Beijing vs Tokyo

Yesterday I came back from Beijing for some job interview.
Before posting general impression, here is another map comparison:

First a map of tokyo. the red line is the yamanote line which is really the linking line of tokyo transport system.

This is Beijing second ring. I have chosen it because it seemed the boundary of the center of the city.
Probably most foreigners live inside it. The second line goes under it. Yamanote line/ second ring seems a fair comparison in matter of relation of the city in a simpler way
yamanote line : tokyo = 2nd ring : beijing

Here are the two together.

beijing milano tokyo

The last shows Tokyo Beijing and Milan’s Navigli ring.

I received an email where I was asked to suggest which one is better to go for an internship.
Please consider that I have been in Tokyo 1.5 years, in Beijing just a few days.
Beijing is developing, Tokyo too but has already reached a high level of development.
Beijing urban planning has a russian flavor: large and long roads which make it a “car city”
Tokyo has no urban planning. Getting lost in tiny streets late at night is one of the best thing one can do.
Beijing is a construction site. I would imagine sometimes not so pleasant to live in.
Beijing is much more polluted.
Beijing is dusty. Tokyo, after a while, feels too clean.
In Beijing there are streets with trees, in Tokyo probably one or two.
Beijing is a teenager, with contrasts, virtues, dreams and possibilities.
Tokyo is more adult: efficient, polite, clean and established.

A foreigner in Tokyo is, at the beginning lost but quickly can feel well integrated.
Some cultural barriers, luckily, will always remain.
IN beijing I felt the gap between foreigners and locals is much bigger.
Foreigners tend not to speak chinese, have better salary which creates a ghetto.
Young people in Beijing speak better english than those in Tokyo.
Therefore foreigners in tokyo speak better japanese than those in beijing do with chinese.
Beijing gives more opportunities and contrasts, Tokyo more efficiency and quality.

As usual there is no conclusion because it depends mainly on what a person is looking for and his capacity of adaptability


10 Responses to Beijing vs Tokyo

  1. panapp says:

    Beh, anche Pechino ha dimensioni davvero apprezzabili. Forse per la regolarità del suo impianto, ma quando l’ho vista la prima volta su Google Earth non sembrava affatto grande.

  2. m says:

    I think your view of Tokyo sounds very much like a newbie. There are areas with tree lined streets as opposed to say Kobe or Osaka. There are probably more streets outside of the Yamanote but within the 23 wards. Most people live in the more residential wards. It is like characterizing NY by looking only at Manhatten. There are planned areas in Tokyo. There are gaijin ghettos (Azabu,Roppongi etc). Tokyo is a construction city as well as Japan being a construction nation. This is because of the many earthquakes.Politicians get elected for development. It is very easy to feel isolated as a foreigner here if you don’t speak Japanese. It would also depend on your employment. Living here 1 year is a honeymoon period so it would be hard to comment especially if you are a student or doing a very specific job that engrosses you in that world. Personally I would say that wouldn’t qualify that as “living” in a city.

  3. giacomo says:

    mister m,
    i agree with you that one cannot look at NY only considering Manhattan, or in this case Tokyo only within the yamanote line.

    The post simply confronted the two urban elements that i could see a it alike: the subway rings.
    Of course after a few time in Tokyo the comment would probably be rather superficial but in this case we have two choices: either be silent or comment being conscious of the limits of that.
    Beside this, i invite you to share your vision of Tokyo.

  4. […] tracciato da questa linea siamo nel centro di Tokyo, dove vivono 12 milioni di abitanti. Ecco un blog interessante che racconta per bene di questo centro e lo confronta con Pechino e Milano. Se guardate la mappa […]

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    Do you guys know of any schools in Tokyo where an English student (18 years old) can learn Japanese from scratch, as well as having accommodation provided?

    This would only be for 3 or 4 months.

    Thanks 🙂

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