Which do you like better, Tokyo or Shanghai? What is your opinion of each?
Eri Oikawa, lived in Tokyo
I’m half Shanghainese half Tokyoite and have lived in both for about half of my life each. (Although I just moved to Vancouver.)
I personally find major flaws in both cities which is why I’m trying to find a better place to live. The biggest flaws for Tokyo is how stressful it is and the biggest flaw for Shanghai is the lack of access to free internet.
In terms of work environment, both can be stressful but I find the formality of Japanese work environments more annoying and stressful. It is also more different from western culture. I feel like there’s more of a choice of how much you work in Shanghai and it’s easier to find jobs as people change jobs all the time. The annoying thing is a lot of the people you work with will quit. However, there’s better labor protection law in Japan despite the more systemic gender discrimination in workplace.
In terms of culture, Shanghai is very materialistic but people are friendlier and it’s easier to make close friends. Shanghai is also more international where you can meet people not just from all over the world but also those who have studied/lived abroad. If you like more down to earth people, it’s easier to find them in Tokyo although I would recommend smaller cities.
The food is a little better in Tokyo but Shanghai has better food delivery systems and much cheaper fruits. (Unless your favourite fruit is strawberry) The bread and cakes are a little better in Tokyo but Shanghai might catch up soon.
The air quality is really bad in Shanghai sometimes but people don’t talk about how it’s not so great in Tokyo most of the time. Perhaps it’s easier to find fresher air in Tokyo if you travel to the mountains.
In terms of cost of living, Shanghai is definitely cheaper as it’s easier to find cheaper labor to exploit. You can also live more on a budget considering how much basic things cost in Tokyo. Shanghai also has a ridiculously cheap public transport system that is pretty reliable. However, if you want things (clothings, makeup, electronics…) with certain quality/design that are sold in both countries, they are usually cheaper in Tokyo. What I’m trying to say is more “expensive” things are cheaper in Tokyo.
In conclusion, I would pick Shanghai over Tokyo if not for the internet but I’m sure there are better cities to live on earth.
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Sara Ying, True Shanghainese
It’s really hard to choose between the two cities, especially since Shanghai and Tokyo have a lot of similarities. But, ultimately I think Shanghai wins for me. It’s more attractive in the sense that it retains much of its culture. When you visit, it’s hard not to bump shoulders with locals and stumble into the living quarters of the working class. Even at the most touristy sites, like Nanjing Road, you will still see really old architecture (for example, my great-grandfather worked in some of the buildings that still stand on that road today). Tokyo also has many cultural sites, but I feel like a lot of it has been “cleaned up” to be viewed by tourists. What you’ll find in Shanghai is raw and unfiltered, a great experience in my opinion
Tony Kim, lived in Tokyo
I’ve lived in Yokohama / Tokyo 8 months and visited Shanghai once a month for one week for 6 years.
For me, Shanghai wins for the following reasons:
The Chinese people are typically cold and not very welcoming until you get to know them. They show true friendship and brotherhood. Japanese are warm and friendly from the start but never goes deeper then pleasantly.
Chinese people welcome you to their home and offer you their couch if u don't have hotel. The Japanese would never go out of their ways for a foreigner
The History and culture. China was ravaged through wars and revolution. Japan was burnt to the ground and rebuilt.
Japan is a copy of New York with some hidden jewels of modern Japan. Shanghai is unique in all of Asia. Glitzy clubs, restaurant along flowing green streets in French concention, sky scrapers make Tokyo look like 2 tier cities all along old Shanghai charm
Shanghai has done a great job to keep it international feel while retaining the old Shanghai
Japanese food is bland and limited. There is so much sushi, katsu and soba you can eat then it's all the same. Very limited. Chinese food …. OMG. Too many to select. After 10 years of traveling to China, I'm still finding new exciting food to enjoy. It's always an adventure in a nice way
Shanghai metro, high speed trains, mag lev and taxi is world class. Ok - the Japanese system is much more punctual but cost very expensive. China / Shanghai infra is much more local friendly and WIDE SCALE.
Tokyo is ALMOST sterile city. It's clean but walk the back streets and it's just like Shanghai
Tokyo almost felt like living in a fake city. Bland and no soul. Everyone walking around doing the 9to5 everyday life in a make up world. Don't get me wrong, visiting there as a tourist for one week is great. I was fascinated with Tokyo till I found the bland life of it.
Shanghai never gets bland. Tokyo’s the runner up to the miss universe competition. Still beautiful, still exotic and cultured but miss Shanghai is the crown winner
Ben Collier, works at Lloyds Banking Group (2013-present)
I’ve been to Tokyo twice and Shanghai just once, spending a fair amount of time in each. For me, Tokyo takes the win for the following reasons:
- The Japanese people are typically very welcoming and friendly. I have had great experiences with Chinese people, but found the warmth and friendliness of Japanese people to be almost overwhelming.
- The History and culture. Again, this is a close one, but I think Tokyo has done a better job of preserving it’s past both in terms of physical buildings and within the contemporary arts scene. Shanghai museum is fantastic, as is the colonial waterfront, but there is very little that remains of historic Shanghai. Everything felt very modern, but in areas certain a little soulless.
- The food. I love the thousands of tiny Japanese restaurants dotting the backstreets; you get a real feel of being somewhere unique and, obviously, it tastes great. Shanghai has much less of a food culture.
- The infrastructure. Tokyo’s metro and transport system is slightly more modern and functional and the traffic seems to flow much better. Shanghai has the feeling of growing too big too quickly.
- The look/feel of each city. Tokyo is genuinely beautiful and retains a distinctly Japanese feel everywhere you go. The streets are immaculately clean, mostly well-planned, and there is a lot of open space, parks etc. I spent hours per day just walking around Tokyo and always discovered something new and interesting. Shanghai has beautiful areas and some nice parkland, but it does not come close to that of Tokyo; it felt quite Western to me, comparatively dirty and had the pervading feeling of runaway urbanisation.
Delong Tsway, Been to China and Japan.
I am Chinese so I am biased for Shanghai however I have been to both cities and will try to give an objective analysis as best I can. In terms of architecture I like Shanghai better partly because there’s a lot of european buildings and so the city gives me a romantic feel similar to Paris. There’s a reason why Shanghai is called the Paris of the East. Shanghai I think has more water to it although I could be wrong about this. But at least it feels that way. Rivers and water gardens permeate the city. It creates a very dreamy romantic feel for me which I like.
However in terms of futuristic technology I’ll have to give this one to Tokyo. They’re really good at that stuff and it’s no use denying it. They have some traditional Buddhist stuff to but it doesn’t seem like most people visiting the city care about it. I’m really impressed with the technology of Tokyo and also how greenery is infused with the city.
In terms of culture I’m obviously biased towards Chinese. Japanese culture in my honest opinion is just super weird. It’s too much to go into this post but Japanese culture I don’t think it’s healthy. I’m willing to admit China is not that much better in this regard. But it’s still not Japanese level weirdness. In my opinion comparing China to Japan is like comparing an ogre to a snake. They’re both bad but at least one of them is not a snake. (And I’m talking about japan)
So all in all I choose Shanghai but I’ll acknowledge that Tokyo is a really cool city regardless of how weird Japanese people are.
Jasmine Wang, lives in Shanghai (2009-present)
Personally, I’d pick Tokyo. While i do like anime, that isnt why I’d pick Japan. I currently live in Shanghai, so this may caused a baised opinon bc I haven’t truly lived there(I stayed there for a month). I’d pick tokyo over Shanghai because of how clean it is and how polite people are. The pm2.5/AQI in Shanghia can get really bad—one time it literally was off the charts. Architecturally, Tokyo has much prettier buildings. In my personal opinion, China in general has lost their architectural touch.
However, that is not to say Shanghai isn’t great as well. Honestly speaking, in Shanghai, you can find any type of food and there is always something to do. Also, there are so many forms of entertainment in Shanghai, such as jump360, interactive games, lazer tag, the list goes on. Another benefit of Shanghai, or China in general, is Taobao.
Xu Lucy, studied at China
Given your comment to the question I suggest you to change the question to one of the followings
Why do you like Shanghai? (I don’t)
Which part of Shanghai’s culture do you like to most? (Been there a few times but don’t know the place enough to answer the question. It has better infrastructure than most Chinese cities but I don’t think that’s part of its culture. )
What are some competitive advantages of Shanghai comparing to Tokyo? (Higher GDP growth rate, maybe)
Yuki Fujinari, Half japanese/half german.
As a half-Japanese, I might be biased.
Ofcourse I would choose to rather live in Tokyo. Tokyo is basically the first city that comes to anyones mind, when you say “big city” or even “Mega City”.
But ofcourse as I know Tokyo as well as my pocket, I have a fascination for Shanghai.
Its bigger in size and in buildings and looks futuristic. I definitely would say Shanghai is superior to Tokyo, but I think it depends on the deciding factors you choose