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Trent Baumbach

Adapting to Life in Tokyo

by Trent Baumbach Thursday, April 16, 2015

If you’ve ever wondered what sensory overload is like, all you have to do is take a trip to Tokyo. As a born and raised Wisconsinite unfamiliar with this sensation, adjusting to the way of life in Tokyo has been both exciting and overwhelming. Here are a few examples of what to expect.

1. People Everywhere

With a population about the same as California packed into an area the size of Rhode Island, calling Tokyo “densely populated” is an understatement. In the ten days I’ve been here I am yet to turn onto a street or alley without seeing at least ten people. Thinking of ways to escape the crowd? Back home I would recommend visiting a park or restaurant, but in Tokyo those are packed too.

Shibuya Crossing

2. Hours Spent Commuting

The Tokyo metro, subway, and rail system is without a doubt the biggest and most complex in the world. It looks intimidating on paper, but is extremely convenient and efficient once you get the hang of it. Personally I live almost an hour and a half from campus in Yokohama, meaning I’ve had a good amount of time to get used to it.

The Tokyo railway system map.

Oh, and here are more people:


3. Being Pointed out for Being Foreign

As a tall, blonde, Caucasian, I’m pretty noticeable no matter where I am in Tokyo. I often notice people pointing, whispering, or even taking pictures out of surprise at seeing a foreigner. Although these situations can be awkward at times, it seems that most Japanese people don’t necessarily look down on foreigners, but rather appreciate them showing interest in their language and culture.

It will definitely take more time to feel integrated into the Japanese lifestyle, but every day so far has been a unique, incredible experience.

Photo of me in front of Japanese cherry blossoms.