Please note: This is an adaptation of a post originally written by Eva of The Things You Said.
I’ve come to understand that, like all things fascinating and beautiful, Tokyo is not perfect. Nor should it be – because perfection is utterly boring and most definitely overrated.
The Japanese even have a word for it – of course they do – it’s wabi-sabi (侘寂), meaning the art and acceptance of imperfection. And hence, even though Tokyo is far from perfect, I do believe that in all of its wabi-sabiness, it might just be the greatest city in the world.
Here are my 35 reasons why…
1. Public intoxication: It’s legal, it’s fun, it’s acceptable here. If you pass out on the sidewalk in America, you’re a bum. If you pass out on the sidewalk in Tokyo, you’re the average, hard-working business man.
2. The toilets are far superior: Along with a washer to clean your bum, music to disguise your tinkles and a host of other didn’t-know-I-needed-that gadgetry, toilets in Japan come installed with heaters for the winter. Any country that pays such heed to the comfort of your butt is a winner in my book.
- Forget New York when it comes to the city that never sleeps. Tokyo deserves the title hands down. Bars are open 24 hours and convenience stores never close. This city is so over populated, it feels like people are always around, no matter what time it is. Love hotels, capsule hotels, karaoke bars, and internet cafes all cater to a society of people who never have to actually go home to sleep.
4. Tokyo has the most intricate, advanced train system in the world. And after the bicycle, trains are the next best thing. I have spent countless hours sitting, standing, putzing around in stations, marveling over the magic that is the Japan Rail system. They’re so nice to look at, coming in and out of the station in marching order, and always on time. It’s truly a work of art.
5. Love Hotels.
6. Traditional Japanese temples are found in nooks and crannies all over the city, the perfect antidote to the hub bub of the city and Japan’s futuristic, ultra modern side.
7. You can wear whatever the heck you want, anytime, anywhere. Wigs, latex, a monkey costume? Sure, it’s all good.
8. Small businesses thrive in this city. In Tokyo, every street is lined with something quirky, unique and totally home grown. When you grow up in the ‘burbs, where everything is generic, this is amazing.
9. There are fewer class struggles here. This is a concept that continues to baffle me because sadly, my western society is one that is very much divided and defined by class systems. The psychological, sociological, and philosophical implications of money (or the lack thereof) in our lives are are ingrained in to our heads from day one. Yet in Japan, 90% of Japanese people consider themselves middle class. Yes, read that sentence again if you have to because it’s totally NUCKING FUTS!!!
10. It’s ok to sleep in public: In Tokyo, it’s totally normal to sleep on the train, or to put your head down in Starbucks or MacDonald’s to take a short nap. Do this in other capital cities and chances are you’ll wake up with your wallet missing.
11. They have hang over medicine that works. Perfect for the morning after a big one at…
12. The Nightclubs: Tokyo has some of the best clubs in the world. Womb has a 2 meter diameter disco ball – enough said.
13. Cherry blossom season is beautiful here. People take a week off to sit under pink, cloud-like trees to eat street food and drink while admiring one of nature’s most stunning gifts. Even Christmas isn’t this cool.
14. Symmetry: I’ve always liked symmetry and Tokyo is full of it! I love the way this city looks – as if it were made up of puzzle pieces that have been thoughtfully rearranged.
15. Beverage vending machines: Japan will never go thirsty. You can get a cold drink at the top of a mountain on a summer’s day, a beer on your way out the door to get your night started, or a hot milk tea at 3am on your way back home.
16. There is Matcha (Green tea) everything.
17. It’s a great city for bikes!! I LOVE riding my bike in Tokyo; it feels like riding on the marble floors of the Vatican. The streets are smooth, glossy, pristine and perfect for cruising on your two-wheeler. Not to mention the diverse places you can explore – there’s always something new and exciting to find.
- The variety of neighborhoods. Forget cookie cutter; Japanese neighborhoods are full of character and all so different. I’ve lived here for a year, and I still haven’t made it to a fraction of the areas on the subway map.
19. Matsuri (festivals). If we had celebrations as vibrant and festive as this in America, riots would break out and sh*t would be stolen. They’re truly a stunning display of color, sound and smell- a must see for any traveler.
20. Everything is clean. There is no need for the 10 second rule here. Everything is spotless, which is incredible considering the number of people passing through a street or establishment on any given day.
21. For the most part, people are polite. Or at the very least, considerate. Crowds cooperate seamlessly, even on a rainy day where a thousand umbrellas are battling for space.
22. Crows! 99% of people here will disagree with me, but I love the crows in Japan because they’re one of the only things in this country that aren’t minuscule. In fact, they’re freaking HUGE and thus, they are way bad ass.
23. The bath culture: Baths in America are reserved for 5 year olds and hot MILFS with sore feet. Baths in Japan are for everyone, and often done naked in front of a lot of other people. Every neighborhood has its own bath house and its considered totally normal to go in whenever (everyday, if you want) to soak for an hour or two for some R&R.
24. Karaoke: If you’re a hater, you just don’t know. The karaoke experience in Tokyo is unlike the often hard-to watch experience found in drab western dive bars. In Tokyo, private karaoke rooms come with disco lights, all you can drink menus, tambourines and even costumes!
25. Delivery services: I can’t express enough my love for the Japanese Mail System. I would give up television for the rest of my life if I could be guaranteed to have mail this efficient in America. Things arrive quick, on time and in one piece. If you aren’t home when your package arrives, you can call the mailman and he’ll come back THAT day! You can deliver anything, from artwork to furniture, at an affordable price. And if you don’t want to take your luggage onto the train on your way to the airport, your friendly local delivery man will pick it up and take it to the airport for you!!!!
26. Shoes: Tokyoites have the BEST shoes. They’re much more imaginative and expressive when it comes to matters of the feet.
27. Conbinis or convenience stores. Always there, always open. Always have something delicious inside waiting to be eaten by me.
28. Reliability: In other countries you never know when the vending machine is going to eat your money or when the bus is going to come. Internet is always going down and packages get lost in the mail. In Tokyo, things like this rarely happen. We conduct our daily lives with the assurance that our expectations will be met.
29. Fit, healthy people: I never realized how depressing it was to be around obese people until I wasn’t anymore.
30. Safety: Friends who have lost cell phones and wallets almost always get them back in the mail. Japanese people are really, really honest and violence is a rarity. You can’t put a price tag on safety.
31. Customer service is excellent. According to The New York Times, it’s where you go to get the world’s best service.
32. The accessibility to the beach, mountains and other cities from Tokyo is fantastic. I know of people who go surfing every morning before work! You can head to the mountains and ski in the winter if that’s more your thing. And because of Tokyo’s Shinkansen (the high speed rail), you can get to Kyoto or Osaka – cities with a completely different feel to Tokyo – in just a couple of hours.
33. Shibuya crossing. I didn’t know you could be in love with a crossing, but apparently, you can. I still get goose bumps every time I cross it, and I do it almost everyday!
34. The four seasons here: Tokyo has really great weather and Fall and Spring here last for three months each. It doesn’t get too cold, and I enjoy the summer heat.
35. And finally, my number one, all time favorite thing about Japan- The FOOD. It has ranked number one in the world for most three-star Michelin restaurants since 2009 – a sign of an incredible food city. But even for non fine-dining, the quality and excellence of the food here is sublime.
OKAY, so that’s my list. Tokyoites – what did I miss?
pssst: want to write about why YOUR city is the best in the world? Write to us at [email protected] to find out about our writing opportunities.