Akasaka Azabu

What are the cons of living in Tokyo?
  • Date Published: May 14, 2024

Living in Tokyo may seem ideal for many, owing to its vibrant cultural landscape, cutting-edge technology, and numerous opportunities. However, it’s important to note that the city also has its unique collection of challenges and drawbacks. In this article, we’ll explore the various difficulties of life in Tokyo, which encompasses limited housing conditions, issues around water supply, pollution concerns, high living expenses, obstacles in establishing social networks, and complications in navigating the job market.

Key Takeaways:

  • Tokyo faces a housing crisis due to its high population density, leading to overcrowded and expensive living conditions.
  • Water supply issues may arise due to rapid population growth and potential water shortage, putting pressure on existing infrastructure.
  • Pollution is a concern in Tokyo, with industrial and household waste contributing to air pollution and the need for sustainable solutions.
  • Tokyo is known for its high cost of living, particularly in terms of rent and additional expenses, which may impact expat budgets.
  • Making friends in Tokyo can be challenging due to cultural differences and a society that revolves around work and established social circles.
  • The job market in Tokyo can be competitive and demanding, with limited opportunities for non-Japanese speakers and a demanding work culture.

Housing Crisis in Tokyo

Tokyo’s housing crisis is a pressing issue that stems from the city’s high population density. With limited land available for housing, many parts of Tokyo are plagued by crowded living conditions. In fact, it is not uncommon for thousands of people to share multi-storey public housing units in the city. The average population density in Tokyo is one of the highest in the world, putting a strain on the already stretched public housing system. The lack of available housing is exacerbated by the fact that Tokyo’s population continues to grow, further exacerbating the housing situation.

To illustrate the severity of the issue, here is a table comparing Tokyo’s population density with other major cities:

City Population Density (people/square kilometer)
Tokyo 6,158
New York City 10,933
Paris 20,164
Mumbai 20,634

As evident from the table, Tokyo’s population density is considerably higher than other major cities, underscoring the challenges faced in providing adequate housing for its residents.

The lack of housing options in Tokyo has significant implications for its residents. It not only leads to overcrowding but also drives up the cost of living, as demand outweighs supply. The government and local authorities are actively seeking solutions to address the housing crisis, such as promoting decentralization and exploring innovative housing options. However, solving this complex issue requires a comprehensive approach that considers factors like urban planning, infrastructure development, and sustainable solutions.


“The housing crisis in Tokyo is a result of the city’s high population density and limited land availability. It is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed urgently to ensure a better quality of life for Tokyo’s residents.” – Housing Analyst

“The lack of affordable housing options in Tokyo puts a strain on individuals and families, making it difficult to find suitable living arrangements. The government must prioritize addressing this issue to create a more balanced and sustainable housing market.” – Urban Development Expert

In conclusion, the housing crisis in Tokyo is a significant challenge that stems from the city’s high population density and limited land availability. It necessitates immediate attention and comprehensive solutions to provide adequate housing options for Tokyo’s residents and alleviate the strain on the public housing system.

Water Supply Issues in Tokyo

Tokyo, as a megacity, is not immune to the challenges of maintaining a stable water supply. With a rapidly growing population and the impact of recent oil spills on water quality, the city faces potential water shortages in the future. The increasing pressure on the water supply infrastructure calls for proactive measures to ensure sustainable access to clean water for all residents.

“Water scarcity is a pressing issue in Tokyo due to population growth and potential water contamination from recent oil spills,” says Dr. Hiroshi Nakamura, an environmental scientist at Tokyo University. “The demand for water is expected to rise as the population continues to grow, but the supply may struggle to keep up.”

The population growth in Tokyo puts stress on the existing dams and reservoirs that supply water to the city. While the current water supply is stable, the capacity of these infrastructure systems may not be sufficient to meet the future demands. This highlights the need for strategic planning and investment in expanding water storage and distribution infrastructure to ensure a reliable supply in the face of population growth.

Efforts are underway to address the water supply issues in Tokyo. The local government, in collaboration with environmental experts and water management agencies, is formulating long-term plans to secure the water supply for the city. These plans include the implementation of water conservation initiatives, such as promoting efficient water use practices and investing in wastewater recycling technologies. Additionally, research is being conducted to explore alternative water sources, including desalination of seawater and rainwater harvesting, to mitigate the pressure on the existing water supply.

Water Supply Statistics in Tokyo

Year Population Water Demand (million cubic meters per day)
2010 13,185,502 8.3
2015 13,617,445 8.9
2020 14,002,973 9.5
2025 (projected) 14,387,390 10.1

Note: The water demand figures represent the average daily requirement for domestic, industrial, and commercial purposes.

As the population of Tokyo continues to grow, it is crucial to address the water supply challenges to ensure the well-being and sustainability of the city. By implementing comprehensive strategies and investing in water infrastructure, Tokyo can secure a stable and reliable water supply for its residents.

Pollution in Tokyo

Tokyo, like many other major cities, faces significant pollution challenges. The city’s industrial sector and household waste contribute to high levels of pollution, especially air pollution. This is further exacerbated by the dense population and the extensive use of public transportation, resulting in increased emissions from vehicles. The issue of pollution in Tokyo is a pressing concern for both the government and the residents of the city.

Industrial pollution is a major contributor to the overall pollution levels in Tokyo. The manufacturing sector in Japan produces non-combustible waste that is difficult to process, leading to a buildup of waste materials. This industrial pollution has a direct impact on the air quality in the city. Measures need to be taken to regulate and reduce industrial pollution to create a cleaner and healthier environment for Tokyo’s residents.

“Air pollution is a pressing issue in Tokyo, and it affects the daily lives of the people living here. The government needs to take action to curb the pollution levels and promote sustainable practices.” – Tokyo resident

Public transportation also plays a significant role in contributing to pollution in Tokyo. The heavy reliance on buses, trains, and subway systems results in increased emissions from these vehicles, leading to poor air quality. Efforts are being made to improve the public transportation system and reduce emissions through the use of hybrid or electric vehicles. These initiatives aim to address the issue of pollution while maintaining an efficient and accessible transportation network for residents.

Impact of Air Pollution in Tokyo

The high levels of pollution in Tokyo have a detrimental impact on public health. Air pollution is linked to various health problems, including respiratory issues, cardiovascular diseases, and allergies. Tokyo residents, especially those with pre-existing health conditions, are more susceptible to the adverse effects of pollution. Therefore, it is crucial for the government and individuals to take measures to reduce pollution levels and prioritize the well-being of the city’s residents.

Measures to Combat Pollution

To address the pollution issue in Tokyo, the government has implemented various measures. These include stricter regulations on industrial emissions, promotion of renewable energy sources, and incentives for eco-friendly transportation. Additionally, individuals are encouraged to adopt sustainable practices such as reducing waste, using public transportation or cycling instead of driving, and supporting businesses that prioritize environmental protection. These collective efforts are essential in creating a cleaner and healthier living environment in Tokyo.

Solutions to Tokyo’s Problems

Tokyo faces several challenges that impact the quality of life in the city. However, the Japanese government and innovative solutions offer hope for addressing these issues and creating a more sustainable and livable Tokyo.

Solutions to Tokyo’s Housing Crisis

The housing crisis in Tokyo due to the high population density is a significant concern. To alleviate this issue, the government is considering decentralization as a solution. By moving government-owned companies to less populated areas of Japan, it aims to create job opportunities elsewhere and reduce the population density in Tokyo. This would not only help ease the housing crisis but also promote regional development.

Solutions to Water Supply Issues in Tokyo

Tokyo’s water supply is a potential problem with the city’s rapid population growth. To address this issue, the government is focused on improving water management and infrastructure. Innovations in technology, such as water recycling and desalination plants, offer potential solutions to ensure a stable water supply for the growing population. Additionally, raising awareness about water conservation practices among residents can contribute to overcoming water supply challenges.

Solutions to Pollution in Tokyo

The industrial sector and household waste contribute to pollution in Tokyo. To combat this, the government is implementing stricter regulations and promoting sustainable practices. Investing in renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, can reduce reliance on fossil fuels and decrease pollution levels. Additionally, promoting the use of public transportation and implementing stricter vehicle emission standards can help address air pollution in the city.

Problem Solution
Housing Crisis Decentralization: Moving government-owned companies to less populated areas of Japan to create jobs and reduce population density in Tokyo
Water Supply Issues Improving water management and infrastructure, implementing water recycling and desalination plants, raising awareness about water conservation practices
Pollution Stricter regulations, promoting sustainable practices, investing in renewable energy sources, promoting public transportation, implementing stricter vehicle emission standards

These solutions demonstrate a commitment to addressing the challenges Tokyo faces. By implementing these measures, Tokyo can become a more sustainable and livable city for its residents.

Cost of Living in Tokyo

Tokyo consistently ranks among the most expensive cities in the world in terms of the cost of living. The high rent and living expenses in Tokyo can take a significant portion of an individual’s budget. Rent, in particular, is a major expense for residents, and securing a property can be a costly and competitive process. With limited space available, housing prices in Tokyo can be exorbitant, especially in popular neighborhoods.

In addition to rent, living expenses such as utilities and additional fees can add up quickly. Tokyo’s high population density also means that space comes at a premium, resulting in smaller living spaces and higher costs for everyday goods and services. For expats living in Tokyo, it’s important to ensure that their salaries adequately cover these expenses, taking into account not only the cost of housing but also other aspects of daily life.

Expats with families who have school-aged children may also need to consider the additional cost of international school fees, which can be substantial. While the high cost of living in Tokyo can be a challenge, it’s worth noting that expats employed in Tokyo may benefit from healthcare-related savings through employment packages that cover a portion of medical costs.

Education and Schools in Tokyo

Tokyo offers a diverse range of education options, catering to the needs of both local and international students. The school system in Tokyo is well-regarded, with a focus on academic excellence and holistic development. Public schools in Tokyo provide a cost-effective option for families, offering a high standard of education. They follow the Japanese curriculum and are a great opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the local culture and language.

For expat families or students who prefer an international education, there are several international schools in Tokyo. These schools offer a curriculum based on international standards and provide a smoother transition for foreign students. With a more global outlook, international schools often have smaller class sizes, a wide range of extracurricular activities, and strong support for non-native English speakers.

“The international school experience in Tokyo has been amazing for our kids. They have had the opportunity to learn from teachers who understand their needs as expat children and have made lifelong friendships with students from around the world,” says Sarah, an expat parent living in Tokyo.

Public Schools in Tokyo:

School Curriculum Language of Instruction
Tokyo Metropolitan Kokusai High School Japanese Japanese
Katsushika International School Japanese and English Japanese and English
Setagaya Elementary School Japanese Japanese

International Schools in Tokyo:

School Curriculum Language of Instruction
International School of the Sacred Heart IB (International Baccalaureate) English
British School in Tokyo English National Curriculum English
Aoba-Japan International School IB (International Baccalaureate) English

Both public and international schools in Tokyo have their own unique benefits, and the choice between them depends on individual preferences, budget, and educational goals. It’s important to research and visit different schools to find the right fit for your child’s education.

international schools in Tokyo

Lifestyle in Tokyo

Tokyo offers a vibrant and diverse lifestyle, with a plethora of attractions and activities to suit every interest and preference. Whether you’re a fan of history, art, shopping, or cuisine, Tokyo has something to offer that will captivate and delight you.

One of the biggest draws of living in Tokyo is the abundance of attractions. From iconic landmarks such as the Tokyo Tower and Senso-ji Temple to modern architectural marvels like the Tokyo Skytree and the Mori Building Digital Art Museum, there is no shortage of sights to explore and marvel at.

Tokyo is also known for its tranquil escapes amidst the bustling cityscape. The city boasts numerous parks and gardens where you can find solace and serenity. Places like Ueno Park, Yoyogi Park, and the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden provide peaceful retreats where you can relax, enjoy nature, and take a break from the fast-paced urban environment.

For families with children, Tokyo offers a wealth of family-friendly activities. From world-class museums and aquariums to theme parks and interactive play areas, there are endless options to keep children entertained and engaged. Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are particularly popular destinations for families, providing magical experiences and unforgettable memories.

Work-Life Balance in Tokyo

While Tokyo offers an exciting lifestyle, achieving a healthy work-life balance can be a challenge. The city is known for its long working hours and demanding corporate culture. Many professionals in Tokyo work overtime and often have limited paid leave allowances, which can make it difficult to find time for personal pursuits and leisure activities.

However, it’s important to note that work-life balance is a growing topic of discussion in Tokyo, with companies and individuals recognizing the importance of well-being and quality of life. The concept of “workation” (a combination of work and vacation) is gaining popularity, allowing employees to work remotely from different locations within Japan or even abroad.

Attractions in Tokyo Quiet Escapes in Tokyo Family Activities in Tokyo Work-Life Balance in Tokyo
Benefits – Iconic landmarks
– Modern architectural marvels
– Parks and gardens
– Serene environments
– Museums and aquariums
– Theme parks and play areas
– Growing focus on well-being
– Workations
Challenges – Crowded tourist spots
– High ticket prices
– Limited space in public areas
– Crowds during peak times
– Expensive admission fees
– Crowds during school holidays
– Long working hours
– Limited paid leave allowances
Tips – Visit popular attractions during off-peak hours
– Consider purchasing a Tokyo City Pass for discounts
– Explore lesser-known parks and gardens
– Visit during weekdays for a quieter experience
– Plan visits during non-peak seasons
– Check for discounted tickets and family packages
– Prioritize self-care and relaxation
– Seek flexible work arrangements if possible

Healthcare in Tokyo

Tokyo has a comprehensive healthcare system, ensuring that residents have access to quality medical care. One key aspect of healthcare in Tokyo is Japan’s National Health Insurance, which covers a significant portion of healthcare costs. All residents, including expats, are required to have health insurance, providing them with access to a wide network of clinics and hospitals.

Japan’s National Health Insurance plays a crucial role in making healthcare affordable for residents of Tokyo. The insurance system helps to offset the costs of medical treatments, consultations, and prescriptions. This ensures that individuals can receive the care they need without facing significant financial burdens. However, it’s important to note that certain private and high-end medical facilities may not accept the National Health Insurance, leading to potential out-of-pocket expenses.

While Japan’s National Health Insurance provides a solid foundation for healthcare in Tokyo, it is highly recommended for expats to consider supplemental medical insurance. Supplemental insurance can help cover any remaining costs not covered by the National Health Insurance, providing individuals with additional peace of mind and financial protection. This is especially important for those who may require specialized treatments or choose to visit private medical facilities that may not accept the National Health Insurance.

Challenges of Making Friends in Tokyo

Making friends in Tokyo can be a unique experience, especially for expats. The city’s social dynamics and cultural differences often present challenges when it comes to forming close friendships. Japanese society tends to value established social circles and structured social activities, making it more difficult to build connections outside of work or specific activities.

In Japanese culture, people tend to have regimented lives and maintain a certain level of privacy. This can make it challenging for newcomers to break into existing social circles and establish deeper connections. Additionally, language barriers can also be a factor, as many locals may not feel comfortable communicating in English.

However, there are ways to overcome these challenges and foster meaningful connections in Tokyo. Joining common activities or hobby groups, such as sports clubs, language exchanges, or cultural events, can provide opportunities to meet like-minded individuals and build friendships. Living in share houses or participating in community events can also facilitate interaction with both foreign and Japanese residents, creating a supportive network.

social life in Tokyo

Job Market in Tokyo

The job market in Tokyo offers a range of career opportunities for both local and foreign workers. As the economic hub of Japan, the city attracts professionals from various industries seeking growth and development. However, it is essential to understand the working conditions in Tokyo and the dynamics of the job market before making a career move.

Foreign workers in Tokyo can find employment in several sectors, including technology, finance, education, and hospitality. Many expats opt for teaching English as a foreign language, as there is a high demand for English language education in Tokyo. However, it is important to note that teaching positions may not align with long-term career goals and can be demanding.

Japanese companies are known for their demanding work culture with long working hours and a focus on loyalty and dedication. Salaries in Japanese companies may also be relatively lower compared to other developed countries. On the other hand, foreign companies (gaishikei) in Tokyo often provide better working conditions and benefits, although opportunities for using Japanese language skills may be limited.


While Tokyo offers many attractions and opportunities, there are several cons to consider when living in the city. These include a housing crisis, water supply issues, pollution, high cost of living, challenges in making friends, and the complexities of the job market.

Despite these challenges, with proper research and preparation, it is possible to overcome the obstacles and navigate the city effectively. Understanding the housing market and exploring various options can lead to finding suitable accommodation. Seeking out sustainable solutions for water supply issues and actively participating in efforts to reduce pollution can contribute to a better environment.

Managing the cost of living by budgeting and taking advantage of employment packages that cover medical costs can alleviate financial strain. Making friends in Tokyo may require additional effort, but joining common activities and living in share houses can increase social opportunities. Lastly, staying informed about the job market, exploring different career paths, and considering language skills can lead to rewarding professional opportunities in the city.

By acknowledging the challenges and taking proactive steps to address them, individuals can navigate and appreciate their time living in Tokyo while enjoying the numerous attractions and opportunities the city has to offer.


What are the cons of living in Tokyo?

The cons of living in Tokyo include a housing crisis, water supply issues, pollution, high cost of living, challenges in making friends, and the complexities of the job market.

Why is there a housing crisis in Tokyo?

Tokyo has a housing crisis due to its high population density and limited available land for housing. This leads to overcrowding and strains on the public housing system.

What are the water supply issues in Tokyo?

Tokyo’s water supply may struggle to keep up with the demand due to the city’s rapid population growth. Oil spills off the coast of Japan have also affected the quality of the water.

What is the pollution situation in Tokyo?

Tokyo faces pollution challenges from the industrial sector and household waste. The manufacturing sector produces non-combustible waste, and the dense population leads to air pollution from public transport and car exhaust fumes.

What solutions are being considered for Tokyo’s problems?

The Japanese government is exploring decentralization as a solution to the housing crisis, moving government-owned companies to less populated areas. Innovations in technology offer potential solutions to reduce pollution and improve the quality of life.

How expensive is the cost of living in Tokyo?

Tokyo consistently ranks among the most expensive cities in the world. Rent, utilities, and additional fees add to the cost of living. Expats should ensure their salaries can cover these expenses.

What are the education options in Tokyo?

Tokyo offers a range of education options, including public, private, and international schools. Public education can be a cost-saving option, while international schools cater to expat families. However, state schools in Japan can come with high academic pressure, and international schools often have high fees.

What attractions and activities does Tokyo offer?

Tokyo offers a wide range of attractions and activities, including famous landmarks, shopping districts, annual events, parks, and gardens. Families can enjoy family-friendly activities. However, maintaining a work-life balance can be challenging due to long business hours and limited paid leave allowances.

What is the healthcare system like in Tokyo?

Tokyo has a comprehensive healthcare system, with Japan’s National Health Insurance covering a significant portion of healthcare costs. All residents, including expats, are required to have health insurance. Supplemental insurance is recommended for potential out-of-pocket expenses.

Is it difficult to make friends in Tokyo?

Making friends in Tokyo can be a struggle, especially for expats. The social dynamics and cultural differences can make it challenging to form close friendships. Joining common activities and living in share houses can facilitate the process.

What is the job market like in Tokyo?

The job market in Tokyo can be competitive and challenging for expats. Teaching English is a common option, but may not align with long-term career goals. Foreign companies offer better work conditions and benefits, but opportunities for using Japanese language skills may be limited. Japanese companies have demanding work cultures and lower salaries compared to other developed countries.

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