As Tokyo ramps up preparations for the 2020 Summer Olympics, the world’s largest city is increasingly seeing itself at the top of “best places to…” lists. From Michelin to Monocle and from Apple to Rakuten, many of the world’s most respected names and brands are changing how the world looks at one of our most iconic and dynamic cities.
The Tokyo we know today has come through enormous change. Starting out as a fishing village that grew to become one of the world’s largest cities in the 1720s with a population of over one million, in the past century alone, it has been more or less rebuilt from the ground up twice, following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and the firebombing destruction of the Second World War. Rebuilding on this scale can take generations, but the speed of Tokyo’s rebirth the second time around took the world by surprise as it witnessed the city successfully host the 1964 Olympic Games just two decades after the war had ended. Maybe all this dramatic turbulence is why Tokyo’s personality is so hard to pin down.
Culinary capital of the world?
So, what is Tokyo today and why does it seem like the world is falling in love with it all over again? According to the Michelin Guide, there is no single city on Earth with as high a concentration of great restaurants. Indeed, as noted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, for the 10th consecutive year Michelin ranked Tokyo as its top culinary city, awarding stars to more of the city’s restaurants (227) than it did to second-placed Kyoto (96) and third-placed Paris (92) combined. The Journal also noted that Gurunavi, Inc. President Seiichiro Kubo, whose company works with Michelin to produce an online version of its eponymous guide, suggests that “for many foreign tourists, food is the highest priority.”
Most livable city?
Food is an undeniable plus for living in Tokyo, but for a more holistic assessment of the city’s appeal, we’re looking to the Monocle survey. The respected global affairs and lifestyle magazine first named Tokyo as the world’s most livable city in its annual survey in 2015, with the Japanese capital earning repeat honors in 2016. The survey praised Tokyo for its active nightlife, excellent public infrastructure, safety, convenience and, of course, its food. In fact, Monocle was so enthusiastic about Tokyo that it produced videos in both 2015 and 2016 to show a little bit of what Tokyo has to offer.
Magnetism as a place to work
So, it sounds like Tokyo is a great place to eat and maybe even a great place to live. But what about as a place to work? Tokyo has attracted a certain notoriety for images of commuters crammed into subway trains like overdressed sardines, but the city’s attractions for employees and employers are undeniable. In 2015, Apple selected Tokyo as the base for its new R&D center, Honda chose Tokyo over Silicon Valley for its global AI research center, and Rakuten consolidated its headquarter operations into one sleek new campus at Rakuten Crimson House. According to the Global Power City Index, compiled by the Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies, it is getting easier for employers to attract workforce talent to Japan. The index ranked Tokyo third, behind only London and New York, as the world’s most “magnetic” city, a measure of a city’s economy, research and development, cultural interaction, livability, environment and accessibility.
Clearly, these names and brands have come to understand how great a city Tokyo is – and why you, too, might want to consider paying it a visit, perhaps even permanently.