The 10 Best Neighborhoods in Tokyo

The Tokyo Metropolitan Area and its surrounding countryside offer an incredible variety of places to live, from bustling cityscapes to serene mountain retreats.

But with so many options, choosing the right spot can feel overwhelming. This guide will help you navigate your search based on your life stage and priorities.

Finding Your Ideal Japanese Home

For University Students

Affordability and proximity to campus are key. Look for student neighborhoods with small apartments or dorms near your university. Top picks that offer student-friendly options include the following:

    • Hongo: (University of Tokyo)
    • Meguro: (Tokyo Institute of Technology)
    • Takadanobaba: (Waseda University)
    • Mita: (Keio University)

For Young Single Professionals

Craving excitement? Consider central Tokyo (Roppongi, Azabujuban, Hiroo) for nightlife and expat communities.

If affordability matters more, explore neighborhoods along the Yamanote Line (Shibuya, Ebisu, Harajuku, Meguro) or check out bohemian areas like Shimo-Kitazawa (vintage, music), Koenji (art, music), or Yanaka (traditional charm).

For Young Families with Young Children

Parks, playgrounds, good schools (local or international), and easy commutes are your top priorities.

In Tokyo, consider areas near Setagaya Park, Rinshi-no-Mori Park (Musashi-Koyama area), Komazawa Olympic Park, or Tamagawa River parks.

Yokohama’s Honmoku Sancho Park area (near the Yokohama Country & Athletic Club) is another option.

For Couples with Middle/High-School Age Children

Unless you plan to send your children to a local Japanese school, it is highly likely that you will choose to send them to an international school. Picking a location that is either near a convenient train station or located within walking distance of a school bus stop is important.

Most of the main international schools have their own dedicated network of school bus routes. It would, therefore, be ideal to obtain a list and/or map of each route in advance of any real estate search. The key is to make your children’s commute as safe, easy, and short as possible.

For Empty Nesters with Office-Based Jobs

Shorter commutes become a priority. Consider downsizing and moving to a more central location near your office.

In Tokyo, this could mean relocating from suburbs (Nakanobu) to a central 2LDK apartment on a high floor that is within walking distance of Toranomon Hills or the Tokyo American Club, for example.

For Retirees & People with Remote Jobs

Embrace the freedom of choice! Look for places with easy access to Tokyo (via airport, train station, or expressway) if you desire occasional city access.

Explore resort-style living near Tokyo (Hakone, Karuizawa, Atami/Izu Peninsula, Chiba), or venture further (Hokkaido, Okinawa, Kyoto, Kyushu).

The 10 Best Neighborhoods in Tokyo for Expats

While it is likely that you will have an enjoyable experience no matter where you choose to live in Tokyo, there are certain neighborhoods that tend to attract more foreign residents.

Central Tokyo is divided into 23 wards or bureaus. Within each ward, there are certain neighborhoods in and around major train stations that may be of particular interest.

Here are the ten best neighborhoods in Tokyo for expats.

1. Shibuya-ku (渋谷区)

While this major hub is famous for its Scramble Crossing intersection and shopping scene, there are several surprisingly quiet neighborhoods within walking distance of the main train station.

    • Shibuya Station (渋谷駅): The iconic intersection of Shibuya and the center of youth culture. Offers a vibrant nightlife scene, trendy shops and international restaurants. The upscale neighborhood of Shoto is a short walk from Shibuya Station. A little further west, there is also plenty of desirable housing near the Komaba campus of the University of Tokyo. Most international schools, such as the American School in Japan (ASIJ), have a bus stop near the station.
    • Ebisu Station (恵比寿駅): More upscale area with a focus on fine dining, gastropubs, and stylish cafes.
    • Daikanyama Station (代官山駅): Known for its high-end boutiques, art galleries, and a more relaxed atmosphere than central Shibuya.

2. Minato-ku (港区)

The neighborhoods of Minato-ku have long attracted expatriates and remain some of the most desirable areas in Tokyo, with easy access to everything.

Rents tend to be high, but there is also a relatively large inventory of larger rental apartments originally designed for international residents.

Most international schools, such as the American School in Japan (ASIJ), have a number of bus stops in this part of the city.

      • Azabu Juban Station (麻布十番駅): A high-end residential area with a significant international community. Offers embassies, international grocery stores, and a family-friendly environment. The British School Tokyo just opened a new campus for younger children in nearby Azabudai Hills.
      • Hiroo Station (広尾駅): Another high-end area with embassies, luxury apartments, and a focus on international cuisine.
      • Roppongi Station (六本木駅): While there are now many high-end, spacious family apartments within walking distance of Roppongi Station, the area is best known for its nightlife. Thus, while convenient for singles, it may not be the best place for families with young children. However, the Tokyo American Club (TAC) is located in the area, and most international schools, such as the American School in Japan (ASIJ), have a bus stop near the station.
      • Tamachi Station (田町駅): A business district with good access to Shinagawa Station for easy connections to other parts of Tokyo. Offers a mix of housing options and modern amenities.

3. Shinjuku Ward (新宿区)

While Shinjuku Ward has the largest number of foreign residents, most come from other parts of Aisa. There is a large Korean community in the Shin-Okubo area.

New developments around Shinjuku Station, the world’s busiest train station, have attracted foreigners from all over the world.

    • Shinjuku Station (新宿駅): One of the busiest stations in the world, with excellent transportation links and a wide range of shops, restaurants and entertainment. It would be a convenient place for a single person or couple without children to live close to work. Rents vary across the board, depending on proximity to the main station, size, amenities, etc.
    • Shinjuku Gyoenmae Station (新宿御苑前駅): Located near Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, this area offers a quieter and greener environment with easy access to downtown. Just below Shinjuku Gyoen, nearby Kita-sando is a quiet neighborhood with many reasonably priced rental apartments within walking distance of the subway.
    • Meiji Shrine Mae Station (明治神宮前駅): Home to the Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park, this area offers a charming atmosphere with upscale shops and cafes. Most international schools, such as the American School in Japan (ASIJ), have a bus stop near the station.

4. Chiyoda-ku (千代田区)

    • Iidabashi Station (飯田橋駅): If you want to be right in the thick of it and live in the center of Tokyo, the skyscrapers directly above and the surrounding neighborhoods near Iidabashi Station could be a good option. The nearby Kagurazaka offers a unique blend of traditional Japanese charm and modern French influence, making it a desirable yet potentially pricey place to live. There are authentic French cafes, bakeries, and Michelin-starred restaurants
    • Bancho (番町) and Kojimachi (麴町): While pricey, this area near the Imperial Palace offers a quieter pace of life with high-end residential areas, embassies, and historical sites.

5. Meguro-ku (目黒区)

    • Meguro Station (目黒駅): A central hub with excellent transportation links, offering a mix of residential areas, parks and family-friendly amenities. Meguro Station is a stop on the Yamanote Line and also has subway access. Its upscale Chojabaru neighborhood is within walking distance of Ebisu Garden Place, but Meguro also has numerous local shopping arcades on both sides of the station. The famous Gajoen Hotel is located at the bottom of the hill leading down to the Meguro River. Rents tend to be slightly lower than in the neighboring stations of Ebisu and Shibuya. Most international schools, such as the American School in Japan (ASIJ), have a bus stop near the station.
    • Jiyugaoka Station (自由が丘駅): A trendy area known for its stylish boutiques, cafes and “little Paris” atmosphere. Jiyugaoka and the nearby neighborhoods (some of which are in Setagaya-ku or Ota-ku) of Denenchofu, Kuhonbutsu, Oyamadai, Todoroki, Midorigaoka, Fujisawa, Gakugei Daigaku, and Toritsu Daigaku make up some of the most desirable suburban areas in the city. Large, stand-alone homes with correspondingly high rents are common, although there are also many upscale apartments.
    • Nakameguro Station (中目黒駅): A popular spot for young professionals with a vibrant nightlife scene, art galleries and trendy restaurants. Nakameguro is the terminus for the Hibiya subway, but it is also a major stop on the Toyoko train line that runs between Tokyo and Yokohama. During the cherry blossom season along the Meguro River, the area attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors, but during the rest of the year and on weeknights, the neighborhood is generally quite quiet. Although upscale, rents tend to be slightly less expensive than in the areas around nearby Ebisu, Jiyugaoka, and Shibuya stations. Most international schools, such as the American School in Japan (ASIJ), have a bus stop near the station.

6. Setagaya-ku (世田谷区)

  • Sangenjaya Station (三軒茶駅): Including nearby Ikejiri-ohashi, this area has lots of reasonably priced shopping and access to Setagaya Park, which is a great place for younger children to play. Temple University’s Japan Campus is within walking distance of the main station, which provides direct access to central Tokyo.
  • Shimokitazawa Station (下北沢駅): While many of the shops around the station are known for their bohemian feel (especially the thrift stores), the surrounding neighborhood is very family oriented with good schools, parks, and a quieter suburban feel.  Access to central Tokyo and the nearby Shibuya hub is easy.  Rents tend to be slightly lower than for properties within the Yamanote Line.
  • Tamagawa Station (玉川駅): Located near the Tamagawa River, this area offers a relaxed environment with green spaces and family-friendly activities. The area around the station is commonly referred to as Futako-tamagawa, often referring to the Tamagawa and Seta wards of Setagaya. St. Mary’s International School is located within walking distance of Futakotamagawa Station (二子玉川駅), up the hill from the river in an upscale neighborhood. There is a large shopping mall with a movie theater next to the train station, which provides direct access to downtown. There are running trails and large parks along the banks of the Tamagawa River.
  • Soshigaya Okusawa Station (祖師ヶ谷大蔵駅): A more affordable option compared to other areas, Soshigaya Okusawa offers a mix of residential areas and local shops.

7. Shinagawa-ku (品川区)

With ready access to Meguro Station via commuter train, select neighborhoods in this part of the city provide much more affordable housing that could be particularly good for families with young children. The Rinshi-no-mori Park is a perennial favorite among elementary school age kids.

    • Musashi-Koyama Station (武蔵小山駅): Home to one of the largest shopping malls in Tokyo, this area has many properties that offer real value for money and access to hundreds of shops.

8. Taito-ku (台東区)

A great place to start out on a budget, Taito-ku provides a vibrant mix of energetic areas and hidden gems, so finding the perfect spot depends on your lifestyle preferences.

    • Ueno (上野駅): This is a great, relatively inexpensive part of the city which is a major transportation hub—including a bullet train stop—the world famous Ueno Park and Zoo, and lively Ameyoko market.
    • Asakusa (浅草駅): You can immerse yourself in history, enjoy the lively atmosphere during the day, and enjoy how the neighborhood becomes quiet at night. You will be able to go jogging along the Sumida River and get to know the locals near your apartment. Rents tend to be much lower than in the more upscale parts of the city, although it may be difficult to find dwellings with larger floor plans. Although the area can be very crowded during weekends—especially during festivals—that’s part of what makes Asakusa an exciting place to live.
    • Yanaka (谷中) and Nezu (根津): A charming maze of narrow streets lined with traditional Japanese shops and old-fashioned candy stores. Yanaka Ginza is a particularly delightful area for exploring.
    • Uguisudani (鶯谷) and Iriya (入谷): These quieter residential neighborhoods offer a more affordable alternative to central Taito-ku. They still have a good selection of local shops and restaurants.

9. Koto-ku (江東区)

    • Toyosu Station (豊洲駅): Known for its waterfront area and reclaimed land which is now home to the relocated main fish market, this convenient part of the city has many brand new and relatively recently built skyscrapers. While the better the view, the higher the price, Toyosu’s newest stock of high-rise apartments overlook Tokyo Bay. Many feature modern amenities like concierge services, gyms, and rooftop terraces. Apartments in Toyosu tend to be on the smaller side, similar to most of central Tokyo. Studios and 1LDK (one-bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen) are most common.

10. City of Musashino (武蔵野市)

A popular place to live that is relatively nearby the American School in Japan (ASIJ) is Kichijoji (吉祥寺). This bustling suburban city center has convenient access to the center of Tokyo by both the Sobu Line and the Keio Inokashira Line.

While all of the shops near the station are, of course a big draw, the area is most famous for the beautiful Inokashira Park, which is also home to the world-famous Ghibli Museum.

While commuting distance and time would need to be considered for a move to Kichijoji, the area offers plenty of options in terms of rental apartments and stand-alone housing at rates that are much less expensive than in central Tokyo.

Besides central and suburban Tokyo, another potential area to consider is Yokohama and the Tama section of Tokyo.

Research Your Options

Once you have a general idea of where you’d like to live, delve deeper. Research:

  • Cost of Living: Apartments in central Tokyo are expensive. Consider your budget and explore options in nearby suburbs or smaller cities.
  • Neighborhood Vibe: Lively or quiet? Family-oriented or trendy? Research online or talk to expats in your chosen city.
  • Transportation: Good public transportation access is essential in most of Japan. Research train lines, bus routes, and proximity to stations.

Explore Apartment Options

  • Apartment Size: Studio apartments are common for singles, while families might need 2LDK or 3LDK options (LDK = Living, Dining, Kitchen).
  • Search Platforms: Use online platforms like Suumo, Home’s, Chintai net, or GaijinPot Apartments to find listings.
  • Real Estate Agent: Consider using a real estate agent, especially if you don’t speak Japanese. They can help navigate the search and paperwork.

Additional Tips:

  • Learn Basic Japanese: Knowing some basic phrases will go a long way in everyday life and apartment hunting.
  • Prepare Documents: You’ll need documents like a residence card, registered seal (hanko), and proof of income for applications.
  • Be Patient: Finding the perfect place might take time. Start your search early, especially if you’re moving for a job.

Ultimately, the best place for you in or near the Tokyo Metropolitan Area depends entirely on your unique lifestyle and priorities.

This guide provides a starting point, but remember, the decision is personal. By carefully considering the factors that matter most to you at this stage in your life, you’ll be well on your way to finding your ideal Japanese home.