Why I Don’t Like Tokyo.


Simply put, I don’t LOVE Tokyo.

But sometimes I’m not even sure I LIKE Tokyo.

It’s not an opinion I like to voice, especially since I assume most of the people living here are huge Tokyo proponents. And I’m not a wet dish rag kinda gal- there’s usually no point in complaining, especially to people who probably disagree.

When people ask me what I really think of Tokyo, I feel like I’m not supposed to tell the truth. Sometimes I lie. I fear my reasoning for disliking Tokyo will come up short, that my opinions are the ignorant and ill-informed opinions of a foreigner. And if one more person tells me the only reason I don’t like it here is cause’ I’m not getting laid, I’ll vomit all over them. Because as much as I hate to admit it, it’s probably true. And bitterness is NEVER a good defense.

But now that I am contemplating returning back to America, I feel it’s as good a time as any to let it all hang out. Besides, at this point, it’s more daunting to avoid answering than it is to tell the truth. So I’m gonna go ahead and do something I don’t usually do-  I’m gonna talk a whole lotta shit.

The things dislike about Tokyo can easily be categorized into two compartments:

1. Basic things I dislike about Tokyo that are fundamentally, undeniably true.

2. Personal things I dislike about Tokyo from a relative perspective.

The undeniable truffs’:

  • It’s fucking crowded. In Tokyo, you are always in someones way. Rush hour train rides are a claustrophobic persons worst nightmare. You are never ALONE, and I for one, love being alone.
  • Space, in all definitions of the word, is limited. There is something integrally wrong when someone can touch all four corners of their apartment while sitting in the middle of the room and still pay 900$ for rent.
  • According to a 2009 BBC report, Tokyo is the most expensive city to live in for expats. I’m still bitter about the 18$ movie ticket.
  • Fruits and vegetables are scarce and overpriced,  which is a downer if you’re part hippie. Or from Los Angeles.
  • men-bra Men in Tokyo wear BRAS! Men in Tokyo wear high-heals. Men in Tokyo carry purses. They spend more money at the salon than I do (and I get jealous when they’re prettier than I am). Men in Tokyo cannot grow facial hair. The fact that Japanese man are more effeminate than western men is true.  What’s relative to me is that I miss big dirty, smelly guys with mutton chops and dirty staches’.
  • To say that Tokyo is a superficial/materialistic city would be a relative opinion, but fact wise, I quote this: In Japan, “a population not even half as large as that of the United States consumes an incredible 41 percent of the entire world’s luxury goods.” Say what?! “An area only about the size of Montana, Japan is studded with 34 Bulgari stores, 37 Chanel stores, 115 Coach stores, 49 Gucci stores, 64 Salvatore Ferragamo boutiques, 50 Tiffany & Co. boutiques, and 252 stores of the LVMH Group, a conglomerate of many of the world’s leading brands including Louis Vuitton, Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Berluti, Moet & Chandon, TAG Heuer and De Beers LV, a joint venture with the world’s leading diamond group.” People here spend a lot of time and money keeping up with the Joneses’.
  • Males reign supreme. Sexism lives. CLANNAD_Bondage_2___Bullying__by_MaullarMaullar
  • In this country, feigning rape is considered a turn on. Japanese women pretend to dislike sex to please their partners. There are so many things wrong with that situation, I could write a book about it.
  • People here don’t break rules. They don’t even know how, which is like, really sad.
  • Oh yeah. And there is no public transportation past midnight.

But in the end, all that stuff is inconsequential. It’s a small price to pay to live in one of the great cities of the world.  It’s not like London and New York are perfect, either. And if crowds and shopping and rape are your thing, well then, Tokyo is like a shopping rapists paradise come true!

But seriously, my dislikes for Tokyo are more personal, and I feel bad ragging on Tokyo cause’ I know it’s not her fault. She’s actually really pretty at all lit up at night with her symmetrical buildings and flashing signs. It’s just that there are some things I can’t seem to accept, that’s all, and I want to make clear that I am in no way arguing that my culture is better or that Japanese culture is worse. The following dislikes are based much more on personal preference than anything else.

1. I don’t like Tokyo because abstract, on the fly aesthetics are painfully contrived. This is by far my number one biggest gripe with Tokyo. I am a HUGE fan of Japanese architecture, film, and high-fashion- because the details and simplicity that go into these arts are very unique to the Japanese style. But street art of any kind is completely devoid of soul and integrity. The store designs, the graffiti, the street-fashion, the music, the people- everything  is done as they think it’s supposed to be done, every step premeditated to make  it look as if it were natural.

In New York, when you see graffiti on the bathroom wall of some dive bar, it’s there because some drunk, debacherous kid was restless and bored and fucked shit up in the name of rebellion. But when you see graffiti on the wall of  at a Japanese dive bar, it’s there because the bar owner hired some professional to come in a tag up the walls at 10$ an hour. This, to me, is one of the saddest things I”ve ever seen and it breaks me heart every time. (It can be argued that this type of poserism is prevalent in every city. I disagree but I’m too lazy to argue my case).

2. I MISS BLACK PEOPLE. Well, I miss diversity on the whole. But black people know how to party like this. Asians do not.

3. If you like Disneyland, you’ll LOVE Tokyo. Tokyo, like Disneyland, is sterile. It’s too clean and really safe, which are admirable traits, but also unrealistic. Tokyo is like a bubble where people can live their lives in a very naive and enchanted way because real problems do no exist. Homeless and disabled people are not considered real human beings here. Like Disneyland, Tokyo is a fabricated city based on the idea that the truth should not be acknowledged, that it’s okay to pretend that the world is a place filled with only good and no bad. If you like perfection, Tokyo is inspiring. But if you happen to like imperfection, if the flaws and gaps in reality are beautiful to you, than Tokyo can very easily feel like a city without a soul.

4. Tokyo has one of the highest suicide rates of any city in the world. It’s really nice that health rate here is high, but its kinda pointless if you’ve got people offing themselves salarymen372in front of trains EVERYDAY. What’s amazing to me is how the Japanese are able to go against human nature to withstand such unnatural life styles. I’ll be the first one to say that I admire them deeply for their ego-less mentality,  selfless  sacrificing and overall hard work.  But dayem, yo…. it’s kind of depressing. People walk around all day like zombies, thousands upon thousands of men dressed identically the same. All the life been sucked out of them.  People don’t smile, or talk to strangers, or even acknowledge you if you slip and fall. In fact, they rarely stop at all. There’s something completely unnatural about this way of life, even kind of creepy. All too often I hear from Japanese people that they simply are not happy.

5. I’ll just have to compact all the rest of my complaints into one last point, cause sadly, these could go on forever. Japanese people are conformists, which can be beautiful, but also very boring. They don’t usually tell you what they think or express their own unique thoughts, assuming they have any at all. They love passivity (passive voice is used A LOT in the Japanese language) so nothing is ever done head on. Things that can be done in 10 minutes take 30. They have a terrible sense of humor- everything is funny to them. They laugh and over compliment you to appease you. There is no sense of community- your neighbors will ignore you because they don’t want to get “involved.”  There’s no open communication, no reaching out.  There is a general sense of loneliness in the air. Or maybe, I just feel lonely. And maybe that’s what this is all about.

But in my defense, for everything one thing that drives me nuts about this place, theres another thing equally beautiful and titillating and wonderful. Note that I don’t hate Tokyo. There are in fact a plethora of things I LOVE about this city, all of which weave into my mental pattern as I consider how much longer I will stay in this city. But I guess I’ll have to get into that next time.

PS. For all ya’ll Tokyo lovers or fellow friends in Tokyo, I welcome any feedback. I look forward to hearing varying opinions.


Filed under Japan

23 responses to “Why I Don’t Like Tokyo.

  1. Tommy

    Haha, I agree with a few things you have posted here. Myself being another person not getting laid in Tokyo, I was starting to get negative, but then I started having a lot of “me” time and enjoying the city for what I see it as, instead of how I can enjoy it with others.

    You miss black people? Since I AM black, maybe that is why I can’t say I don’t like Tokyo, haha!

    Also, I live in Yokohama. Close enough to Tokyo to go hang out, yet far enough away to have cheap groceries, abundant fruits and veggies, and a beautiful bay and city near the station. Lots of Chinese, Koreans, Indians and others here, so I get the diversity bit too.

    You should check out Yokohama!

  2. Con


    I laughed so hard I almost needed a wet dish rag to wipe the drool & tears off my face.

    First I must agree to disagree. I do miss diversity terribly. However I don’t miss being told off by the bitch thrice my size taking my seat on the train in NYC. Cuz I am Asian and small and she can kick my ass if I don’t. I don’t miss the fear of being run over or chase after by a punk ass Korean Hummer driver because I honked and flipped him off of the I-405.

    That being said, I have to agree I dislike Japan for obvious reasons. One being spontaneity. It doesn’t exist here. Everything is carefully planned. Everything. Obedience is a way of life. Including getting laid unless you are white and gaijin. In the land of the rising sun, gaijins can do no wrong and so much more harm. In the land of the rising sun, materialistic prosperity is a key characteristic for the highly educated, egotistic leaders of society.

    But I like to point out (as a bike rider) there are no potholes in Japan. Not on the road, not even on the sidewalk. This intricate, bustling city is unlike anywhere else in the world. Japan is not without problems, of course, and some are disconcerting by our standards. But the Japanese have a much better chance than we do of surviving into the next century as a coherent, prosperous country because they are conformist.

    Japan is one of the most homogeneous places on earth. ”Ethnic” Japanese make up 98.5 percent of the population. Therefore easy to view it as dull uniformity. However, Japan has as much variety—cultural, esthetic, culinary—as anyone could want…..

    To sum it up, I love what you wrote…invariably force me to view Japan in a different light. Definitely gonna look out for men bras from now!!

    • Hey Con,

      I’m glad you thought it was funny, cause it was meant to be! Bobak read it and said I sounded depressed. But I was just hoping to get a raise out of people.

      But seriously, all that being said, I do think Tokyo is an amazing place in so many ways. I point out the bad because I think its important to be honest and realistic. But that doesnt mean I appreciate the city and my time here any less. I wouldnt trade my past 12 months here for the world. I plan on writing about why I love Tokyo next. =)

      PS. Youre right! Tokyo has NO potholes which is AMAZING to me cause they are EVERYWHERE in NY and Philly. That’ll definitely go on my list.

  3. sinjin

    Cool article Eva.

  4. rapist consumer

    If one is “never ALONE” in Tokyo then why, pray tell, is Tokyo the loneliest city in the world?

    • I had a boyfriend who used to tell me he always felt loneliest at chaotic parties, surrounded by strangers. A bit dramatic, perhaps. But still, it gets the point across. People are loneliest when in a crowd. When the world around you seems to move along without you, its easy to feel as if you’re standing alone.

  5. Aaron Stella

    Not to be pretentious (well now I’m setting myself up), but I assume that the above comment contending Eva’s claim about the pervasive feeling in loneliness in Japan was a joke. Without getting to much into it, I think this question in return might answer “rapist consumer’s” question: how is it that you can be completely alone with no one else around and feel loved and warm, and then be in the middle of a club, and feel like the loneliest person in the world? Seems pretty naturally to feel that way to me. And just for the sake of concurrence with Eva, one of the dominant interpersonal struggles afflicting characters in many animes, Japanese films and theatrical productions is loneliness. My obsession for the aforesaid stands as my support for this claim. Feeling alone, and, conversely, finding the strength in yourself to love yourself despite the fact that you feel no one else does, is the Japanese equivalent to the American culture’s popular virtue of, say, non-conformity and standing up for oneself, or, I don’t know, rooting for the underdog; however, like loneliness in Japan, American still suffer pervasive issues all it’s own.

    I’ll have to return and comment more when I’m not so tired. 4:15 am here in Philly now.

  6. Lane Meyer

    What’s up Eva. I left Tokyo a few months ago but reading this really reminded me of complaints I’d had there, as well as things I’d missed. Cool blog, it reminds me of stuff people’d talk about over coffee that I can’t talk about over coffee because I’m in Colorado. Just wanted to say keep writing, it’s entertaining and healthy for everyone!

    • Hey Lane! Wow. Back in the states, huh? I cant begin to imagine what that must be like. I guess Ill have to blog about it when the time comes. hah. Anyway, thanks for reading. There are many more Tokyo related posts on the way.

  7. Pingback: Strangelove. How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Japan « The Things You Said

  8. Pingback: Why do so many people believe Tokyo is the best city in the world? - Quora

  9. Anonymous

    I agree with the majority of this article. I also ‘love’ a lot about this city. However, the conformity and constant strive for materialism is on a whole new level to anywhere else I have ventured.

  10. Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It really useful & it helped me
    out much. I hope to give something back and aid others like you helped me.

  11. Anonymous

    I dislike Tokyo as well. I have been here for two years. I live in Shibuya. It is no New York or London. I will take the crime, people diversity, and spontaneity of New York and London any day over this. I can almost put up with women here, but Jesus the men, on average, are unbearable. Even worse are the expatriate apologists that remain.

    • Anonymous

      Funny how you say only the women are bearable when the Japanese women and men are the same, no difference, they both don’t express their feelings and keep apologizing and both act like robots. The women also try to put on a “kawaii” act all the time and talk in high pitched anime voices, and after being around that for awhile it can really get on your nerves.

  12. ur a racist piece of shit

  13. Gavin Robinson

    I can relate so much of your essay to the USA. Conformity, hard work,. lack of sense humor, an undercurrent of anger, and everything in black and white and no shades in between.

  14. Yeah you hate the sun doubly beginning with really yourself. To hell with partying with the ghetto kids and trailer park trash! You dumps are boring! Asians aren’t the same and don’t party the same get it anus-faced cockbrain? Those Chinese-German disacknowleged Japanese are exceptionally staid and obedient for forced actors, but learn to classify them from the others as bravely and literately as you would beg to threaten others (maybe mostly the Nazis and your ex-boyfriends who dumped you in unrealisable love stories) as a defence mechanic assuming english isn’t your third language sunblock.

    You best watch yourself before you suffer, scream and die with your eyes open by your own enemies that may even include the state for each and every one of your misdeeds, and then dragged by my underworld heroes Ox Head and Horse Face for more burning, piercing, chopping and slicing pain in hell where you belong!!!!

    So saying, America is hopeless and worthless, and needs more regulation and balance and I’m glad People’s Choice gay half-black Obama is pushing for it. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), despite lots of you rotting ingrates yelping, is for the good of everyone and will be the global standard after that imperialist dung collapses and finishes.

    Maybe by then its as-useless slaves in the East and elsewhere would be free but of course, also destroyed.

    This calls for a celebration!

  15. I have to say, your article was very refreshing. Everyone around me loves Tokyo and I was starting to think am I the only one that doesn’t until I came across your blog. Are you still in Tokyo?

  16. Usman Makhdoom

    This is nothing but white privilege and American exceptionalism whining.

    Calling Japanese effeminate? Saying they wear bras and high heels? These are lies. And they are lies borne of your latent white supremacism. Nothing else.

    White people are truly arrogant. You people transitioned from outright hatred and racism to this sort of latent anti Japanese racist filth, making up lies about Japanese people just because your white privilege can. It’s how you people normalize Donald Trumps violent bigotry and that’s all good.

    American and white arrogance are truly dangerous and hateful and vicious. Thanks for remknding me never to.trust whites.

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