Is it your dream to teach English in Japan?
Want to live in Tokyo?
A lot of people LOVE Tokyo! Great nightlife, tons of people and things to do, your friends and family back home have actually heard of it…
There is really nothing wrong with living in Tokyo. I want to be up front about why I have always personally been against it, but you need to decide for yourself.
Earthquakes are common in Japan, specifically on the eastern side of Honshu Island, where Tokyo is. If you don’t mind the occasional earthquake (like once a week) this isn’t a big deal. I didn’t think I was scared of earthquakes until I moved to Japan, but there have only been probably 3-5 scary-to-me earthquakes in the one and a half years I’ve lived in Japan. (I moved to Kyushu expecting NO earthquakes, but obviously that wasn’t what happened.)
Tokyo is the biggest urban area in Japan and the most expensive place to live in the smallest spaces. Current prices in New York and San Francisco are probably close, but your salary as an ALT won’t be higher for living in a more expensive place.
Noisy. I don’t mind crowded noisy cities that much, but trying to sleep when there’s a train station next door and a club downstairs isn’t something I want to try. No thanks. There are definitely more quiet areas in Tokyo proper. I find those are the parts of Tokyo I enjoy the most, and everything else is still close by.
Random strangers talking to you in English, (looking for a free English lesson or just being rude). I don’t really get this happening to me like Grace does, but then again I don’t live in Tokyo. I rarely even get random strangers talking to me in Japanese.
How are you going to learn Japanese in the city with the most foreigners?
Learning the language will help you to understand the culture and feel so much more comfortable living in Japan. I know people who have lived in remote areas of Japan for one year and become very conversational. If you are required to use Japanese every day because no one speaks English (including your students who may have no motivation to learn if they will live in a small town forever), you will learn so much faster. I also know people who have worked in Tokyo for over ten years and still can’t speak Japanese. I think that’s so disappointing. There are so many foreigners in Tokyo that you will easily be able to find someone to hang out with and speak in English. This is my number one reason to NOT live in Tokyo.
My goal for living in Japan was improving in Japanese. I told my company to put me in a small but convenient city. Most people want to work in Tokyo, so that was not a problem for them. My first year living in Japan, I was less than one hour away from Tokyo by rapid train, but still working in an area full of rice fields. I wrote a Kindle ebook /PDF e-zine about that experience of working as an ALT if you want to learn more.
Tokyo is a great city to visit, there are a lot of job opportunities there, and of course you can live where you choose to. If you live in Tokyo, you can have a great social life and never run out of things to do. (PS: Tokyo Disneyland is not in Tokyo.) There is so much more awesome in Japan, so I encourage you to explore (and deal with everyone back home having no idea where you live).