Published: 21 Jul 2016
Updated: 21 Apr 2022
Category: Compass Cities

Compass City Guides: Tokyo


Japan has the world’s third-largest economy (by nominal GDP) though is struggling with issues such as a low birth rate. In any case, Japan’s elderly enjoy the highest life expectancy in the world. Japan also leads in technology specifically scientific research and robotic production. Japan is quite homogenous with almost most of the population being Japanese in ethnicity, with sizable populations of Koreans and Chinese. In total, Japan boasts a population of 126 million.

Whether in urban areas like Tokyo and Osaka or ski resort hotspot Hokkaido, Japan is a visual adventure. From soaking it up at an onsen or meditating in a zen garden, Japan is all about ritual: from preparing for the bathhouse to eyeing the careful lines raked in the garden, it can seem like there’s no room for disorder. Yet pastimes in Japan are unruly and often messy: karaoke is a sport-like activity, extending well into the night. Pachinko parlors – a form of gambling where little steel balls are dropped into machines – are on major roads. There are endless bars that are open late catering to all vices, and no city in the world can match the diverse nightlife found in Tokyo.

Meguro District, located in southwest Tokyo, features hip stores, a scenic canal, quaint coffee shops and artsy sites, ideal for wanting to live a stone’s throw away from the main hub surrounded by suburban comforts. Largely a residential and commercial district, Meguro neighbors are Shibuya, Setagaya, Ota and Sinagawa District.
Thoughtful temples dot the landscape of Meguro, including Ryusenji Temple, Daienji Temple and Otori Shrine. Other sites include the Meguro Parasitological Museum, the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum and Institute for Nature Study. Several companies have head offices in Meguro, including Unilever Japan, Amazon Japan and Walt Disney Japan. University of Tokyo’s Komaba Campus is located in Meguro. The laid back atmosphere coupled with the ease of urbanity may also be why 15 foreign embassies and consulates choose to have their location here.
Meguro River flows through the ward and is a popular site for viewing cherry blossoms. During cherry blossom season, which falls from mid-March to early April, the street alongside Meguro River is crowded with families and visitors. Nakameguro is the trendy area in town and also the oldest shopping street, filled with boutiques and galleries and plenty of eateries. Meguro is famous for its sanma, or saury, a type of fish with a slightly bitter taste that is often served grilled. Meguro holds the Sanma Matsuri (Mackerel festival) that is a celebration of this snack.


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