10 Fascinating Facts You Didn’t Know About Tokyo

Japan is a fascinating country, full stop. So it stands to reason that its capital city would be just as fascinating!  

It’s unusual and exciting, especially to a Western visitor. There’s so much to see and do, things that most Western cities aren’t able to offer, or in some cases choose not to. 

It’s difficult to find a city that’s full of such serious and reserved people that can also be one of the wackiest places to visit in the world. 

The only way to appreciate it is to book your flight, and then head on over and enjoy.  

To get you started, here are ten fascinating facts about Japan’s capital city. 

Tokyo has been the Japanese capital since 1868 

It used to be a small fishing village called Edo. Edo then became the imperial capital of Japan and subsequently changed its name to Tokyo. Tokyo means Eastern Capital. 

English is not widely spoken 

If you go to other large Asian cities you’ll often find that if you speak English, life can be pretty straightforward for you.  

If you are visiting Singapore or Hong Kong you’ll find that English is actually one of the official languages. More people speak English at home in Singapore than any other language. In Hong Kong it is spoken by over half the population. 

If you want to get by in Tokyo, you’re going to need to learn a little Japanese, otherwise you may struggle with the most mundane of tasks. 

You are more likely to miss Mount Fuji, than see it 

Some of the most idyllic shots of Tokyo have the famous Mount Fuji in the distance, looking down over the great city. A perfect juxtaposition between nature and modern life. 

However, although Mount Fuji is well within distance of the naked eye, smog and weather conditions mean it is visible less than 80 days a year. 

There are more neon signs in Tokyo than anywhere else in the world 

You may accept that Tokyo is more lit up than say Piccadilly Circus or Times Square for example, but even more so than Las Vegas?! 

It is. It has far more streets than Las Vegas and more often than not the entire street is ablaze with neon lights. 

There’s no safer city in the world 

Tokyo is huge, it’s busy and it’s loud. But it is also incredibly safe for travellers of any kind. Crimes are a rarity here. Crimes against tourists are almost unheard of. 

This is not just an opinion. Tokyo regularly features at the top of lists discussing safety or low crime rates. 

Living in a Box 

Space is at a premium in any city but in Tokyo, it is an absolute rarity. This has led to the development of ‘capsule hotels’. 

These are micro hotel ‘rooms’ where guests squeeze into a capsule, not much bigger than their body, for a cheap overnight stay. 

They’ll certainly have you yearning for spacious serviced apartments in Tokyo, from companies such as thesqua.re. 

Tokyo has the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world 

If you’ve seen the stream of people walking across Oxford Circus in London when the green man appears then you may find this hard to believe. 

However, Shibuya Crossing regularly sees up to two and a half thousand people crossing it at exactly the same time. Now that’s busy! 

Tourists pay no tax on their shopping 

It’s true! Tokyo may have a reputation of being one of the most expensive cities in the world ($40 watermelon anyone?), but not many people know that as a foreign tourist they can shop tax free at licensed stores. 

You just need to ensure you spend over 5,000 yen and that you take your passport with you. 

People are employed to push you onto busy trains 

This is not a myth, this is absolutely true!  

They are known as Oshiya, which loosely translates as ‘Pushers’. Believe it or not, their official name is actually ‘Passenger Arrangement Staff’! 

Their job is exactly as it sounds. During busy periods station staff will literally push people onto crowded trains, in order to get as many people on as possible. 

Tokyo has some of the best restaurants in the world 

People often complain that the Michelin star rating system is unfairly biased towards Paris. However, most people don’t realise that the city with the most three-star Michelin restaurants is in fact Tokyo. 

Tokyo is home to some of the most famous, highly rated, experimental and exclusive eateries to be found anywhere in the world.  

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