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About This Guide

YourGuide

Life in Tokyo: Your Guide is a lifestyle guidebook published for non-Japanese residents by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Bureau of Citizens and Cultural Affairs to help them begin their new life in Tokyo. From the moment you enter the country, this guide has all the information you need to live your day-to-day life. You will even discover advice from fellow expats who have been living in the city for some time, providing extra knowledge that is sure to come in useful. Let this guide kickstart your new life in Tokyo!

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You can download a complete PDF version of Life in Tokyo: Your Guide, a lifestyle guidebook produced especially for expats starting their new life in Tokyo

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Life in TokyoLife in Tokyo

There are many places in Tokyo where you can study Japanese.

Places to study Japanese

Fees Features Inquiries
Japanese language school Fee required Large number of class hours and courses that follow a curriculum The school
Japanese language classes Free or low-cost Casual classes taught mainly by volunteers Local municipal office
Local international association
Japanese language school
Fees Fee required
Features Large number of class hours and courses that follow a curriculum
Inquiries The school
Japanese language classes
Fees Free or low-cost
Features Casual classes taught mainly by volunteers
Inquiries Local municipal office
Local international association
Gibo-chan

Select a district at Life in Tokyo and find a Japanese class near you!

Libraries

There are many libraries that everyone can use. Books can be borrowed for free. When you go for the first time, bring personal identification (such as a residence card) and make a library card.

For details

Putting out trash

Each municipality has its own rules about how to dispose of trash. You should observe these rules so that everyone can live in comfort.

●Check rules for putting out trash

Trash separation and other rules are decided by municipality.

1. Types of trash separation :
Combustible trash, non-combustible trash, recyclables, over-sized trash, etc.
2. Days and times:
You should avoid putting out your trash at night.
3. Place:
Always put out your trash in the designated place.

Gibo-chan

Depending on the municipality, you may have to pay for trash bags!

Shopping

There are many stores in Tokyo, which stock all kinds of items.

Types of stores Features of products stocked Opening hours (example)
Supermarkets Food items and daily necessities.
Prices may be cheaper due to items on sale.
10 am – 9 pm
Convenience stores Mainly food items and daily necessities. List price. 24 hours
Individual shops
(produce, fish stores, etc.)
Shop while enjoying interaction with the vendors 10 am – 8 pm
Shopping malls Large centers with various kinds of shops. 11 am – 8 pm
Department stores Stock a large variety of high-quality, high-priced goods 11 am – 8 pm
Supermarkets
Food items and daily necessities. Prices may be cheaper due to items on sale.
Opening hours (example) 10 am – 9 pm
Convenience stores
Mainly food items and daily necessities. List price.
Opening hours (example) 24 hours
Individual shops (produce, fish stores, etc.)
Shop while enjoying interaction with the vendors
Opening hours (example) 10 am – 8 pm
Shopping malls
Large centers with various kinds of shops.
Opening hours (example) 11 am – 8 pm
Department stores
Stock a large variety of high-quality, high-priced goods
Opening hours (example) 11 am – 8 pm

*Opening hours vary by store.

●Points to note when shopping

1. Don't take items out of packages without permission.

2. Use of credit cards depends on the store. Check for a credit card logo at the entrance.

Gibo-chan

If there’s something you don’t understand, ask the clerk!

Column

About local neighborhood associations and residents’ associations

These organizations are created voluntarily by local residents to help each other out and create more livable towns.

Objective Activities
Living safely and securely Emergency drills to prepare for disasters such as earthquakes, fires, and floods
Crime prevention and fire prevention activities
Interaction among residents Festivals, fairs, etc.
Creating a clean, pleasant town environment Cleaning the neighborhood, recycling resources, etc.
Providing local information Circulated notices (passed from house to house)
Gibo-chan

In Japan, littering on the street is prohibited! It's considered good manners to take your trash home with you. There are very few trashcans around town because everyone takes their trash home!

Public holidays

Japan has a number of public holidays, each with a special meaning.

Name of Holiday Date Meaning
New Year's Day January 1 To celebrate the beginning of the new year, the Japanese visit temple and shrines.
Coming-of-Age Day 2nd Monday in January A day to celebrate becoming an adult (turning 20). A coming-of-age ceremony is held.
National Foundation Day February 11 A day to celebrate the founding of Japan
Spring Equinox Day Date of spring equinox The day when the length of day and night is more-or-less the same (in late March). Many people go to visit graves of their ancestors.
Showa Day April 29 A day to look back on the Showa era.
Constitution Memorial Day May 3 An anniversary to commemorate the establishment of Japan’s Constitution.
Greenery Day May 4 A day to appreciate nature.
Children's Day May 5 A day to wish for children's growth. Homes with boys are decorated with traditional kabuto helmets and carp streamers.
Marine Day 3rd Monday in July A day to appreciate the sea.
Mountain Day August 11 A day to appreciate the mountains.
Respect for the Aged Day 3rd Monday in September A day to respect the elderly.
Autumnal Equinox Day Date of autumnal equinox A day to respect one’s ancestors. Many people visit their family grave.
Sports Day 2nd Monday in October The anniversary of the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964.
Culture Day November 3 A day to cherish freedom and peace and to promote culture.
Labor Thanksgiving Day November 23 A day to show appreciation for work.
Emperor's Birthday December 23 A day to celebrate the Emperor’s birthday. The Emperor's birthday is a public holiday in Japan.
New Year's Day
Date January 1
Meaning To celebrate the beginning of the new year, the Japanese visit temple and shrines.
Coming-of-Age Day
Date 2nd Monday in January
Meaning A day to celebrate becoming an adult (turning 20). A coming-of-age ceremony is held.
National Foundation Day
Date February 11
Meaning A day to celebrate the founding of Japan
Spring Equinox Day
Date Date of spring equinox
Meaning The day when the length of day and night is more-or-less the same (in late March). Many people go to visit graves of their ancestors.
Showa Day
Date April 29
Meaning A day to look back on the Showa era.
Constitution Memorial Day
Date May 3
Meaning An anniversary to commemorate the establishment of Japan’s Constitution.
Greenery Day
Date May 4
Meaning A day to appreciate nature.
Children's Day
Date May 5
Meaning A day to wish for children's growth. Homes with boys are decorated with traditional kabuto helmets and carp streamers.
Marine Day
Date 3rd Monday in July
Meaning A day to appreciate the sea.
Mountain Day
Date August 11
Meaning A day to appreciate the mountains.
Respect for the Aged Day
Date 3rd Monday in September
Meaning A day to respect the elderly.
Autumnal Equinox Day
Date Date of autumnal equinox
Meaning A day to respect one’s ancestors. Many people visit their family grave.
Sports Day
Date 2nd Monday in October
Meaning The anniversary of the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964.
Culture Day
Date November 3
Meaning A day to cherish freedom and peace and to promote culture.
Labor Thanksgiving Day
Date November 23
Meaning A day to show appreciation for work.
Emperor's Birthday
Date December 23
Meaning A day to celebrate the Emperor’s birthday. The Emperor's birthday is a public holiday in Japan.

Seasoned residents say

  • Trash separation in Japan is very detailed because people are very conscious of recycling. We want to cooperate in the effective use of resources.

  • Sento (public baths) are roomy and comfortable! Tokyo Sento

  • You don’t need to leave a tip in Japan.

  • Banks and municipal offices are closed on public holidays.