1Oak Tokyo and V2 Tokyo leading the clubbing scene.

For cocktail connoisseurs, Tokyo's mixology scene is world-class. Renowned bars like Bar High Five in Ginza and The SG Club in Shibuya are recognised globally for their innovative concoctions.

Finally, no true Tokyo nightlife experience would be complete without a karaoke session. This quintessential Japanese pastime is available at a number of karaoke boxes around the city, where karaoke fiends can rent a private room and sing their hearts out with friends.

Making friends and meeting people as an expat in Tokyo

Moving to a new city like Tokyo can be an exciting yet challenging experience. The city's vibrant expat community can help ease the transition, providing an opportunity to create new social networks and friendships. Tokyo offers a variety of platforms, both online and offline, that facilitate integration into the city's social scene and meeting new people.

Tokyo Intercultural Portal Site (TIPS)

The Tokyo Intercultural Portal Site introduces local international social groups and associations in Tokyo. This platform is an excellent starting point for those looking to connect with the local community and other expats.

The Tokyo American Club

Founded in 1928, the Tokyo American Club is one of the largest private clubs in Tokyo and provides a comfortable environment for individuals from all nations to meet and socialise. With over 3,500 members, it offers a variety of scheduled activities, making it an excellent place to forge new connections and friendships.

Otonari-san Family Friend Program

Otonari-san is designed to help foreign families who have recently moved to Japan. Connecting new arrivals with local residents and other expats, the programme facilitates a smoother integration into the local community and helps establish new friendships.

Roppongi Hills Club

The Roppongi Hills Club is a members club located on the 51st floor of Roppongi Hills Mori Tower. With panoramic views of Tokyo, the club offers a comfortable, luxurious environment for expats to meet and network. It regularly hosts events like wine tastings, themed dinners and holiday parties.

The Japan-British Society

Established in 1908, The Japan-British Society is one of the oldest and most respected international organisations in Japan. It aims to promote mutual understanding and goodwill between the Japanese and British people, making it an ideal avenue for British expats to network in Japan.

Kids and family in Tokyo

Expats in Tokyo will find themselves in a high-tech global hub rich in culture, technology and innovation. This multicultural setting allows expat children and families to interact with a diverse population, often finding friends who share their home languages.

Tokyo offers an array of parks, playgrounds and gardens perfect for walking, cycling and picnic outings. Notably, most of these places are close to cafés and snack stands, offering a delightful selection of treats like sushi rolls, matcha ice cream and takoyaki.

In a nutshell, the opportunities for education and excursions available to families living in Tokyo are seemingly limitless, making the city vibrant, engaging and very child-friendly.

Kid-friendly attractions in Tokyo

There are several noteworthy landmarks and venues to visit in Tokyo. The Imperial Palace and its surrounding gardens offer an enchanting walk. Although the palace is primarily a residence for the royal family and is only open to the public on specific days, the gardens are always welcoming.

Located on the outskirts of the city is the Ghibli Museum, showcasing the works of the world-famous Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli. Though the museum itself is indoors, its architectural design and interactive exhibits make it a must-visit for families.

A short trip from Tokyo will bring families to Hakone. Famous for its hot springs and the Hakone Shrine, it also offers a splendid view of Mt. Fuji. Families can take leisurely strolls, picnic by the lake and visit the Hakone Open-Air Museum, which houses a variety of sculptures and interactive installations.

Ueno Park, located within Tokyo, is another delightful location. Here, families can enjoy a zoo, several museums and a beautiful pond. Playgrounds and cafés are dispersed throughout the park, providing ample entertainment and relaxation opportunities.

Arts and entertainment for expat families in Tokyo

Expat children and their parents will enjoy the Edo-Tokyo Museum, where they can learn about the city's history and culture. For manga and anime fans, a visit to the Tokyo Anime Center in Akihabara is a must. Here, you can explore exhibitions, purchase merchandise and even participate in anime-related events.

Kids will particularly enjoy the Tokyo Toy Museum and KidZania. The former offers a variety of vintage and modern toys, while the latter is an interactive city for kids where they can try different jobs and earn currency.

While these institutions are particularly child-friendly, Tokyo's numerous art and science museums also frequently offer activities for children. In the teamLab Borderless digital art museum, visitors can interact with the artwork, immersing themselves in a multi-sensory experience.

Child-friendly dining in Tokyo

Tokyo is not short of family-friendly dining options. Izakaya restaurants are typically quite spacious and lively, serving a variety of dishes such as yakitori, sashimi and ramen, among traditional Japanese fare. If needed, many establishments provide child-friendly menus and high chairs. With Tokyo's global food scene, international cuisine is also widely available throughout the city.

See and Do in Tokyo

With so much to see and do in Tokyo, new expats should prepare for a sensory overload. The visual landscape is animated by flashing billboards, the hum and buzz of a densely packed population, and gleaming buildings that compete for attention. The good news is that no matter how much leisure time they have, expats will never get bored.

Using public transport is an easy way to see the sights. The transport system is excellent, cheap and relatively easy to master, even for the newly arrived expat. If expats don't mind the walk, feeling out Tokyo on foot is highly recommended, although Tokyo's streets are not always named and numbered straightforwardly, so newcomers might initially struggle to navigate.

Recommended sightseeing in Tokyo

Tokyo Tower

There is nowhere better for expats to get a sense of perspective than from atop the soaring Tokyo Tower, rising 1,092 feet (333m) into the sky. This architectural masterpiece was modelled on the Eiffel Tower in Paris.


Looking for electronics, gadgets and anime and manga merch? Look no further than Akihabara, a renowned electronic wonderland with all the bargains, cutting-edge innovation and expert advice an expat could ever want. An essential attraction even if expats are just window shopping.

Senso-ji Temple

An ancient Buddhist temple, Senso-ji was built in 628 CE and has the distinction of being Tokyo's oldest temple. It still attracts many devotees, especially when one of the numerous associated festivals is running. The summer fireworks display held here is widely known.

Tokyo Disney Resort

This is a mega theme park that directly mimics the original version in California. Apart from the usual fun rides and characters, visitors can enjoy Tokyo DisneySea Park as well as the park's several hotels.

Tokyo National Museum

One of the world's largest art museums, this outstanding attraction has exhibits including antique kimonos, paper-thin pottery and classical woodblock prints.

Meiji Jingu

Meiji Jingu is a pleasant and calming shrine close to Harajuku Station and a symbol of the Meiji era, which marked the end of Japan's isolation from the West. Originally built as a tribute to Emperor Meiji and his wife, the shrine is located in a breathtaking evergreen forest environment.


Here, expats in Tokyo can also explore the traditional Japanese Kabuki theatre. The Kabuki-za is the main venue for such performances and is set in a beautiful building.

What's On in Tokyo

Annual events in Tokyo include everything from sports competitions to spring festivals, cutting-edge theatre productions to international trade fairs.

Here are just a few of the events in Tokyo that expats can look forward to.

Annual events in Tokyo

National Foundation Day Parade (February)

A public holiday in Japan, this event commemorates the crowning of Japan's first emperor in 660 BC. A parade travels through Meiji Park and Omote-Sando Street (where portable shrines join the parade), culminating at Meiji Shrine.

Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival (March)

At the start of spring, cherry trees erupt into pink and white blossoms, giving the city a magical aura. The event is celebrated with hanami parties that take the form of picnics, drinking, singing and dancing. Street stalls appear, and musicians in costume serenade the picnickers.

The festival celebrating the blooming of cherry blossoms (sakura) originated with the traditional belief that the spirits of the gods dwell in cherry trees, and it's considered polite to avoid plucking blossoms or climbing the trees.

Great Japan Beer Festival (June)

An annual event held in mid-June, this festival is one of the most popular in Tokyo. Visitors can sample local and international beers.

Sumida River Fireworks Festival (July)

Originating in the Edo period, this festival is often considered one of Japan's oldest and most significant fireworks festivals. The fireworks are launched from barges along the Sumida River, and the spectacular display paints a beautiful scene against Tokyo's night sky.

Tokyo Game Show (September)

Held annually in September, the Tokyo Game Show is one of the most influential events in the gaming world, attracting industry professionals and gaming enthusiasts from around the globe. Big-name developers and indie creators showcase their latest innovations, providing a sneak peek into the future of gaming. Visitors can explore exhibition areas, attend presentations, try out demos and even buy game-related merchandise.

Tokyo International Film Festival (October/November)

One of the largest film events in Asia, this two-week event sees a wide variety of Japanese and international films screened, as well as an awards ceremony.

Tokyo Ramen Show (October–November)

This culinary festival is a must-visit for food lovers and an absolute treat for noodle enthusiasts. Held in Komazawa Olympic Park, the Tokyo Ramen Show takes place over several days and brings together renowned ramen chefs from all corners of Japan.

Setagaya Boro Ichi (December–January)

A market originating in the 16th century, this timeless event is held in mid-December and mid-January in Setagaya, where hundreds of stallholders sell everything from priceless antiques to bric-a-brac.

Frequently Asked Questions about Tokyo

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 the 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.

Is Tokyo expensive?

The cost of living in Tokyo can be quite high, but this can be combatted by living frugally. The biggest expense for any expat is accommodation.

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 new arrival. National pride is on the rise, which means that it's considered important that Japan presents itself positively 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 colours of the leaves on the trees are breathtaking.

Getting Around in Tokyo

An excellent public transport system offers the best means of getting around in Tokyo. There's a dense network of interconnected rail and subway lines and extensive bus routes, so reaching anywhere in the city is easy. Navigating the system can be confusing for new arrivals, though. The public transport system is also known for its punctuality.

Public transport can be packed during rush hour, and long commutes to work are common. All in all, most expats agree that dealing with crowds is well worth the efficiency and convenience of Japan's public transport system.

Public transport in Tokyo

In addition to the extensive network of public transportation, Tokyo also offers convenient payment methods to make commuting even more efficient. The city uses two main smart cards, Suica and Pasmo, which can be used on trains, subways, and buses. These cards are prepaid and rechargeable, allowing commuters to simply tap their card on the reader at the ticket gates, eliminating the need to purchase individual tickets for each journey. The cards are interchangeable and can also be used for purchases at convenience stores and vending machines, making them a handy tool for both commuting and everyday life in Tokyo.

For more information on the cards, visit the official websites of JR East and Pasmo.


Tokyo's railway system is the most popular means of getting around the city. There's an extensive rail network, operated mainly by JR East, as well as several other privately operated lines. The circular Yamanote Line, sometimes called the 'Loop Line', is the main rail line in the city and connects most major city centres within the city limits.

Station names are usually marked in both Japanese and English, which makes it easier for expats still getting used to navigating the city. Trains are punctual and efficient.

For an overview of Tokyo's public transport system, visit the official website of the East Japan Railway Company (JR East).


Tokyo's subway system is extensive, efficient and well connected to the train system. Route maps and fare charts are available in English at each station.

The subway system serves areas both inside and outside the Yamanote Line loop. It also extends beyond the city limits with direct connections to other private train lines, making it a convenient mode of transport in Tokyo.

The Tokyo Metro website provides comprehensive information about the subway and how it operates.


Bus services aren't as frequent as trains, but they are convenient if needing to reach parts of Tokyo not accessible by rail. Buses can also be used for long-distance services outside of Tokyo. Tokyo has many different bus operators, with Toei Transportation being the most prominent. However, bus routes can be more difficult to navigate for non-Japanese speakers, as not all buses have English announcements or signage.

For information on bus services in Tokyo, have a look at the Toei Transportation website.

Taxis in Tokyo

Taxis in Tokyo are plentiful but expensive, though they can be helpful if travelling late at night when most other public transport options cease operating. Taxi drivers might not speak English, so it's a good idea to have one's destination written in Japanese for the driver. It isn't necessary to tip the driver.

Ride-hailing services like Uber are operational in the city, but they can be pricier and scarcer than regular taxis. An interesting feature of taxis in Tokyo is that the doors open and close automatically, so expats shouldn't attempt to operate the door manually – something that may take a while to get used to.

Useful links

  • For traditional taxi services, visit the official website of Tokyo MK Taxi, a popular taxi company in Tokyo.
  • Information about ride-hailing services in Tokyo can be found on the Uber Japan website.

Driving in Tokyo

Owing to the city's excellent public transport system, it's unlikely that expats will require a car to get around in Tokyo. If anything, driving in Tokyo can be more of a hassle; navigating the city in a car can be especially difficult due to heavy traffic congestion and the confusing mass of narrow streets, which aren't always clearly marked. Additionally, parking in Tokyo can be expensive and difficult to find.

Those who do wish to drive will generally need an international driver's permit, at least initially. Nationals of certain countries may use their licence from home as long as they have it officially translated into Japanese. To obtain a permanent Japanese licence, practical and written tests may be necessary.

Useful links

Cycling in Tokyo

Although cycling is popular in Tokyo, amenities for cyclists aren't extensive, and traffic congestion can add to the danger. Many cyclists simply ride along the pavement, as cycle lanes aren't common in the city – so pedestrians should watch where they are going, as accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists are common in Tokyo. While cycling is a common mode of transport for short distances, it's not always the most practical for longer distances or for commuting during peak hours due to the crowds.

Useful links