10 Must-haves for A Comfortable Tokyo Lifestyle!

10 Must-haves for A Comfortable Tokyo Lifestyle

I was born in Tokyo, I have lived here all my life, so I am sure there are many things about the Tokyo lifestyle that I take for granted. It is interesting, therefore, to hear what my foreign friends and acquaintances tell me they miss about their own countries and to see the kinds of items they consider necessary for their Tokyo lifestyle. Of course, Tokyo can seem a very strange and confusing place, and the further you have travelled be here, the stranger it would probably seem. I could easily fill a book with advice on living in Japan, but I can at least offer you my top ten must have items for enjoying a comfortable Tokyo life.



 

10 Must-haves for A Comfortable Tokyo Lifestyle!

 

1. THE UBIQUITOUS SMART PHONE

How did human beings ever manage without smart phones? Seriously! Whatever the moral or ethical questions it raises, smart phones have become an indispensable component of our daily lives, but they are even more essential when you are living or working abroad. However hectic or confusing, exciting or uplifting your Tokyo lifestyle might be at any given moment, being able to share those feelings with friends and family back home, in real time, will help you to adjust to your strange new surroundings. I’m not saying you won’t get homesick from time to time, but through social media, Skype, FaceTime, and other services, the world is a much smaller place where our every thought and experience can be shared and appreciated anywhere around the globe.

 

2. LAPTOP or DESKTOP

For all their portability and functionality, there are many things that mobile devices just cannot do. Obviously, the larger screens of laptops and PCs suit those people who are keen on maintaining and editing the photographic or video record of their adventures. With the physical keyboard, teachers can easily prepare materials, students can research subjects and write essays, and business people can make spread sheets, all in the comfort of their own homes! For some foreign visitors, and indeed for many Japanese, Japanese television programmes can be unpalatable, whilst news programmes will be unfathomable if you don’t understand Japanese. Yet these days, there is a wealth of downloadable or streamed entertainment and news media on the internet in a wide variety of languages. It is easy to see how the PC could be at the hub of your Tokyo lifestyle.

 

3. TREAT YOURSELF TO SOME HI-TECH!

Actually, you will be pleased to know that computers, cameras and other electrical goods are significantly cheaper in Japan because the consumption tax is lower and does not differentiate luxury items. How cool is that? It is difficult to point to one particular ‘must have’ electrical item, as every person has different interests, needs and priorities. For some, it’s a Japanese rice cooker, for others the latest digital camera. For me, it would be an advanced microwave oven. Traditional Western style oven-ranges are rarely found in compact Japanese kitchens, so a combined microwave/steam oven could be an essential part of Tokyo lifestyle for anyone who enjoys cooking. Whether you just want to zap a quick TV dinner, roast a whole chicken for Sunday lunch, or steam a plate of Chinese dumplings, these combination ranges do it all while being compact enough for small Japanese kitchens.

 

4. I’M YOUR NUMBER 1 FAN!

The summertime in Tokyo is very hot and humid and there isn’t even any respite during the night! So, while you are buying that new laptop and microwave, why not check out the electric fans in the store, as this is an essential Tokyo lifestyle item for preserving your sanity during those sticky nights. But do not wait until summer to buy a fan; they can be cheaper and more easily available off season! If you are renting an apartment, it will probably have an air conditioner installed, if not, there are many air conditioners available to suit all pockets. However, you may find that the gentler breeze of a simple fan is comfort enough. And don’t forget a pocket fan; whether a traditional flat or folding style hand fan, or one of those battery operated rotor-bladed devices, they can make all the difference when you find yourself in a crowded place with no air conditioning!

 

5. SUMMER IS HELL, SO STAY COOL!

When you are coming to Tokyo, and if you expect to be here during the summer months, you should pack some shorts and loose tee shirts, or anything you would typically wear in hot weather. Then again, the clothing in Japanese stores is always of very high quality, even the cheaper non-branded goods, and often made from light weight, quick drying fabrics that were designed for the kind of summers we get in Japan. For business people, there are even light weight, non iron business suits that are totally machine washable! The important thing is to choose clothes that afford the maximum comfort in the heat; lined suit jackets and long sleeve shirts should be avoided at all cost!

 

6. DO YOU HAVE THIS IN MY SIZE?

For some non-Asians of taller stature, it can be difficult to find items in one’s size in Tokyo’s high street stores, and even when you find the right chest or waist measurement, the sleeves or pants legs might not be long enough. This isn’t to say that you need to bring your entire wardrobe with you when you relocate to Tokyo, but give careful consideration to bringing with you the clothes that you will need for business or formal situations. In time, often from word of mouth, you will discover places where you can buy clothes in your size. For example, there are a lot of on line traders specializing in larger sizes as well as some well known stores that only sell their larger sizes on line, including Unique. Also, Tokyo’s high street tailors are excellent and can offer a wide range of seasonal and year round fabrics.

 

7. ROOM SLIPPERS IN YOUR SIZE

In case you didn’t know, it is customary in Japan for people to remove their shoes at the front door and wear slippers indoors. We even have a separate pair of slippers for the toilet. It is probably not important in your Tokyo lifestyle to wear slippers in your own apartment, but it is a good idea to get a comfortable pair in your size that you can keep with you in your bag or briefcase. There are many schools, clinics, public buildings and tourist attractions that require visitors to remove their shoes at the entrance. This may sound silly, but I’ve lost count of the number of times I have seen foreign residents and visitors, men in particular, tottering around in their socks, simply because the provided slippers were all too small!

 

8. GOOD SHOES

The Tokyo lifestyle can be hard on your feet. Depending on the work you do and where you live, you may have a long walk to the station for your daily commute, or visit a number of locations in the course of your job, often on packed trains. Unsuitable footwear introduces stress into the body that can cause a variety physical symptoms, including leg ache, back and shoulder ache, headaches and fatigue. Whatever you do, do not skimp on footwear! Understanding the weak points of your feet and how best to support them is the key, then choose shoes that offer the best balance of support and comfort. If necessary, buy footwear from a specialist shop that can provide a fitting service. This may cost more, but in the long run, you will feel better. At the very least, try to choose shoes with some kind of cushioned sole. And remember, how fashionable your shoes are is generally of less importance in Japan; nobody will look at your shoes!

 

9. SUICA AND PASMO

Getting around on Tokyo’s extensive rail network is much easier these days now that we can generally avoid queueing at ticket machines. Most people now use SUICA or PASMO cards, pre-paid passes that one simply touches on a sensor at the platform gate on entering or leaving the station. You can use these passes on buses too. You can top up the pre-paid value at any time at special vending machines adjacent to regular ticket vendors. Though I consider this an important ‘must have’ for a convenient Tokyo lifestyle, they can also be used throughout Japan, so if you bought your card in Tokyo, you could also use it in Osaka, Sapporo, Naha or any other city region. What you cannot do is travel from one region to another by these cards. You can obtain a SUICA or PASMO card at any station main ticket office, and there are now vending machines in some stations. What is the difference between them? None really, except for the companies that issue them. There are today more SUICA card holders than PASMO.

 

10. BE PREPARED TO ROCK AND ROLL!

All visitors to Japan will be aware that they have come to one of the most seismically active places on Earth and that Tokyo could well experience a severe earthquake at any time. But it is a city well prepared for such an occurrence and there will be emergency guidelines for wherever you live or work, and specified evacuation points that you should learn. In addition, it is a wise precaution to put together a ‘ready bag’ with food, water and first aid kit should you have to evacuate; a rucksack would be most suitable. There is a useful web page prepared by Tokyo International Communication Committee on earthquake disaster preparedness, including guidance on what to pack in your ready bag. The page is available in several languages, including English.

 

Conclusion

Well, they are my top ten must haves, as a native of Tokyo. It is not an exclusive list, and it could change as time goes by, for the truth is, there is no singular Tokyo lifestyle; we all live it as best we can and with what we have. Some people breeze through life without a care, others must live on their wits, but all will have very different ideas about their ‘must haves’. There are some 35 million people in the greater Tokyo area; I wonder how many ‘must haves’ that amounts to! And, when you have lived in Tokyo for a while, what will YOU see as indispensable to a comfortable Tokyo lifestyle?

 

10 Must-haves for A Comfortable Tokyo Lifestyle!

1. THE UBIQUITOUS SMART PHONE
2. LAPTOP or DESKTOP
3. TREAT YOURSELF TO SOME HI-TECH!
4. I’M YOUR NUMBER 1 FAN!
5. SUMMER IS HELL, SO STAY COOL!
6. DO YOU HAVE THIS IN MY SIZE?
7. ROOM SLIPPERS IN YOUR SIZE
8. GOOD SHOES
9. SUICA AND PASMO
10. BE PREPARED TO ROCK AND ROLL!