Starting a brand new life in a different country is never easy. Even if you’ve visited many times and can speak the language fluently, there are so many things you can learn from totally immersing yourself in a different culture and surroundings than the one you grew up in. This is exactly what happened for me about 5 years ago. I chose to move myself out of the comfortable bubble in southern California, and placed myself in this busy, crazy metropolitan city called Tokyo. And let me tell you – I ended up learning tremendously about Japan, about cultural differences, and also about myself. Read on for more about the 5 things I learned after 5 years living in Tokyo.

生まれ育った場所とはまったく違うところで新しい人生をスタートするのは本当に難しいことです。観光客として何度も足を運んだことのある国で、そこの言語を流暢に話せても、住むことによって学べることが沢山あります。私も5年前にカリフォルニアの居心地の良いバブルから抜け出し、正反対の東京という大都市に移り住んだことは、今でも後悔していません。日本の文化のことをより深く知ることができた上、自分自身のことももっと知ることができました。今回は、東京に5年間住んでいて学んだ5つのことを紹介します。

5 Things I’ve Learned After 5 Years in Tokyo

  1. Tokyo is one of the most convenient cities to live in. 東京は本当に便利な街。Gone are the days I used to drive my beloved Honda Fit in SoCal, because Tokyo has the best public transportation out of all the cities I’ve visited and everything is so closely-knit. You have the option of walking, taking the train or bus, or grabbing a taxi (the starting rate for cabs now is 410 yen!). There are vending machines and convenience stores on every corner, most of them open 24/7. Tokyo is literally the city that never sleeps.
  2. Tokyo is becoming more tourist-friendly as it’s gearing up towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 2020年の東京オリンピックに向けて、観光客が分かりやすいような街作りを行っている。Japan is not exactly an English-speaking country; they are, however, doing a pretty good job developing many parts of Tokyo. Train stations continue to replace signs into those with English and Japanese, and more information kiosks are popping up all around the city. I think in a few more years, Tokyo will be even easier to navigate for tourists visiting from other countries. And on that note, I actually get to meet so many people from around the world which is fantastic.
  3. Yet, the word “gaijin (foreigner) is thrown around more often than I thought. でも、「外人」という単語が思っていた以上に頻繁に使われている。The term “gaijin” is a somewhat derogatory word, and I recently saw a video on Buzzfeed Japan interviewing said foreigners on the street about what they think of the word being used. Honestly, it can go both ways, but there are people out there who find it offensive to be referred as a “gaijin.” Apparently it applies to me too, whether it’s with a good or bad connotation.
  4. THE FOOD IS AMAZING. 東京の食文化は最高級!Anywhere you go, you are guaranteed to have delicious, quality food even at the tiniest corner eatery. There are so many types of Japanese cuisine and restaurants other than just sushi and noodles. Like, a lot. Check out this post for reference.
  5. Tokyo provides an endless amount of fashion inspiration. 東京のファッションは、世界中の人を魅了し続けている。Growing up, I was always a huge fan of the colorful Japanese fashion magazines. Lucky for me, I now get to see all different genres of fashion up close whether I’m in the streets of Harajuku, or I’m at one of the parties full of fashion influencers. Tokyo is one of the best cities to be exposed to all kinds of fashion, and the past 5 years have truly been a kind of experiment, and I will continue to try different looks to see what works best for me.

What are some things you’d like to learn more about Japan? I plan to create more content that helps familiarize people with Tokyo and the rest of Japan, so stay tuned!

If you haven’t already, check out my New Year’s post here 🙂

Bershka jacket, Idolum hoodie, Adidas Originals leggings, Fenty x Puma sneakers (white via Farfetch), American Needle cap, zeroUV glasses

All photos by Fu Sheng Wang

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25 comments

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I love that you decided to move to Tokyo because I bet it was a great decision and based on this post, a valuable one as well! I’ve always wanted to go to Japan and hope to do so this year. I’ve heard that the food is amazing no matter what you eat so I’ll definitely be coming to you for suggestions!

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How amazing. I’ve always admired people who pack up and move to a foreign place. I’ve always wanted to do this myself. I still do and definitely see it in my future (and hopefully in the next 5 years!) I’m dying to see Tokyo. Everyone only ever had nice things to say about japan period. A friend of mine was just there a few weeks ago and ADORED it. She went to a few other cities and towns and is eager to go back again this year. When I think of Tokyo I definitely think of color and neons. It seems like such a vibrant city and your photos and words always exude this. I’d love to hear more about Tokyo from you. Maybe places to eat. Sites to see. Streets to walk down. The kind of things most tourists don’t know about!

Sxx
http://www.daringcoco.com

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I’m glad your friend enjoyed her stay here! Thanks for answering my question, I will definitely keep these in mind for future posts!

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Thank you for sharing your insights about Japan and its culture. I really learned many important things about it by reading your blog post. I’m very interested in reading and learning more. Please keep sharing with us! You look amazing and stylish as always!

xx. Gina

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That’s so interesting to know – I absolutely love everything about Japan but of course it’s never the same as living there. Food would be my absolute favourite I think!

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I have yet to visit Tokyo thought it has been on my travel bucket list for ever!! I would go solely for the amazing food but there are so many things Tokyo has to offer such as fashion inspo, culture, amazing architecture and everything in between. I can’t wait to see what Olympics 2020 would bring.

xo Sheree
Posh Classy Mom

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素敵な発想ですね、もし付け加えるとすれば、国際空港と公衆トイレは世界一清潔、日本人の主婦は日本料理のほかに、中華、イタリアン、フレンチとどんな料理も作れる人が多い、があります。
 昔は、外人と外国人と区別して使っていました。外人という言葉に親しみを込め、外国人という言葉になにか差別的なニァンスがあったのですが、いまはどちらの言葉にも区別がなくなりつつあります。

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本当はもっと書きたかったんですけど、きりがないのでざっくり5つにまとめました笑
そうですよね。。多分人それぞれの捉え方なんでしょうね!

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I would Love to visit Tokyo one day. I can definitely see that the Fashion is out of this world. I’m sure you get tons of inspiration all the time!

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I love the vending machine culture in Japan. It’s highly recognized and you can literally find anything. Anything! I also love that they have the best public transportation. Didn’t the bullet train originate in Japan? Do they have a night market for cheap clothes and accessories? I know Korea does but I’m sure Japan would too!

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Yes, the bullet train is from Japan! I don’t know of night markets but there are lots of cool, unique vintage stores in many parts of the city!

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Samantha thanks for sharing. I am taking a class at USC this semester and get to visit Tokyo in May with my class. I am very excited.
Tokoyi sounds amazing.

Xxgracie

snapeddbygracie.com

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Awesome! I know you’ll enjoy your stay here 🙂

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Omg reading this somehow is making me crave a good bowl of ramen LOL. I can only imagine how good the food is in Tokyo as I’ve never been there myself. I hope to visit very soon though. There’s absolutely no good ramen or sushi places in the desert where I live! 🙁 love your outfit too btw !! xo, sharon

http://www.stylelullaby.com/fashion/nothing-but-good-times/

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Ahh, I miss Japan. I didn’t realize how often Gaijn was used until I lived there either lol. You can’t beat the efficiency of living in Tokyo. I miss having ramen and sushi there. Honestly, so good. I hope you had a great holiday Samantha. Wishing you the best year ahead of you yet!

Xo,
Miki
http://mikialamode.com

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Tokyo is definitely on my bucket list of places to visit! It looks like such a cool and vibrant city. I’ve always been attracted to the unique fashion as well. I would especially love to shop the vintage there which I’ve heard is top notch!

xo, Jo

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I loved reading this! I have never been, but I definitely want to. Especially for the food! I bet it is sooo good.

http://www.meghanlaurie.com

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You’re making me want to visit to Tokyo right now! I have always wanted to go to Tokyo, the neon lights and vibrant fashion has always made me keen about the place!
Hope you’re having a lovely weekend! 🙂
xx
Ankita
http://realgirltalks.com/

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Haha I’m glad I’m getting you interested in Tokyo!! That was my goal 🙂

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Great post. I’m really interested to know more about Tokyo and whtar is best to do or didn’t do 😉
I’m organizing to compete at the 19 th Fina world swimming Master Championships at Tokyo I’m 2020.
Yes I would like to go so much .
Xx
Eva
http://www.themermaidfashion.com

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That’s awesome! I hope you’ll be competing in the championships. Best of luck to you!

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Oh my goodness I adore Toyko! I’m planning a trip back, and it’s good to know it’s becoming more tourist friendly. I work as a Social Media Manager for Koala who operate in Japan, and every time I book Japanese influencers I get so excited as there’s a more bubbly personality I think from there which seems more heartfelt than some I’ve seen here in Australia.

https://www.bunnybernice.com/single-post/2018/01/15/My-Oleg-Cassini-Wedding-Dress-Experience

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That’s so awesome!! I really hope you visit Japan soon 🙂

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Had fun reading what you have learned while staying 5 years in Tokyo! Truly a great experience!

xx shaine
https://itsshaineivory.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/sport/

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I love these kinds of posts!
I totally agree with your mention about Tokyo as one of the most convenient cities to live in. Tokyo is so well connected I can’t go back to my home country’s sub-par transportation system lol
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your life so far in Tokyo Samantha 🙂

Xx
Siree
http://www.thehiddenthimble.com

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