What’s it Like Living in Tokyo? 13 Things You Need to Know

There are almost two million non-Japanese people living in Tokyo.

That’s a big number. Although the foreign population is mostly made up of Chinese and Koreans, many western people from the US, Canada, and Europe flock to Japan to live. I lived in Nagano Prefecture for a year and a half and now, in my third year of living in Tokyo, I’ve decided to stay here.

Here are 13 things, good and bad, about living in the capital of Japan.

1. To live in Tokyo, you need a visa

Source: http://www.nic-nagoya.or.jp/en/e/archives/6757

To get a visa, you need to go to the Tokyo Immigration Bureau in Shinagawa with your Certificate of Eligibility from your employer. There’s lots of information about this online.

2. The trains are really complicated

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_in_Greater_Tokyo

But once you get the hang of them, they’re brilliant. They’re clean, safe, central lines arrive every few minutes and they’re almost always on time.

3. The city is really clean

It’s also really safe. Downtown nighttime areas are obviously a bit scruffy, such as Roppongi and Shibuya, but even they have people cleaning up the beer cans and cigarette butts. Visitors always seem to be pleasantly surprised at how much the Japanese take care of their surroundings.

4. However, Tokyo isn’t perfect

Crime does still happen and it’s important to take basic safety procedures. Know, though, that you’re safer walking around at night alone than you would be in many other cities.

5. There are convenience stores everywhere

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/okinawa-soba/5976773233

Whether you want a rice ball at 5am or need some last-minute drinks for your party, a Lawson, Family Mart, 7-11 or Sunkus has your back. “Konbinis” are everywhere and are super convenient – though a little expensive for everyday goods.

6. Get a Suica or Pasmo travel card

Source: http://youinjapan.net/moving/suica_pasmo_icoca.php

Just get one. Do it as soon as possible. You can buy a Suica or Pasmo (they’re basically the same thing) at any ticket machine at a train station for 500 yen. You top them up with as much as you want, and you can use them on trains, the subway, the bus, and even in convenience stores and for most vending machines. You’ll be glad you’ve got one when you’re not buying train tickets every time you travel or scrabbling for cash at the shops.

7. Even though Tokyo is super futuristic, there are still traditional “washiki” toilets

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wlscience/2096245234

Whether you refuse to try them or you’ve had to use one out of sheer desperation, washiki toilets, or traditional hole-in-the-ground loos, are still around in the same city as robots and virtual reality systems. We aren’t sure if it’s simply for the sake of tradition or if people actually prefer them, but in certain restaurants and public bathrooms you may sometimes still come across a washiki. Would you dare use one?

8. Tokyo is home to dozens of festivals

The Japanese know how to celebrate, whether it’s with fireworks, carrying small shrines, setting things on fire or getting drunk under cherry blossom trees. If you live in Tokyo, you’re bound to come across a festival or two on your travels. Do some research, prepare, and jump in!

9. The parks get heavily crowded during cherry blossom season

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/31029865@N06/16585532608

The cherry blossoms, or “sakura”, bloom from around mid-March to mid-April, and it’s a very special time here in Japan. They say it’s when the gods come down for just a few weeks, and to celebrate, people participate in “hanami” – that is, have a picnic under the blossoming pink trees and, if they’re adults, get good and drunk.

Unfortunately, that means that all the most beautiful parks are pretty crowded, especially during the weekends. If you’d like to try hanami, you should go early in the morning and during a weekday, if possible.

10. There are areas run by the mafia

Nowhere is officially off-limits, but it’s important to remember that some districts in Tokyo, such as Shinjuku, are highly controlled by the Japanese mafia, the Yakuza. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get into any sort of trouble with them, but mafia-controlled places tend to be insanely expensive.

Watch yourself if you visit Kabukicho, the red light district of Tokyo. Check out this article for some sound advice on the area.

11. Japan is very four-seasons

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vitroids/6239481883

Remember those Japanese video games where if it was winter, it was snowy, if it was summer, it was hot? They aren’t exaggerating – Japan is pretty four-seasons, and Tokyo isn’t any different. As someone from England, the abruptly changing weather surprised me the first time.

Although it doesn’t snow very often in Tokyo, it is cold and dry, though usually very clear and beautiful for views of Mt. Fuji. Summer is hot, humid and June brings the sticky rain. Spring brings us blooming flowers, and autumn the red leaves of coming winter.

12. Not a lot of people speak English

If you visit the touristy places such as Asakusa, Harajuku, Shinjuku and Odaiba, you’re likely to run into workers who can speak English quite well. However, those outside the tourism field tend not to speak English, either because they forgot all their high school classes and have no interest, or because they’re simply too shy. However, this is just my personal experience. I found that a lot more people tried to speak English when my family members have come to Japan to visit.

That being said, it can’t be hurt to learn a bit of Japanese if you decide to live in Tokyo.

13. There are many things considered rude

Source: https://pixabay.com/en/screaming-surprised-smiley-emotion-146426/

There are a lot of things that are fine at home but are big no-nos in Tokyo and beyond. Check out this article on 6 things you should never do in Japan.

So there are 13 things you should know about living in Tokyo – I’m sure there are many more, and I’ll add to them as they come. Got more to add? Let me know!

Thank you for reading this article. If you’d like to check out my fantasy books, see my Amazon page. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (I follow back!) and give me a like on Facebook! Love you bros. Have a good one!

Actual Stuff You Can Buy in Japanese Shops

The other day, I headed to the department store AEON in Gunma with my homestay family. There we found a shop called VILLAGE VANGUARD, or as I call it, the shop of tat. It sold stuff you would just never need, ever. Take a look at some of my personal favourites. #OhJapan


Unchi bank, or poo bank. 1000 yen, or around £7, for a plastic poo to put your coins in. Where in your house would that look good?

This PPAP sensation is getting out of hand. Now you can buy PPAP notebooks, and actual apple pens and pineapple pens. Very useful for… um…




And the worst one of all…


…For if you want to put your mates off curry for life.

Thanks for reading! Why not follow me on Twitter? I always follow back! @poppyreidwriter

Sayounara ❤


Extremely Irritating Things That Parents Have to Stop Doing Right Now

Let me make one thing clear: no, I don’t have children. I’m not even close. However, I’ve grown up with numerous siblings, step-siblings, little cousins, friends of the family and taught enough children that I’ve been around more kids than most.

Most days I see parents doing things that just make me think mate, what are you doing. I decided to compile a list of the most irritating parents do. If you do any of these things, please take a look at yourself.

Lying to your kids. This irritates me no end. Whether it’s pacifying them to keep them quiet or letting them think Santa Claus is real, lying to your child damages their trust, gives them false hope in certain situations, and often confuses them. Kids aren’t dumb. Treat them with respect.


Putting photos on Facebook. Constantly. Congrats, you produced a little ball of snot and vomit and poo. We’re all very happy for you. It doesn’t mean we have to see 50 pictures a day (not to mention status updates) of “my kid just walked its first steps!” “We’re having a great Christmas!” “My son/daughter is ill :(” PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN AND SPEND NORMAL, SOCIAL MEDIA-FREE TIME WITH YOUR CHILD. PLEASE.


Ignoring your baby when it’s crying. Look, I know your baby cries a lot. I know you’re probably sick of it and tried everything to calm it down and now you’re just used to blocking out its screams. But when I see mothers using their phones while their small child is crying, or parents refusing to acknowledge their little ball of joy is annoying everyone else in a two-mile radius, it gets grating.

Let me be clear: I sometimes see babies crying, and their mothers cradling them, talking to them, or whatever. That is fine. If anything, I feel pity. It’s when I see babies getting completely ignored.

Look at that grin on his face. He probably doesn’t even realise he’s been bad. *Rolls eyes*

Taking a picture of them when they’ve been naughty. “Hold on sweetheart! Yeah, right there with the toilet paper in your hand! Maybe sit here so it’s surrounding you! All right, don’t move, I’m going to take a picture! OK! NO, don’t smile, look guilty, like I’ve just walked in! There, perfect! Let’s see how many likes it can get!”


6 Signs Your A Grammar Nazi

1. The title of this post made you wince. It’s “YOU’RE”, damn it!


2. Bad grammar and spelling upsets you more than content.


3. THIS bothers you more than it should.


4. You get inexplicably angry when someone declares that their spelling “isn’t wrong, it’s creative.”


5. You refuse to repost a hilarious meme because they used the wrong version of “there/their/they’re”


6. If someone uses incorrect spelling and grammar, it’s impossible to take them seriously.



Seriously. Proofread before you post. It could save lives.


Quite Exciting News

Hi everyone! As you might know, it is less than two weeks until my full time job as an English teacher comes to an end, and frankly, it can’t get here fast enough. Writing full time is going to be an amazing journey, one that won’t be interrupted with tiredness and lack of time.the-queens-alchemist-book-cover

To celebrate, I’ve made The Queen’s Alchemist and More Tales of Atharron permanently free on Amazon. It is my newest book, a short collection of fantasy stories. Here are some reasons you should dowload it right now:

  • It takes less than 30 minutes to read
  • If you still haven’t read Blood of the Fallen, The Queen’s Alchemist gives you a taste of the author’s writing style and a glimpse into the fantasy world of Theldiniya and Atharron, five hundred years before the events of the Blood Scrolls Trilogy.
  • It has an average of 4.8/5 stars on Amazon.
  • It’s fantasy, so if you love a quick fantasy read, this might be for you.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out The Queen’s Alchemist for yourself.

Anyway, if you decide to get it, that’d be awesome. If not, thank you for reading this blog post anyway, and I wish you an amazing day. Loveyabyeee!

The Most Dangerous Games: A Small Radio

The Ghost In My Machine

Previously: Channel Infinity.

Normally I wouldn’t post a second game quite so soon after posting the last one, but guess what? It’s October. And October means it’s Halloween season. And since it’s Halloween season, now seems like a good time to look at “A Small Radio.” I mentioned it briefly last year, but due to a lot of Big Life Changes, I wasn’t able to cover it in time for Halloween 2015. I put it on my to do list for the following year, though, and, well… here we are. 

Originally posted to the Creepypasta Wikia by user MacaroniArtZombeh in August of 2013, this game can only be played on a very particular day; trying to do it at any other time will result in a failed attempt. So I figured I’d put it on your radar now, at the beginning of the month, so you have…

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Blood of the Innocent Has Been Shortlisted!

This morning, I got an email saying that Blood of the Innocent has been shortlisted as Book of the Year! This is HUGE!51hlns7z9dl

I’m so grateful to everyone who took the time to vote. Now I would LOVE it if you could vote just one more time…

All you have to do is:

  • Click this link
  • Scroll to the bottom
  • Find “Blood of the Innocent by Poppy Reid”
  • Enter your email address

And that’s it!

Thank you so much!

*Happy dances*