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May 23, 2017
Tokyo Metropolitan Government

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Publishes its Lifestyle Handbook for New Foreign Residents: Life in Tokyo: Your Guide

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has published Life in Tokyo: Your Guide, a compact and easy‒to‒understand 61‒page handbook full of useful information for foreign residents living in Tokyo.
Tokyo is home to around 480,000 non‒Japanese nationals – around 3.6% of the city's population as of January 2017. For foreign residents including businesspeople and students beginning their lives in Tokyo, easily accessible information on topics such as Japanese institutions, customs, lifestyle, and how to act during disasters and emergencies is essential for their safety and peace of mind.
With the number of foreign residents set to rise in the lead‒up to the Summer 2020 Olympics, the publication of this handbook is even more timely.

1. Overview

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has produced this handbook based on feedback from foreign businesspeople and students from Asia, North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa who are new to Tokyo. The feedback highlighted some of the challenges they faced when settling in, such as differences in customs compared with their home countries. The handbook has been put together in an easy to understand way, and it was created in keeping with the Tokyo Intercultural Promotion Guideline, issued in February 2016.

(1) Languages

English, Japanese

*Chinese (simplified) and Korean versions will be available soon.

(2) Contents

Life in Tokyo: Your Guide includes information on everything from immigration to everyday life, with helpful insights from the point of view of foreign residents.

  • Key sections:
    • Housing – Finding housing, expenses for contracts and deposits, and understanding key money and deposits
    • Health – The medical insurance system, and visiting the doctor
    • Disasters and Emergencies – Earthquake and fire preparedness, and disaster safety
    • Finance – Requirements for opening bank accounts
    • Everyday Life – Japanese lessons and other lifestyle information
  • Box
    Useful information based on interviews with foreign residents, such as how to use a Suica or PASMO card, and how to procure a hanko (personal seal).
  • Advice
    From foreign residents about various rules and practices based on everyday experiences, such as how parents should dress when attending school entrance ceremonies and graduations.

2. Distribution

The handbook will be available for free from May 12th at the following locations:

  • Resident registration desks of municipal offices
  • The Business Development Center Tokyo
  • The Tokyo One‒Stop Business Establishment Center
  • Local international communication associations
  • The Tokyo International Communication Committee
  • And the Tokyo Foreign Residents' Advisory Center (on the third floor of the No. 1 Building of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building)

The handbook can also be downloaded from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government home page.

Activities of the Bureau of Citizens and Cultural Affairs

This bureau assists foreign residents in line with the Tokyo Intercultural Promotion Guideline, issued in February 2016, including:

The Help Card

This business‒card‒sized guide is available in 11 languages (Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Nepali, English, Burmese, Thai, French, Spanish, and Portuguese), and is designed for individuals who are unfamiliar with the Japanese language.

  • Contents:
    Contacts for Emergencies and Disasters (police, fire department); Himawari Tokyo Metropolitan Medical Institution Information; a point and speak phrase book for various situations; information on the Foreign Residents Advisory Center; also includes a section for the card holder’s information (name, nationality, blood type, etc.)
  • Available Locations:
    The Tokyo Foreign Residents’ Advisory Center (on the third floor of the No. 1 Building of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building); sections of regional municipal governments in charge of multicultural affairs.

The Life in Tokyo Portal for Foreign Residents

This portal provides access to integrated information by region and category, offered by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, as well as regional municipalities, local international communication associations, and other organizations supporting foreign residents.


Community Activity Promotion Section
Bureau of Citizens and Cultural Affairs