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Don’t Overlook These 3 Things When Choosing a Tokyo Neighborhood

When it comes to home hunting in Tokyo, certain considerations, such as price and access to public transportation, are obvious. However, in dealing with the usual and unexpected challenges of finding a place to live in Tokyo, it’s easy to overlook a few basic things that can have a major impact on your health and wellbeing.

Supermarkets and Restaurants

Before handing over a truckload of money for your dream apartment, take a stroll through the neighborhood and note the supermarkets and restaurants in the area. How far is the closest supermarket from your prospective apartment? How many quality restaurants are nearby? Food quality, selection, and prices vary from brand to brand and store to store. This is especially important to consider if you have strict dietary needs. Having quick and easy access to healthy eating choices will insulate you from the temptation to rely on convenience stores or fast food restaurants for your meals.

Parks and Recreation

Picture of the Kanda river, along which there is a lot of green

Considering Tokyo’s vast, sprawling urban landscape, it’s easy to forget about the pockets of greenspace that exist within the city. Overlooking Tokyo’s parks and greenspaces when selecting a place to live can have a significant impact on both your physical and mental health.

Try to pick a home that’s near a major park or waterway. This way, you’ll always be motivated to jog, cycle, or simply take a meditative stroll. If you’re into weight training, also make sure that a gym is nearby. Sure, you could always habit stack and get a cardio workout by jogging or cycling through the city to reach your gym. However, I find that the easiest way to stay consistent and motivated is having the gym just a few minutes from your front door.

Dry Cleaners and Laundromats

In-home dryers aren’t common in Japan. Most people tend to air-dry clothing, hanging various articles outside a window or on a balcony. However, if air drying isn’t for you, make sure there’s a good laundromat nearby. Additionally, if you’re working for a large corporation in Tokyo, chances are that you’re going to be wearing professional attire daily. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that there’s a fast and affordable drycleaner in your neighborhood. Few things waste more time than trekking across town to deal with laundry.

Don’t Take Tokyo’s Convenience for Granted

Picture of a river with fully bloomed cherry blossoms

Given Tokyo’s reputation for convenience, perhaps it’s hard to imagine neighborhoods without the aforementioned amenities. However, convenience dead zones do exist, especially in neighborhoods near the edge of the city, where residents rely on cars over public transportation. Whether you are moving to Tokyo for the first time or getting ready for a hard earned quality-of-life upgrade, think beyond the obvious and consider easily overlooked neighborhood features that have a large impact on your wellbeing.

Originally from California, I've been living and working in Japan, now my second home, since 2009. My work as a communications consultant lends a unique perspective to my writing, and I often explore the business behind Japan’s beauty. When I’m not working, you can find me hunched over a screen reviewing kanji flashcards in my never-ending quest to master the Japanese language.