Zooming in towards the heart of Tokyo, one realizes that there is no real center to focus on, but rather that there are a multitude of centers in the city’s 23 districts: Shinjuku, Shibuya, Meguro, Minato and Chiyoda, to name just a few of the better known. While many parts of the city have high-rises and skyscrapers, the actual cityscape of Tokyo is quite different from the futuristic image one might have in mind. In large part, the city is quite low and thus far stretched out with the odd assemblage of higher buildings poking out here and there. The highest towers are situated in the commercial centers of Minato (Tokyo’s Midtown), Shinjuku and Chiyoda. Since building regulations changed and height limitations crumbled, new developments have been changing the city’s skyline in recent years. In 2012 Japan’s highest structure and the world’s highest tower, the Tokyo Skytree, was completed.
Tokyo proper is home to around 12.9 million people, striking when compared to Berlin’s 3.5 and London’s 8.2 million inhabitants. The Japanese capital spreads over a space of 2,188 square kilometers, more than double the size of Berlin and a bit less than 1.5 times the size of London. In looking at the difference between it’s daytime and nighttime population one can get an idea of how busy this city really is: 2.5 million people enter and leave the city every day. With a workforce of 5.9 million people—and assuming that most of them do not work from home—, almost six million people commute every day. One key method of transportation is the closely integrated combination of the Tokyo Metro and the Toei metro system. With roughly 8.5 million daily passengers, the city operates the busiest subway system in the world (followed by Seoul, Beijing and Moscow).
As is readily apparent in these towering figures, Tokyo is a widespread metropolis with numerous districts and smaller centers. Millions of people move through the city on a daily basis. To and from work, but also in their free time. They play sports; they go shopping; they meet friends. Just as in any other city. During our recent stay in Tokyo—for the smart forjeremy launch—we went to explore and discuss with some choice people their thoughts about living, working, relaxing and navigating in and through Tokyo.
In the second part of our Tokyo feature we will meet Mai Nguyen with her baby daughter Zooey. She will spend a Sunday afternoon with us, showing us her favorite spots and helping us navigate Tokyo.