After One Month in Tokyo

After One Month in Tokyo

Well, we blinked. We tried our hardest to resist the impulse, but three seconds after stepping off the plane, we blinked… and here we are, a month later. Understand this: Tokyo warps time. This city causes hours, days and weeks to collapse into a blur. A colorful, wild and entertaining blur, but still just a blur.

Most Memorable

Mike: Sakura season in Tokyo is magical. It’s the end of winter, and everyone goes out to celebrate hanami, or flower viewing parties. Our visit to Inokashira Park, where we rowed around a pond with blossoms falling around us, is an experience I’ll always remember.

Jürgen: On our first day, we went up on top of the Tokyo SkyTree. Unfortunately, a snow storm had settled in, completely obscuring our view, but the clouds eventually lifted and we saw for the first time the sheer size of Tokyo. It took my breath away.
Favorite Food

Mike: The food is possibly the best aspect of Tokyo, and I’m sorely tempted to give a cop-out answer like “everything,” but I won’t. So I’m going to go with sushi. That’s really obvious, but the sushi here is unbelievable. Cheap and delicious. And whenever a day goes by that we didn’t eat some, I feel like we’ve wasted time.

Jürgen: I’m obsessed with the noodles. Soba for breakfast, udon for lunch and ramen for dinner. Now that’s a perfect day!
Most Surprising

Mike: It’s embarrassing to admit, but I was on the toilet when I felt my very first earthquake. Just minding my own, tending to business, when everything started to shake. Thank god it wasn’t the “ultra-quake” that’s due to strike Tokyo, because the stall would have been an ignoble place to die.

Jürgen: Normally, if you ask me what I wanted more of, my answer would be “money.” But in Tokyo, “money” only makes it to third place. Here, what I most desire is “time.” I hate how fast days fly by! And second place would go to having more space. More money would be nice, too, but here in Tokyo it’s not all that important! Or rather, not as important as other things.
Most Disappointing

Mike: Even though I don’t read Japanese, and can therefore only appreciate a fraction of it, the entertainment culture here is every geek’s fantasy. Anime and manga and trading card games and Pokemon and Gundam models and weird candy and mind-blowing arcade games. So, I’m disappointed that I didn’t grow up in Japan, because there’s so much I missed out on.

Jürgen: I’m disappointed that I can’t understand Japanese. The city is fun for a foreigner, but if you could speak the language and communicate with people, read the menus and newspapers, you’d be able to appreciate Tokyo on a whole different level.

Mike: A difficult category, because Tokyo is the undisputed world capital of weird and funny things! I guess I’ll go with the rockabillies in Yoyogi Park. I’ve never seen such an awesome clash of cultures… actually, I’ve never seen anything like that at all.

Jürgen: The strangest thing is how quiet people are on the morning metro. The trains are crammed with people, but you could hear a pin drop inside! It’s like everyone is trying to escape into themselves. In the evening it’s a whole different story with people in much louder spirits, probably thanks to Happy Hour!
How Expensive? From 1 (cheap) to 10 (expensive)

Mike: 7. Compared to how expensive I expected life to be, Tokyo has been a pleasant surprise. It’s possible to live here without busting the bank. Yes, apartments are small and pricey, but day-to-day expenses are reasonable. Some of our favorite meals have been bargains, and you can even find clothes at decent prices.

Jürgen: I would say a 8. To live comparably to how people in Europe live, you’d need to shell out. But you can live cheaply too. But I’m not even trying to save any money… not with all the great things to buy here!
People from Tokyo Are…

Mike: … usually in a hurry to get somewhere. They’re thin and nicely dressed, although I must say I’ve never seen so many women just absolutely unable to deal with their high-heels. Tokoyites are mostly polite, but can be quite pushy in certain situations, like when claiming a seat on the subway or getting ahead of you in a line.

Jürgen: … very polite and forgiving to foreigners when we make silly cultural mistakes. And I love how organized they are. Everything in its correct place. Very efficient!
Tokyo in Three Words

Mike: Suits, Sushi, Subways

Jürgen: Packed, Cute, Overwhelming


  • Sam

    I’m surprised you guys only rate Tokyo as a 7.5 on the expensometer, I kinda expected a 10, given its reputation.

    May 13, 2014 at 12:58 pm
    • Juergen Horn

      You can live cheaper but it will set you back on comfort and convenience. It’s a trade off! Sadly ;(

      May 14, 2014 at 12:22 am
  • The Honourable Husband

    Agreed, the expense of Tokyo is often exaggerated.  As with any city its size, accommodation is at a premium. And you might pay $60 for a beautiful, perfect melon as a summer gift.  But Japanese culture, by its nature, does not reward needless extravagance.  Though my experience is dated, I often got quite a decent meal for three or four bucks at the Komoro Ramen (a.k.a. McNoodles) shop next door to where I lived.  WE tended to shop at the Hanamasa chain of supermarkets (the yellow bull sign) which is meant to be a wholesaler to all the small restaurants, of which there are many. 

    May 14, 2014 at 11:43 am