About This Guide


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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Learn about TokyoWhat sort of a place is Tokyo?

Basic information

Population Approx. 13.73 million (approx.10.9% of Japan’s population)
No. of foreign residents Approx. 540,000 (the highest nationwide), with foreign residents accounting for approx. 4% of the population
Number of local governments 62 (23 wards, 26 cities, 5 towns, 8 villages)
Area 2,190 km2 (0.6% of Japan’s total area)
Climate Graf

*「Population」・「No. of foreign residents」・「Number of local governments」As of October 2018

Tokyo crest Tokyo symbol Tokyo flower:
Somei-yoshino cherry blossom
Tokyo tree:
Ginkgo biloba
Tokyo bird:
Yurikamome black-headed gull
Tokyo crest
Tokyo symbol
Tokyo flower:
Somei-yoshino cherry blossom
Tokyo tree:
Ginkgo biloba
Tokyo bird:
Yurikamome black-headed gull

History of Tokyo

  • 1603

    Tokugawa Ieyasu establishes the Shogunate government in Edo

  • 1868

    Edo renamed Tokyo

  • 1882

    The Ueno Zoo opens

  • 1903

    Tokyo’s first streetcar
    (Shimbashi - Shinagawa) starts operation

  • 1925

    The Yamanote rail line starts operation

  • 1931

    Haneda Airport opens

  • 1958

    Tokyo Tower completed
    (height 333 m)

  • 1964

    Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games are held
    Shinkansen bullet train starts operation

  • 2012

    Tokyo Skytree completed
    (height 634m)

  • 2020

    Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held

Tokyo on the map

The east side of the ward area
The west side of the ward area
The east side of Tama
The west side of Tama
Tokyo’s islands
The east side of the ward area

The east side of the ward area is where you find the shitamachi district and its nostalgic streets

Taito-ku, Sumida-ku, Koto-ku, Arakawa-ku, Adachi-ku, Katsushika-ku, Edogawa-ku
  • Yakata-bune (Pleasure boat)

  • Asakusa: Senso-ji Temple

The west side of the ward area

The west side of the ward area is bustling with people and has towering skyscrapers

Chiyoda-ku, Chuo-ku, Minato-ku, Shinjuku-ku, Bunkyo-ku, Shinagawa-ku, Meguro-ku, Ota-ku, Setagaya-ku, Shibuya-ku, Nakano-ku, Suginami-ku, Toshima-ku, Kita-ku, Itabashi-ku, Nerima-ku
  • Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

  • Shinjuku: Skyscraper area

The east side of Tama

The east side of Tama has many verdant parks

Hachioji City, Tachikawa City, Musashino City, Mitaka City, Fuchu City, Akishima City, Chofu City, Machida City, Koganei City, Kodaira City, Hino City, Higashimurayama City, Kokubunji City, Kunitachi City, Fussa City, Komae City, Higashiyamato City, Kiyose City, Higashikurume City, Musashimurayama City, Tama City, Inagi City, Hamura City, Nishitokyo City, Mizuho-machi
  • Showa Kinen Park

  • Mt. Takao

The west side of Tama

The west side of Tama still has a lot of beautiful nature

Ome City, Akiruno City, Hinode-machi, Hinohara-mura, Okutama-machi
  • Hinohara-mura

  • Lake Okutama

Tokyo’s islands

On Tokyo’s islands, you can enjoy marine sports in pristine surroundings

Oshima-machi, Toshima-mura, Niijima-mura, Kouzushima-mura, Miyake-mura, Mikurajima-mura, Hachijo-machi, Aogashima-mura, Ogasawara-mura

The four seasons of Tokyo


March – May

A pleasant season of mild weather and blooming cherry blossoms.
The new school year begins in April.

  • Ueno Park

  • Hama-rikyu Gardens

  • Koi-nobori (carp pennant)


June – August

The weather is muggy. On some days temperatures rise above 30 degrees Celsius.

  • Sumida River Fireworks Festival

  • Nishiarai-daishi furin (wind chime) festival

  • Bon-odori (Bon festival dance)


September – November

A pleasant season of beautiful autumnal colors.
This season sees the year’s highest precipitation.

  • Omikoshi (portable shrine carried in festivals)

  • Okutama

  • Meijijingu-gaien


December – February

The air is dry, with many sunny days.
Sometimes it may snow.

  • Roppongi illumination

  • Senso-ji Temple hagoita-ichi (battledore fair)

  • Tokyo Station

Tokyo rail map

Japanese trains are safe and run precisely on time.

●Tickets and smartcards

To use the train, purchase a ticket at the station or use a smartcard (Suica, PASMO, etc. ). You can use these cards when you ride the bus, too.
A 500-yen deposit is required when purchasing a smartcard.

■Advantages of smartcards
1. By charging your smartcard, you can use it in place of aticket to pay for your fare.
2. You can transfer smoothly to other railway company lines.
3. You can use the card at convenience stores or vending machines in the place of cash.

  • ●Suica

    You can buy this card at JR East ticket vending machines or JR ticket offices (Midori-nomadoguchi).
    Photo courtesy of JR East

  • ●PASMO

    You can buy this card at the ticket vending machines or commuter ticket sales counters of private railway lines.
    ※PASMO is a registered trademark of PASMO Corporation

Your guide, Gibo-chan

official mascot of Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum


  • Born in Nihonbashi, raised in Ryogoku
  • Birthday:
    March 28
  • Hobby:
    Carrying festival shrines
  • Favorite food:
    Ningyo-yaki, Dorayaki
  • Goal:
    To make a lot of friends!

I’m Gibo-chan. It’s my job to introduce the history of Tokyo at Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum in Ryogoku!