Tuesday, October 22, 2019

How is the quality of life in Tokyo?

World's most livable city

Before I decided to come and work in Tokyo, I often heard my Japanese friends saying they are moving back home because life is so comfortable and convenient in Japan.

The little things such as the cashier would always ask you if you’d like them to heat up your bento meals at convenience stores, which also have amazing services besides selling food and drinks, made me really start to appreciate the Japanese concept of “convenience” in my daily life after I moved here.

Gradually I realized that in Japan, things like high-quality food at a reasonable cost, high-quality customer services, and the always clean and punctual public transport are all part of the “convenient experience”.

If the daily convenience factor could be a good indicator of a city’s livability or quality of life, then Tokyo definitely has a leg up on other contenders.

Livability index which measures the quality of life in large urban cities

Three examples of world’s livability surveys are Monocle’s “Most Liveable Cities Index”, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s “Global Liveability Ranking”, and “Mercer Quality of Living Survey”. Vienna is ranked No.1 in the Economist’s Intelligence Unit’s 2018 Global Livability Ranking.

From 2015 to 2017, for three years in a row, Tokyo has been the world’s most livable city according to Monocle’s Quality of Life survey.

In 2015, for example, the London-based journal of lifestyle and culture awarded the coveted top spot to Tokyo because “the Japanese capital’s defining paradox – its heart-stopping size and concurrent feeling of peace and quiet – helped it claim the crown”.

Tokyo is the host city of the 2020 Olympic Games. The fact that “heart-stopping size” and “feeling of peace” – usually a pair of paradoxical characteristics – can coexist in Tokyo, is reassuring and welcoming news to any visitors to the city.

In 2018’s Monocle Survey, Tokyo, which received the top honor each of the past three years, dropped below Munich to number two, with Monocle noting, “As ever more tourists prepare to visit for the 2020 Olympic Games, Tokyo’s community spirit and civility should be safeguarded.”

The safe and trusting community spirit which has helped Tokyo earn top places in quality of life is what makes life in this mega city secure and comfortable. Up until now, people in Tokyo can leave their bags and even iPhones on the table when they go up to order things at coffee shops, without worrying about their valuables getting stolen.

This kind of community spirit and civility is an intangible quality, when you get it in everyday life you don’t realize how special they are.

Here are the top 10 cities from Monocle’s Quality of Life Survey 2018.
    1. Munich, Germany
    2. Tokyo, Japan
    3. Vienna, Austria
    4. Zurich, Switzerland
    5. Copenhagen, Denmark
    6. Berlin, Germany
    7. Madrid, Spain
    8. Hamburg, Germany
    9. Melbourne, Australia
    10. Helsinki, Finland
I host the podcast series "Culture Eats Japanese For Breakfast". Now available on Spotify or your favorite podcast apps.


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