Thursday, June 18, 2015

Business trip to Tokyo - part 3: New vs. old in Japan

Tokyo is the biggest and probably one of the most overcrowded cities in the world with a rich history and numerous peculiarities of its own. It's full of rules, restrictions and signs ensuring that the mass of people is capable to coexist in such dense living and implements various means and tech gadgets to ease the chaos resulting from "unnecessary" human contact. No wonder about that. Tokyo (or Edo, as it was originally named until less than 150 years ago when it became the imperial city and official capital of Japan) was inhabited by over million of people already by the end of the 18th century. Although the emperor still remained in Kyoto, Edo was a de facto capital and trade center since the line of Tokugawa shoguns declared the city as their headquarters. 
Heavily destroyed twice during the 20th century, after a strong earthquake in 1923 and later the 2nd world war, the city of Tokyo was fully rebuilt, more or less delicately combining the aspects of old and new, traditional and modern. The city has preserved its genius loci, and it keeps its antique appearance despite being crisscrossed by railways and expressways and dotted with skyscrapers all over. The narrow streets with typical architecture surrounded by the pulsing, modern city around them maybe what makes Tokyo so popular among tourists.

Typical rice wine barrels  in front of a typical building and details that blend old and new.

Crime rates are extremely low given the number of inhabitants in this metropolis. You don't need to be afraid not to lock everything up; your stuff is usually right where you last left it.

Even the grocery stores feel, well, traditional, with goods often displayed outside, right on the street. No security around. The Japanese culture relying on rules and manners simply doesn't expect you to do something as incomprehensible and low as shoplifting :)

Religion has a huge say in terms of traditions. Displays with wooden plates at local temples or little papers where people write their wishes and prayers are a common sight around the city...

 ...and sometimes you dont even know how, you suddenly get from here... here. The city skyline also features green parks with pagodas, lakes, trees and most importantly peace... 

...Buddha statues...

 ...and an occasional geisha :)

Tokyo is indeed one striking city with its specific nature, business opportunities and experience it provides, mainly to "Western" people. Knowing different cultures and how people think are key issues to mutual understanding, in both human and business relations. Here at idioma, we are fully dedicated to help you with understanding different cultures and markets and expand your business thanks to a localized message. Learn more at

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