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A lot of expats are fiercely proud of their chosen Tokyo residence. Living here for around seven years now, I’ve heard multiple people talk up Koenji, Kokubunji, Ebisu, Yokohama and a number of other areas that are well-known for their fresh vibe, great restaurants, good views and sweet nightlife.
You’ll never hear anybody brag about living in Kanda, though.
That’s not to say Kanda is a bad place to live; in fact, for my money, it’s one of the greatest places to live in Tokyo and it’s all because of location and ease of living. It’s just that Kanda is so convenient that you never even give any thought to the fact you’re living there. More than perhaps anywhere else, Kanda just embodies Tokyo.
Kanda is located one stop away from Tokyo Station, which is smack in the middle of the Marunouchi area – which we’ve praised before for its convenience and charm. In the heart of the Chiyoda District – probably Tokyo’s most famous and central – Kanda is never more than a maximum 3-hour walk or 1-hour bike ride from anywhere else in Tokyo. Seriously, Roppongi, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ebisu, Toranomon, Akihabara, Ginza, Marunouchi, Ryogoku, Asakusa – it’s all easily in reach, regardless of your chosen method of transportation.
This area is also by far one of the most hassle-free places to live in Tokyo, with both above-ground and metro train stations easily in reach no matter where you set up shop, the Chiyoda City Hall a convenient walk away (an important stop for foreigners, since you’ll need to register your residence here, apply for health insurance and pay taxes), the fantastic Chiyoda City Sports Center – a public gym with weight room, swimming pool, basketball court and (yes, seriously) a sumo ring – nearby, Tokyo Station with its international food stores and high-end dining easily available by foot, and the usual assortment of fast food and grocery stores dotted throughout.
And while other, more trendy areas are obvious great choices for food, Kanda surprises with a litany of fantastic places to eat, and some of the best, most authentic international restaurants in all of Japan. The now-legendary Devil Craft, which opened its doors only a few years ago, is located just outside of JR Kanda Station, and serves the only legitimate Chicago-style pizza in Japan. Authentic American burgers can also be found at Firehouse Burger near Tokyo Dome; While Japan, left to its own devices, does a pretty mean burger, Firehouse is the only place you can find a true American burger in Tokyo (Zagat agrees with us, by the way). Kanda residents can even get their burger delivered! Just around the corner in Jimbocho is a street jam-packed with nationally-recognized ramen shops, which basically makes the area a national treasure.
For cultural excursions, Kanda is convenient to both Asakusa (a 30-minute walk) – for “old Japan” temples, tempura shops and what-have-you – and Akihabara (a 5-minute walk), for “New Japan” anime, maid cafes, arcades and more. Find a rooftop high enough and you’ll even be able to easily catch the awesome Sumida River fireworks in July.
While you’re unlikely to find that funky bar with a bizarre Engrish name and a Beatles-obsessed bartender or really anything you can truly wow your friends back home with, Kanda is one of the most deceptively comfortable, quiet, and convenient places to live in all of Tokyo.