Living in Higashi-Murayama, Tokyo: Guide for Foreigners
Higashi-Murayama is a city located on the western edge of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. It’s home to around 150,000 residents and is surrounded by several other municipalities. This allows you to find everything you need within a short distance, while you can also reach central Tokyo in 30 minutes by train.
This area has been inhabited for thousands of years and many remains from Paleolithic times have been discovered here. Though its rich history has been preserved, it has also developed into an urban area, attracting many businesses and residents who want to get away from the crowded streets of downtown Tokyo, in addition to students who study at Waseda University.
"Benten Koen in Higashimurayama" by mamichan is licensed under CC BY 2.0
How To Get There
You can reach Higashi-Murayama Station via express train from Shinjuku Station on the Seibu Shinjuku line in less than 30 minutes. This line also goes further to the north and ends in Kawagoe city.
If you want to reach Western areas and cities such as Fussa, you have the Seibu Haijima Line at your disposal, and there are also several shorter lines that allow quick and easy navigation within the city.
Things To See
"kitayama park, higashimurayama" by mamichan is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Higashi-Murayama was known as a center of tea production until World War II. It has now developed into a residential suburb, but local industries are still alive and well, especially the food industry. The best-known production facility is PoleStar Inc., a seasoning manufacturer which has been in operation since 1850. The factory is open to visitors and you can try out their products in the on-site shop.
This area is also known for its beautiful green spaces, including smaller parks like Bentenkei and Kitayama, and larger green areas like Yatsukuniyama, which was an inspiration for the popular anime movie My Neighbor Totoro.
You can learn more about the history and culture of the area in one of its historic temples. Shōfukuji Temple is a Zen temple built in the 15th century and is a beautiful example of Zen Buddhist architecture. Tokuzo-ji is another Buddhist temple which is also famous for its interesting collections of old handmade artifacts, such as ancient stone tools and plate-shaped monuments.
To see a different, less beautiful side of Japanese history, you should visit the National Hansen’s Disease Museum.In the past, those suffering from Hansen’s disease (more commonly known as leprosy) in Japan were sent to isolated sanatoriums, due to lack of knowledge. This museum is a commemoration to those patients and allows you to learn all about the illness and its history in Japan.
Rent Prices and Lifestyle in Higashi-Murayama
"higashimurayama" by mamichan is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Higashi-Murayama is a walkable city and offers everything you may need by foot. There is a generous range of Japanese and international shops, restaurants, and bars, including the popular Distant Shores Brewing opened by an expat from the USA. It has also signed a sister-city treaty with Independence, Missouri, and many activities and events are organized to connect the US residents with local Japanese.
Although it has developed into an urban area, the atmosphere is still a mix of urban and rural. Parks and greenery are plentiful, and you can easily visit more rural areas with a short trip to the West.
Finally, the rent prices are significantly lower than downtown Tokyo, and you won’t have trouble finding a small apartment for around ¥60,000 ($546 USD). For the average Tokyo price of a studio apartment, which is about ¥100,000 ($911 USD), you can get a high-end one-bedroom apartment or a standard two-bedroom.
The cities on the northwestern edge of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area are popular among commuters, and Higashi-Murayama has also attracted many foreigners in the past few years. This new popularity is a result of a combination of affordable rent prices and beautiful green areas,with more than enough modern facilities to make life comfortable and exciting.
Sources: Brittanica, ATT Japan, Real Estate Japan
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