Students Explain the Difference Between Tokyo and Kyoto
Tokyo is the capital of Japan, but Japan’s other cities are all attractive in their own ways. Kyoto, which was the capital of Japan for over 1,000 years, is one of those lovely cities.
Study Kyoto got together a group of five international students studying at universities in Kyoto: Katrina (USA), Bill (China), Adhiqa (from Indonesia), Xuan (China), and Anh (Vietnam).
All of the students have some experience in Tokyo, and we asked them to share their thoughts about the differences between Tokyo and Kyoto.
Are apartments different in Tokyo and Kyoto? What about neighborhoods?
It seems there’s a big difference in living situations in Tokyo and Kyoto. Transportation seems to big a point of difference, too.
Bill: “The most satisfying thing about living in Kyoto is how much larger my room is.”
Katrina: “How big was your room when you were living in Tokyo?”
Bill: “In my first year in Tokyo, I was living in a two-person room, and it couldn’t have been more than about 30 square meters. Now, in Kyoto, I’m living in a 25 square meter room by myself. It’s much more comfortable.”
Adiqha: “There’s also the part where in Tokyo, the view out your apartment window is a wall… Since I moved to Kyoto, I’ve actually been able to open my window. Every time I open the window, I feel like, ‘Ahh, I’m living the good life.’”
Xuan: “I’ve only been living in Kyoto, but you can see some nice scenery here.”
Katrina: “I’m living close to my school now, so if I open the window, I can see my school. Is there a big difference in how close you are to the schools in Tokyo?”
Adiqha, Bill: “Nah, they are further away.”
Bill: “When I first started living in Tokyo it was about 40 minutes by train [to my school].
Then in my second year, I started renting at a share house close to the school, but my room there was much smaller, only about 6 mats*. Even at 6 mats, the rent was about 80,000 yen.
*(Tatami) mats, or “jo” is a unit of size used by real estate agencies in Japan. 1 mat = more than 1.62m²
In my experience, the rent in Tokyo is about twice as much as in Kyoto. On top of that, the schools are farther away. In Kyoto a lot of students live close to the school and commute by bicycle.”
Xuan: “I’ve lived in a dorm in Kyoto. I used to live in a Japanese language school dorm, and there were lots of grocery stores in the neighborhood, and it was close to the language school, so it was a convenient place to live. There were lots of little stores, too.”
Katrina: “Did you have to cook?”
Xuan: “Nope! There were a fair amount of Chinese restaurants and things near the dorm, too.”
Transportation in Tokyo and Kyoto
Adiqha: “Another difference I noticed between Tokyo and Kyoto would probably be the trains, I guess? Trains come often in Tokyo. Once every five minutes, or once every two minutes on the Yamanote Line. Here they might come once every fifteen minutes. “
Katrina: “I ride the Kintetsu Line a lot, and it comes every 15 minutes or so. The JR Line come maybe once every 30 minutes. I used to live in Sendai, too, and the trains came more often there, so now I have to check the train times before I head out.”
Bill: “But even though the trains come more often in Tokyo, you can’t always get on them right away. Sometimes the train will be too full and you’ll have to wait for the next one.”
Katrina: “Yeah, I don’t think being unable to ride the train is something that happens much in Kyoto. It does happen with the buses, though. The crowded buses come more often, though. A lot of buses come that are headed to Kyoto Station.”
Bill: “Don’t you guys get confused when you ride the bus?”
Adiqha: “I get confused because there are so many of them.”
Katrina: “I got confused at first, but I like the buses I’ve gotten used to riding. I got confused at the intersections at first.”
Bill: “In the beginning, I got on the wrong bus three times in a row. (laughs)”
Katrina: “I’ve gotten on the wrong bus before, too, but the driver was kind, and told me I didn’t have to pay.”
Anh: “What I think is that people in Kyoto are extremely kind, and they’re really knowledgeable about things like kimono, ikebana, and tea ceremony.”