Each day, Tokyo wages within itself a battle between east and west, and between tradition and modernity. This identity crisis, these growing pains, are a large part of what makes this city so appealing to the spectrum of people who call it home. Tokyo lives up to its reputation as a 24 hour city that only takes a break three times a year – around New Year, Golden Week and Obon – before it resumes its frenzied ebb and flow.

The city is home to most of Japan’s biggest companies and foreign business people often serve short stints here. English teaching is big business and many westerners are employed as language instructors.

Tokyo is said to be expensive, but the city has plenty of places to visit eat and shop on the cheap. There are loads of free sights, including shrines, temples and museums, as well as the observatory from the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Tochō) in Shinjuku. When shopping, keep a lookout for ¥100 stores, which sell products (and even groceries) for a fraction of what you’d pay in regular shops. Inexpensive restaurants and budget business and capsule hotels abound. Even in the ritziest districts, like Ginza and Omotesandō, you’ll find bars where beer rings in at around the same as you’d pay in a convenience store. One thing is for sure though, living in Tokyo means you’ll never have to pay for tissues again, as they are handed out on street corners throughout the city. But like the saying goes, ‘life is what you make it’, and life in Tokyo can be just as cosmopolitan and fast-paced, or as calm and relaxing, as you would like it to be.

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