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Through The Eyes Of A Local: Tokyo, Japan

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I am BEYOND excited for this week’s locals interview, as it features one of the places that is highest on my travel wishlist: Tokyo in Japan! I think it hardly needs any introduction really, so lets just get right into it…

1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and where you come from?

Hi! I’m Delilah and I’m a Tokyo-based content creation specialist, as well as the writer behind the luxury expat blog: www.fleurdelilah.com.

I live in Shinjuku, one of Tokyo’s biggest nightlife and entertainment districts, with my husband. Originally from New York, I moved to Japan for university and have lived here ever since. I’ve spent my whole adult life in Tokyo, and 2018 is my 7-year anniversary living here! On my blog, I share luxury travel and dining experiences and offer insight and advice on expat life.

2. What do you love most about Tokyo?

I love living in Tokyo for so many reasons, but a lot of it boils down to people thinking about others. Japan is a collectivist culture, contrary to the individualist culture seen in many Western countries. While this isn’t always a great thing, it teaches people to be respectful and mindful of how their actions affect others. The benefits of this mindset are far-reaching, and visitors can experience it in the hospitality, the cleanliness, and the safety of Tokyo. I also love the high-tech toilets.

Tokyo Performance

3. Is there anything that frustrates or annoys you when tourists visit Japan?

With the upcoming World Rugby Cup and the Olympics, tourism in Tokyo has skyrocketed these past few years. And this is great for businesses, the economy, and the overall globalization of Japan. But I’m annoyed by tourists who show no consideration for Japanese culture: the Japanese people are polite to others, aren’t too loud in public (except when they’re drunk), and make an effort to speak other languages (especially when they’re drunk!).

4. In your opinion, which places should be at the top of any visitor’s wishlist in Tokyo?

Tokyo has plenty of places to check out. You can visit the city over and over and still have plenty of new things to discover. Regardless of when you visit and how long you’ll be in Tokyo, I recommend first-time visitors at least see:

  • Sensoji Temple: It’s a vermillion red Buddhist temple in the middle of Tokyo that is over 1,000 years old.
  • Hama Rikyu Garden: A traditional Japanese garden, where you can enjoy some of the best cherry blossoms and fall colors.
  • Tokyo Midtown: This upscale lifestyle complex right by Roppongi Station has shops, restaurants, a garden, and museums.
  • Shibuya: It’s one of Tokyo’s major fashion districts and where you will find the infamous Shibuya Crossing.
  • Akihabara: A few stops from Tokyo Station, this neighborhood is home to otaku (anime) culture and electronics.

5. What foods must visitors eat when in Tokyo?

Tokyo is a haven for foodies! When in Tokyo, you need to have authentic Japanese food. Some of the staple foods to try are:

  • Sushi: Try to get a seat at the counter for a truly unique show.
  • Ramen: Be aware that once you have ramen here, Top Ramen and Cup Noodle will taste like cardboard.
  • Tempura: Because when is fried food not delicious?
  • Kaiseki: This traditional Japanese meal is for those who have truly accepted Japan in their hearts.

Sushi, Tokyo

6. What’s your favourite Japanese word? Why? What does it mean?

甘いものは別腹  (pronounced: amai mono wa betsu bara). It means “There’s always room for dessert!”

7. What advice would you give to somebody moving to Tokyo?

Understand how different the culture and lifestyle is in Japan. Visiting Tokyo is completely different than expat life here, so be prepared to face some challenges even if you’ve visited in the past. Know that no country is perfect. You will prefer some aspects of life in Tokyo more than life in your home country and some aspects you may like less. That’s fine — just figure out what’s right for you and your situation. My partner and I just love it!

8. If you could describe your hometown in just one sentence, what would you say?

Tokyo is a maze of the richest cultural and culinary experiences in the world — bring a GPS!

9. If tourists were to know one thing about the Japanese culture, what should that be?

Japan’s culture is very complex and it takes years of living here to understand it. You won’t even scratch the surface of it if you don’t speak the language a bit.

10. Do you have any interesting traditions that you’d like to tell us about?

There’s a saying that in Japan you are born Shinto, married Christian, and die Buddhist. This refers to the fact that births are celebrated with a Shinto ceremony, marriages are typically in a Christian-style wedding, and burials follow Buddhist practices.
Also, the Japanese can actually be pretty superstitious; the fourth floor is sometimes skipped because it can be read as “shi,” which can mean “death”. And many avoid throwing 10-yen coins when praying at shrines because 10 yen can be pronounced as “to-en” meaning “good fate will go away”.
Thanks Delilah – we’ve loved getting to know you and Tokyo better!
And if you loved this interview, don’t forget to share it around!
Through The Eyes Of A Local: Tokyo
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Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

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