Moving to Tokyo: Things you should know before you immigrate to Tokyo

The hustle and bustle of the Tokyo metropolis is what drives many to this huge city in the centre of Japan. The capital of Japan is a window of opportunity for those looking for a high-tech urban life mixed with the history of the “Edo” area. Edo, which means bay entrance, was nothing more than a small village, until in the 15th century a nobleman built the Edo castle, which has been an important landmark since those times and still attracts big numbers of visitors. However, nowadays you will see more high-rise buildings than historical castles in Tokyo. Whatever you are looking for, you can be sure to find it in Tokyo. With more and more people moving to Tokyo each year, you too can make the step. With the relocation guide below, you know everything about the if’s and but’s of moving to Tokyo.

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Moving to Tokyo from the USA, or from any other country on the planet, means stepping in the magical world of Japan. Many people are drawn to this country, which is completely different from any other country on the planet. The fast-paced life in Tokyo, together with the impeccable infrastructure and diverse cultural life, is something that you can only experience when seeing it with your own eyes. So, when you are ready, pack your bags and find out what you should know before relocating to Tokyo.

Before making such a radical decision as relocating to Japan, you should brush up on your factual knowledge about Tokyo.

TimezoneUTC +9
CurrencyYen (¥) (JPY)
PopulationTokyo has a population of more than 13 million inhabitants.
How do you call someone from Tokyo?Edokko, Tōkyō-jin, Tōkyōkko, Tokyoite
Official languageJapanese
International dialing code+81 (country code) 3 (area code)
Emergency number119 for emergencies and the fire department, 110 for police.
DrivingOn the left side
TippingTipping is not expected and very uncommon.
Unusual factThe Shinjuku station, with 36 platforms, is the biggest and busiest train station in the world.

When you are relocating from the USA to Tokyo, you might experience a culture shock. With almost everything being different from your usual surrounding you may feel lost after just arriving in Tokyo. Add to that a new job and a new apartment and you could already start missing home on the first day or week. Now, that is all a thing of the past. With Eurosender, international removals to Tokyo are as easy as ABC and you can now simply bring your personal belongings with you on your new adventure. Whether it is your favourite painting, your drum kit or that delicious pot of your grandpa’s honey, now you can all take it with you and enjoy the taste and feel of home. So, don’t wait any longer and order today.

Living in Tokyo

Starting your new life in Tokyo, you may fall from one surprise in the other. Below you see some of the things that other expats found out when relocating to Tokyo.

  • Tokyo is home to the biggest fish markets on the globe, which is called
  • Perhaps you have seen railway employees pushing people in the trains in Tokyo. This is not comedy but actually, a real profession in Japan which is called Oshiya.
  • When you are a fashionista, you should definitely visit the Harajuku district in Tokyo, which is one of the most famous places for alternative fashion.
  • Tokyo has about 13 million inhabitants, but the greater Tokyo Metropolitan area is home to more than 35 million people. So, it might be a little crowded every now and then.
  • Even though Tokyo is extremely densely populated, it also extremely clean.
  • The best way to experience Tokyo is to just go for a stroll and feel the city by yourself.

Visa Regulations for Tokyo

Although Japan has not been eager to let immigrants come to their country, the ageing population has forced Japan the rethink its position. Their policy might be subject to change in the (near) future. This means that is has become easier to get into Japan but compared to other countries it is still a rough journey.

A short-term visa is sufficient for tourism purposes. There are two groups.

  • Citizens of countries with a visa waiver programme regarding Japan, of which there are approximately 70, only need a valid passport for a visit of up to 90 days. After that, you can renew your stay for another 90 days.
  • Citizens of countries without a visa waiver programme, need to apply for a short stay visa, which can be granted with a maximum of six months.

When staying a longer period of time in Japan, applying for a long-term visa and a work permit is mandatory. You have two options.

  • Point system: When you are a skilled worker (for example in the field of engineering, business or research) you can collect points for your skills and diplomas. When you have a score of 70 points or more, you qualify for a skilled worker’s visa. When you don’t apply for this, go to the next option.
  • Regular system: There are several different kinds of visas in this group: Among others, they include: Diplomatic visa, study visa, family reunification visa and so on. Besides these visas, there are also work visas for a number of professions, including for example journalists, professor or entertainer.

Healthcare in Tokyo

Healthcare in Tokyo is of extremely high quality, but you pay the price for this. When you have been staying for over a year, you can join the national healthcare plan. When you do not have this option yet, you will have to go for private healthcare. You may also need this even when you have already joined the national healthcare plan because not all treatments are covered.

The language barrier might be a problem when visiting a doctor in Tokyo. So, the best thing to do is to contact your embassy and ask them where you can find medical services in your local language, or at least in English.

School and education

The school system in Tokyo is the same as in the rest of Japan. Education is mandatory until 16 years old and the system looks as described below.

Elementary school1-6yes
Middle school7-9yes
High school10-12no
Technical college10-14no
Junior college13-14 or 13-15no

Because of the language barrier, most expats send their children to international schools in the Greater Tokyo Area. There are schools that only teach in English or any other language, but there are also schools that introduce pupils to the Japanese language.

The job market in Tokyo

Even though the Japanese economy has had its ups and downs in the last decades, at the moment Japan’s economy can be considered to be quite stable.
When you are looking for employment in Tokyo or the surrounding area (known as the Kantō Region) you should know which areas show signs of growth. Some of the areas where there is a lack of skilled workers are Medical engineering, marketing, design, shipping and anything related to the service industry.
Also take into consideration that, due to Japan’s ageing population, the possibilities for expats to find employment in Tokyo are increasing, even though this might happen slowly.

Property information

Most expats choose to rent an apartment when they just arrive in Tokyo. Depending on which district you work, you can choose a district that is closely located or a bit further away. In the case of the latter, be sure to check how much time your daily commute takes.

When looking for an apartment, it is a good idea to connect with fellow expats that arrived before you. This way, you may be able to avoid using the services of a real estate agent and the accompanying costs. On the other hand, realtors have a good overview of the market and offer a wide range of apartments to choose from.

Apartments usually come furnished but you have to understand that this is Japanese furniture. This means a low table (known as kotatsu) and sitting on the floor. When you want to enjoy western-made furniture, you can ship your tables, chairs and any other furniture by placing an order at Eurosender.

Cost of moving to Tokyo

How much is shipping from the USA to Tokyo? This is a frequently heard question from expats to be. When determining the cost of moving house to Tokyo, it is essential that you go for the right option. Choose the best option below and enjoy the cheapest way to move furniture to Tokyo. Other things you should pay attention to are Packing, Payment and Insurance.

  • Standard Shipping is the way to go when your items do not exceed the dimensions you see below.
    • Maximum weight of 40kg (30kg in some cases).
    • A maximum length of 175 cm.
    • Length (in cm) + 2x width (in cm) + 2x height (in cm) < 300 cm.
  • Freight Service is the best solution when you have loads of stuff to ship. You easily pack everything on pallets and enjoy a speedy delivery.
  • Dedicated Van Delivery is especially useful when you lack time, or you want to have your items shipped individually and not together with other shipments.
  • When you don’t see the service you need, contact our logistics experts and ask for an individual offer. No matter how big or small your object, Eurosender will help you get it to Japan and decrease the average moving costs to Tokyo.

Cost of living in Tokyo

As in any giant metropolis, the cost of living is rather high compared to a middle-of-the-road town. Rent will make a serious dent in your budget and there are many other things you must pay for on a monthly basis such as utility bills, your commute, food and entertainment. Therefore, it is good to know how to easily save on your expenses.

  • Eating in a vending machine restaurant is a cheap, tasty and unusual experience. You order from a vending machine and the staff will bring your meal to your table and all that for roughly $3.
  • Supermarkets give huge discounts on fresh food just before closing time, so don’t forget to pick up your late-night snacks.
  • A capsule hotel is as unusual as it seems. You sleep in a capsule that offers a bed, alarm and Wi-Fi, while the bathroom and toilets are shared. Quickly gaining popularity in Tokyo and the rest of Japan, it is a cheap way to spend the night in another place than your home.
  • With a Japan Rail Pass, you can enjoy discounts and free trips on the Japanese railway system.

Driving in Tokyo

With an International Driving Permit (IDP) (usually available for about $20-25 at your local driving authority in your home country), you can drive for a period of maximum one year. After leaving the country for 3 consecutive months you can drive around for a year once more.

Driving in Tokyo, is driving in one of the largest cities in the world and you may need some time to adjust to the traffic and driving style of the Japanese. Let’s take a look at some things you should know before immersing yourself in the streets of Tokyo.

  • The most obvious difference is the signing. Before you start driving across Tokyo, you should get acquainted with the most frequently used street signs as they are all in Japanese.
  • When you are from Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom, or the US states of Maryland and Washington, you are lucky. Citizens from these countries and states can change their local driving license for a Japanese one without taking any additional exams.
  • The roads in Tokyo are of extremely good quality, with first-class asphalt, multi-level highways and a network of tunnels. All this sophisticated infrastructure also has a downside. It may be confusing to find your way and to get the right exit when you need it. Therefore, it is recommended to get the latest version of GPS in your local language.

See the most popular destinations from where you can move


Moving to Tokyo from Canada is a good variant when you want to radically change your life. About 8 hours by plane from for example Vancouver, there is a world that doesn’t resemble anything in Canada. The people, culture and weather are all different. And then we haven’t even talked about the food. Relocating to Tokyo is something else than moving around within Canada and you will get valuable experiences living in a completely different environment. However, just like anybody else, you will need the feel of home at times. And that is where Eurosender comes in. Whether you want to ship your books, your collections or the favourite games and toys of your kids, with Eurosender it is all within reach.

United Kingdom

Moving to Tokyo from the UK is rapidly becoming more popular. This is partly because of the great popularity of Japanese culture, which includes movies, comics and fashion. When you want to develop yourself in one of these spheres, moving to Tokyo is a good option for you. When you want to take your clothes, sewing machine or laptop with you, the only thing you have to do is place your order at Eurosender.


Other destinations?

Disclaimer: The materials provided in this article were collected from other credible resources to be used for general information purposes only. Given that the legislative basis of the country and its economic development have a changing nature, the information provided in the article could be subject to change. Whilst we endeavour to keep the information up-to-date and correct, Eurosender will not be liable for any inappropriate, incomplete, or inaccurate information. Certain links will lead to websites which are not under control of Eurosender. Thus, Eurosender accepts no liability in respect of materials, products or services being not under control of Eurosender.