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What’s It Like Living in West Tokyo?

Do you want to move to Japan? Discover West Tokyo: vibrant neighborhoods, modern and trendy shops and plenty of serene green spaces.

By 7 min read

Living in East Tokyo or West Tokyo is a hard choice. East Tokyo tends to be more traditional, with historic neighborhoods like Asakusa and traditional cultural attractions. However, West Tokyo is more modern and cosmopolitan, boasting trendy districts like Shibuya and Shinjuku. These districts are often considered more upscale, with classy fashion, dining and entertainment options. Consider the green spaces of Yoyogi Park and Shinjuku Gyoen or trendy pockets in Omotesando, Shimokitazawa and Daikanyama.

Plenty of real estate is available on GaijinPot Apartments to explore, and convenient train lines will cross you throughout the city. So, if you’re seeking a balance between the capital’s premier sightseeing spots and more relaxed residential corners, check out West Tokyo!

Or, if you’d rather search by train lines, check out our series for The Best Train Lines for Living in Tokyo.

Welcome to West Tokyo

Photo:
The skyline from Shibuya Sky observatory.

West Tokyo has six wards: Shibuya, Shinjuku, Nakano, Nerima, Setagaya and Suginami. While these areas have roots reaching far back into the days of Edo, the old name of Tokyo, their vibes today are products of the last 100 years.

Shinjuku, Shibuya and Nakano have long histories of consumerism and entertainment. From the first department stores to the heart of youth and popular culture, these wards have you covered.

Head west, and you’ll find quieter spaces in Nerima, Setagaya and Suginami. Their populations have risen partly due to Tokyoites leaving the urban core over the last century. With the extension of Tokyo’s public transportation network westward, these three wards have become particularly commuter and family-friendly.

West Tokyo is more expensive than East Tokyo. Average incomes are higher than on the east side but lower than in the central wards. Rents may seem reasonable for single dwellers, but they get high quickly when considering two bedrooms or more. But, with convenient access to the city’s hot spots for work and leisure, West Tokyo has its charms and cozier spaces amongst Tokyo’s hustle and bustle.

Shibuya

Photo:
Shibuya’s Omotesando is lined with expensive shops and cafes.

Home to the famous Shibuya Scramble and a vibrant youth culture, the Shibuya ward has long been one of the top destinations for tourists in Tokyo. For residents, the ward has a mix of atmospheres. For example, in the neighborhood of Yoyogi, you’ll find a comparatively calm, high-end area that boasts trendy cafes and Yoyogi Park. Meanwhile, the Hiroo area is the place for international schools, English-language services and wealthy expat families settling amongst the many international embassies.

Average Rent

  • 1K, 1DK: ¥99,300
  • 2LDK, 3K, 3DK: ¥453,200
10 minutes on foot to the nearest station.

Popular Trains Lines

  • JR Yamanote Line
  • Tokyo Metro Ginza Line
  • Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line
  • Tokyu Toyoko Line
  • Keio Inokashira Line

Local Attractions

  • Meiji Jingu Shrine: Large and beautiful shrine with ample green space dedicated to the Meiji Emperor
  • Shibuya Scramble Crossing: The World’s busiest pedestrian crossing and a symbol of Tokyo
  • Omotesando: Luxury shopping district with a tree-lined central boulevard
  • Yoyogi Park: Spacious park with lots of picnic space and forests, charming in the Fall
  • Takeshita Dori: Central street of Harajuku, the pinnacle of Tokyo youth fashion subculture

Shinjuku

Photo:
Shinjuku can be the best place to live or a nightmare for commute.

The bright lights of Shinjuku’s skyline often represent Tokyo in popular culture. From the nightlife of Kabukicho and Roppongi to cultural hotspots like Shin-Okubo’s Koreatown, Shinjuku has lots to keep you busy. The ward has seven stations that bear its name, so finding a mode of public transportation shouldn’t be too difficult. But, straddling Shinjuku and Shibuya wards, JR Shinjuku station is also the busiest in the world, making many commutes hectic.

Average Rent

  • 1K, 1DK: ¥94,800
  • 2LDK, 3K, 3DK: ¥215,100
10 minutes on foot to the nearest station.

Best Train Lines

  • JR Yamanote Line
  • JR Chuo Line
  • JR Sobu Line
  • Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line
  • Tokyo Metro Toei Shinjuku Line
  • Tokyo Metro Toei Oedo Line
  • Keio Line (Fukutoshin Line)

Local Attractions

  • Shinjuku Gyoen: A large, attractive park featuring French and English formal and Japanese gardens.
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings: Offices offering two impressive observatories with sweeping city views.
  • Shinjuku Golden Gai: Comprising back alleyways with small independent bars exuding a retro ambiance.
  • Kabukicho: Famously known as Tokyo’s red light district.
  • Kagurazaka: A classy neighborhood often called Tokyo’s “Little Paris.”

Nakano

Photo:
Nakano also happens to be the most densely populated city in Japan.

Tokyo’s Nakano ward is one of Japan’s most densely populated areas. It has long been known as a suburban bed town for central Tokyo (as well as nearby Shinjuku and Shibuya). The ward’s convenience is hard to beat, with 12 stations connecting to the rest of Tokyo. Nakano is especially popular with families for its easily accessible supermarkets, ample medical facilities and greenery.

Average Rent

  • 1K, 1DK: ¥81,100
  • 2LDK, 3K, 3DK: ¥197,300
10 minutes on foot to the nearest station.

Best Train Lines

  • JR Chuo Line
  • Tokyo Metro Tozai Line
  • Seibu Shinjuku Line
  • Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line
  • Toei Oedo Line

Local Attractions

  • Nakano Broadway: A famous shopping mall with many floors dedicated to anime and manga goods.
  • Tetsugakudo Park: A unique park dedicated to philosophy, featuring historical buildings and beautiful greenery.
  • Nakano Central Park: Nakano’s central square boasts restaurants, cafes, and businesses.
  • Araiyakushi Baishoin Temple: A Buddhist temple renowned for its impressive statues, pagoda and seasonal flowers.
  • Nakano Hikawa Shrine: A small and peaceful shrine with over 500 years of history.

Nerima

Nerima ‘s beautiful Shakujii Park.

Located in Tokyo’s northwestern corner, Nerima is a relatively quiet residential area not far from the popular attractions of West Tokyo. The ward is an attractive choice for families looking to settle down close to places of work in western and central Tokyo. Nerima is also the most affordable western special wards, with green spaces, supermarkets, many Japanese and non-Japanese restaurants, and an easy commute to JR Ikebukuro station.

Average Rent

  • 1K, 1DK: ¥69,600
  • 2LDK, 3K, 3DK: ¥124,900
10 minutes on foot to the nearest station.

Best Train Lines

  • Seibu Ikebukuro Line
  • Seibu Shinjuku Line
  • Toei Oedo Line
  • Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line
  • Toei Mita Line

Local Attractions

  • Shakujii Park: One of the largest parks in Tokyo, this green oasis is a protected wilderness area boasting two lovely ponds.
  • The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Newly opened making-of-Harry Potter tour.
  • Chihiro Art Museum: A beautiful art museum commemorating children’s book author Iwasaki Chihiro.
  • Toei Animation Museum: A small museum dedicated to famous Toei Animation works, such as Sailor Moon.
  • Hikarigaoka Park: A huge park featuring sports fields and a bird sanctuary.

Setagaya

Photo:
Shimokitazawa in Setagaya is a thrifter’s paradise.

The town of Setagaya is Tokyo’s second-most populated ward and perhaps its most residential. It has long been known for its ample green spaces within the metropolis and its wealthy residential areas. Setagaya is also home to several trendy neighborhoods, like Shimokitazawa, with great eateries and cafes that have become a draw for young people. With seven train lines running through the area, access to the rest of Tokyo is also a breeze.

Average Rent

  • 1K, 1DK: ¥79,300
  • 2LDK, 3K, 3DK: ¥199,500
10 minutes on foot to the nearest station.

Best Train Lines

  • Tokyu Setagaya Line
  • Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line
  • Keio Line
  • Odakyu Odawara Line
  • Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line
  • Tokyu Oimachi Line

Local Attractions

  • Shimokitazawa: A trendy urban area renowned for its excellent coffee shops and bars.
  • Sangenjaya: A fashionable district featuring hip cafes and a tower offering views of Mount Fuji.
  • Todoroki Ravine: A tranquil walking trail along the small Yazawa River, boasting a stunning bamboo forest and ancient temple.
  • Gotokuji Temple: A Buddhist temple famous as one of the birthplaces of maneki neko (welcoming or beckoning cats).
  • Setagaya Park: A large urban park adorned with lovely seasonal flowers and fantastic options for children, such as a mini steam train.

Suginami

Photo:
An alley in Asagaya, Suginami.

Another one of the more affordable wards, Suginami, lies between Nerima and Setagaya along the 23 wards’ westernmost border. Like its neighbor Nerima, Suginami has cheaper rents than more central wards in West Tokyo while maintaining easy access to the capital’s core. For example, hop on one of several train or metro lines to make it to Tokyo station within 30-40 minutes. Many students also live in Suginami because of its low rent and access to several universities.

Average Rent

  • 1K, 1DK: ¥77,600
  • 2LDK, 3K, 3DK: ¥176,600
10 minutes on foot to the nearest station.

Best Train Lines

  • JR Chuo Main Line
  • Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line
  • Seibu Haijima Line
  • Seibu Tamagawa Line
  • Keio Inokashira Line
  • Keio Shinjuku Line
  • Tokyo Metro Namboku Line

Local Attractions

  • Suginami Animation Museum: An interactive museum offering insights into anime’s history and future directions.
  • Asagaya Shinmeigu Shrine: An expansive shrine complex renowned for its stunning cherry blossoms.
  • Asagaya Pearl Center Shopping District: A local shopping arcade with unique souvenirs and snacks.
  • Koenji Pal Shopping Street: A local covered shopping arcade featuring vintage shops.
  • Omiya Hachimangu Shrine: Tokyo’s third-largest shrine, founded in 1063, with an enshrined deity for protecting children.

Have you lived in West Tokyo? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

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