Tokio, Japan

Fernost, fernreichend

Iyna Bort Caruso

Tokyo is the most densely populated urban area in the world yet its landscape  encompasses much more than neon and concrete. The greater metropolis spans mountains to the west and islands to the south and an extensive railway system that connects it all.

Tokyo culture is original and distinct, and its influences--from manga to fashion to high tech gadgetry--are far-reaching. At the same time, residents put high value on tradition and continuity.

The Japanese capital is made up of 23 wards. Architecture skews modern. Investors from Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan lead the contingent of international buyers, although western-style renovations such as open kitchens and the addition of second bathrooms are increasingly common.

The expat community is heavily located in three areas, Minato, Shibuya and Meguro.

Within Minato, which is south of central Tokyo, is desirable Azabu a quiet, upscale area known for trendy cafes, parks and international schools. Azabu is home to the noted 29-story residential complex called Motoazabu Hills.

Azabu and the neighboring tree-lined community of Hiroo attract expats, diplomats and executives who like the semi-suburban feel within a central location. Nearby Shirokane is home to the established Tokyo elite. Some homeowners even enjoy a rarity in Tokyo--a private garden. Other desirable areas are located in pockets of more commercial districts like Omotesando, Tokyo’s fashion district.

Those seeking more green scenery find it in Denenchofu located in southwest Tokyo, a premier suburb of elegant homes and manicured gardens. Denenchofu was established more than a century ago and designed as a garden suburb. Home to celebrities and star athletes, some have described it as the Beverly Hills of Tokyo.

As a global city, Tokyo is used to the spotlight. However the wattage will be amped up for its role as host of the 2020 Summer Olympics, which will keep construction crews busy over the next few years.