To quote esteemed traveler and writer, Pico Iyer: “Home is not just the place where you happen to be born. It’s the place where you become yourself.” Thus, the city we live in should match our personalities, or better yet, make our true selves come alive. If you’re thinking about your next country of residence, or simply trying to figure out if this city is the right one for you, this list might show you whether Tokyo really is where your heart is.
By Jenie Gabriel
1) You’re a true blue otaku
Manga, anime, robots, trains, cosplay, video games, gadgets, comics, toys and action figures—no matter what hobby or obsession, Tokyo is a haven for otaku of all ages. Home to a multitude of arcades, electronic stores, toy and hobby shops, gashapons, costume dens, themed-cafes and eclectic restaurants, it comes as no surprise that geeks from around the globe flock to this sub-culture mecca.
2) You believe graciousness should be the norm
Graciousness is a trait that sets Japanese people apart, and the presence of helpful locals is one of the top reasons why Tokyo was named the top travel destination this year by TripAdvisor. Hospitable dispositions, respectful, 45 to 60-degree bows, and loud, synchronized greetings of “Irasshaimase!” and “Arigato gozaimasu!” at retail stores or local shops are considered commonplace in the Land of the Rising Sun.
3) You’re not afraid of crowds
If you can stay calm and composed at the sight of pushing and shoving salarymen and office ladies on Tokyo trains during rush hour (who can be, understandably, a bit inhospitable, especially if you’re trying to grab a seat), or if you don’t mind (literally) rubbing elbows with them, then you have a higher chance of survival in this densely populated part of the world. The good news: pickpockets and people with body odor are rare. The bad news: females need to be extra cautious and take women-only coaches to protect themselves from a “handful” of deviant passengers.
4) You’re a pro in non-verbal communication
If you’re one of the brave souls who had no knowledge of Japanese but moved to Nippon anyway, then you’ve probably mastered the art of non-verbal communication by now. Miming skills, body language, facial expressions, and simplified English are indeed valuable wherever you go. However, if you’d like to save yourself a little time and effort, it might be wiser to download the Google Translate app or keep some survival Japanese phrases in your back pocket (or in some corner of your mind).
5) You’re a fan of everything quirky and kawaii
When it comes to ingenuity and quirkiness, Japan has made an indelible mark on the planet. The Japanese have a knack for inventing wacky and out-of-this-world products, and novelty shops like Don Quijote and Village Vanguard have proven that there is a big market for items, which can go directly to the Wall of Weird. Similarly, the kawaii crowd also thrive in the city that mass produces the cutest stuff printed with a neko or a panda, animated characters, rainbows, cupcakes, or anything pastel. And how can we forget the country’s Internet-famous pets, such as Maru and, the hamster bartender, and the cigarette-selling dog, who have made at least a few of us go “Aww…” at our office desks.
6) You want to improve your Japanese
Let’s face it, Japanese is one of the most difficult languages to learn. Nonetheless, there’s no better way to acquire it than by handling day-to-day exchanges in the country’s capital. Nervous learners are left with no choice but to conquer their fears when choosing their poison at izakayas or asking for directions at train stations. Unfortunately, some complain that despite their efforts to communicate in Japanese, locals prefer to answer in English so they can practice their skills as well.
7) You don’t mind being sleep-deprived
In a recent global survey reported by AsiaOne, Tokyo was named one of the most sleep-deprived cities, clocking an average of 5 hours and 46 minutes per night. Be it because of working overtime, sake-fuelled karaoke sessions, or playing video games, most Tokyoites lack sleep and it’s no wonder they’re desperate to catch some winks on trains or during lunch break. Another side effect is their heavy reliance on caffeinated beverages from vending machines and convenience stores.
8) You have an itchy feet and love exploring the unknown
Many tourists agree that a few days in Tokyo are not enough and would only leave you wanderlusting for more. With a plethora of places to visit and things to amuse all your senses with, roaming the hidden alleys and merely navigating the city can satisfy an adventurer’s desires. Exploring travel gems outside the metropolis by train is an icing on the cake too. Furthermore, in a place where modernity meets tradition, politeness meets rudeness, and out-of-the-box thinking is meant to co-exist with conservative beliefs, the ability to handle contradictions is a must. So if getting lost excites you and open-mindedness is one of your strong suits, this city promises to impress and you’ll find yourself entertained with the bizarre, ingenious, eye-catching, and unexpected.
Can you name other reasons why you’re meant to be a Tokyoite? Speak up and share your thoughts with us!