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View Poll Results: Which feels bigger to you?
Tokyo 116 73.42%
New York 42 26.58%
Voters: 158. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-22-2017, 05:58 AM
 
16 posts, read 8,928 times
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I read numerous articles on this because after living in NY for several years and now possibly moving permanently to Tokyo, I was afraid I would not get that same "buzz" or "energy" that you get in NY. When someone asks how much a city feels big or overwhelming, I really think of 2 or 3 different meanings for that. After now living in Tokyo for the last 3 months in Shinjuku, I feel I can answer this question.

The OP said, "this is specifically about how subjectively large, massive, crowded, impressive, prominent each city feels". If large, massive, and crowded means exactly what it says in a "by-the-book" definition, then I would say Tokyo feels larger, in the sense that it goes on and on and on for what seems like forever. Whereas NY thins out more quickly, Tokyo doesn't really have that "central" feeling that you get in Manhattan, with the other boroughs there to kind of "support" the main island. As far as being crowded, Tokyo has a higher number of crowded areas from what I've gathered. What I mean is, you can go to Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Akihabara, Harajuku....countless central areas where you'll find hordes of people. NY has the usual suspects - Times Square, Grand Central, Penn Station, Union Square, etc. But from what I've experienced here, there's more areas with more crowds here in Tokyo than in NY.

However, here is where I mentioned in the first paragraph how "bigger" and "overwhelming" might take on a different meaning. In terms of energy, fast-pace of life, etc, then I will have to say NY takes the cake on this. This may seem a little strange being that I said Tokyo has more crowded areas, but Tokyo just doesn't have the energy that NY has. People can debate all day on this, but I'll give you something that I think can testify to this and it's something I realized within just a couple weeks of being here.
The reason for the difference in energy I think really boils down to the difference in culture. Japanese culture is polite, reserved, etc. You won't hear nearly to the same extent as NY the blaring horns, yelling in the street, loud firetrucks and ambulances (the ambulances/police/firetrucks aren't as loud as NY's). Cars also tend not to drive as crazy and fast as drivers in NY. You also will notice that people tend not to cross the street if the pedestrian sign says to not go, even if there are no cars in sight at all (although people do walk across at times). NY is in-your-face, it's direct, it's kill or be killed, all day and all night. It's American capitalism and American culture that really contributes to this. There are areas here in Tokyo in Shinjuku where you can literally go off on a side street and (at least compared to NY) almost hear a pin drop. Living in Manhattan, you're constantly bombarded by street noise. It may not be insane all the time, but in general, the decibel level in NY is just greater. Another instance where you can see the difference in pace of life is in the service you receive in Japanese conbinis (convenience stores) and NY bodegas. In Japan, when you enter many businesses, it's not odd for someone to say hello or welcome. Staff are also very considerate and may say thank you every step of the way throughout you completing your purchase, all the way until you get out of the door. Again, this is the polite, customer-service-centered Japanese culture. Take this in contrast from a NY bodega (bodega is like a family-owned convenience store), where you could see someone grab a bag of chips, walk up and throw a dollar bill on the counter, hold the chips up to show the guy at the counter what he's getting and that he's paid for it, and then walking out with no words exchanged in the whole 10-20 seconds that it all happened. I know these examples may be a bit detailed or extreme, but it really goes to show you how the culture is the real reason why that energy is just not there in Tokyo as in NY. I blow past people walking around the city or through the subway stations (although admittedly, I also walked faster on average in NY than a lot of people). Japanese people are very polite and formal, whereas NY'ers....in everyday life, not so much. This also goes to show you that simply looking at statistics like population density don't necessarily give you the whole picture when answering such a question. Buildings are also built higher on average in Manhattan than in Tokyo, and I think walking down the street surrounded by these huge skyscrapers also adds to that big city feel.

One last tidbit I will add is that people in Tokyo party hard. Staying out until 5 or 6 am to get the train home is pretty common (the trains shut down from 1-5 am), so you'll see partying going on welllll into the night and morning. However, once again, unless maybe you're in Roppongi, you won't see nearly as much yelling, fighting in the street, and other drunk/drug escapades that you'd see in, for instance, the East Village in NY. Again with the cultural differences.

Hope that all helps
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Old 01-22-2017, 09:56 PM
 
Location: In the heights
20,139 posts, read 21,752,589 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ny2asia1234 View Post
I read numerous articles on this because after living in NY for several years and now possibly moving permanently to Tokyo, I was afraid I would not get that same "buzz" or "energy" that you get in NY. When someone asks how much a city feels big or overwhelming, I really think of 2 or 3 different meanings for that. After now living in Tokyo for the last 3 months in Shinjuku, I feel I can answer this question.

The OP said, "this is specifically about how subjectively large, massive, crowded, impressive, prominent each city feels". If large, massive, and crowded means exactly what it says in a "by-the-book" definition, then I would say Tokyo feels larger, in the sense that it goes on and on and on for what seems like forever. Whereas NY thins out more quickly, Tokyo doesn't really have that "central" feeling that you get in Manhattan, with the other boroughs there to kind of "support" the main island. As far as being crowded, Tokyo has a higher number of crowded areas from what I've gathered. What I mean is, you can go to Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Akihabara, Harajuku....countless central areas where you'll find hordes of people. NY has the usual suspects - Times Square, Grand Central, Penn Station, Union Square, etc. But from what I've experienced here, there's more areas with more crowds here in Tokyo than in NY.

However, here is where I mentioned in the first paragraph how "bigger" and "overwhelming" might take on a different meaning. In terms of energy, fast-pace of life, etc, then I will have to say NY takes the cake on this. This may seem a little strange being that I said Tokyo has more crowded areas, but Tokyo just doesn't have the energy that NY has. People can debate all day on this, but I'll give you something that I think can testify to this and it's something I realized within just a couple weeks of being here.
The reason for the difference in energy I think really boils down to the difference in culture. Japanese culture is polite, reserved, etc. You won't hear nearly to the same extent as NY the blaring horns, yelling in the street, loud firetrucks and ambulances (the ambulances/police/firetrucks aren't as loud as NY's). Cars also tend not to drive as crazy and fast as drivers in NY. You also will notice that people tend not to cross the street if the pedestrian sign says to not go, even if there are no cars in sight at all (although people do walk across at times). NY is in-your-face, it's direct, it's kill or be killed, all day and all night. It's American capitalism and American culture that really contributes to this. There are areas here in Tokyo in Shinjuku where you can literally go off on a side street and (at least compared to NY) almost hear a pin drop. Living in Manhattan, you're constantly bombarded by street noise. It may not be insane all the time, but in general, the decibel level in NY is just greater. Another instance where you can see the difference in pace of life is in the service you receive in Japanese conbinis (convenience stores) and NY bodegas. In Japan, when you enter many businesses, it's not odd for someone to say hello or welcome. Staff are also very considerate and may say thank you every step of the way throughout you completing your purchase, all the way until you get out of the door. Again, this is the polite, customer-service-centered Japanese culture. Take this in contrast from a NY bodega (bodega is like a family-owned convenience store), where you could see someone grab a bag of chips, walk up and throw a dollar bill on the counter, hold the chips up to show the guy at the counter what he's getting and that he's paid for it, and then walking out with no words exchanged in the whole 10-20 seconds that it all happened. I know these examples may be a bit detailed or extreme, but it really goes to show you how the culture is the real reason why that energy is just not there in Tokyo as in NY. I blow past people walking around the city or through the subway stations (although admittedly, I also walked faster on average in NY than a lot of people). Japanese people are very polite and formal, whereas NY'ers....in everyday life, not so much. This also goes to show you that simply looking at statistics like population density don't necessarily give you the whole picture when answering such a question. Buildings are also built higher on average in Manhattan than in Tokyo, and I think walking down the street surrounded by these huge skyscrapers also adds to that big city feel.

One last tidbit I will add is that people in Tokyo party hard. Staying out until 5 or 6 am to get the train home is pretty common (the trains shut down from 1-5 am), so you'll see partying going on welllll into the night and morning. However, once again, unless maybe you're in Roppongi, you won't see nearly as much yelling, fighting in the street, and other drunk/drug escapades that you'd see in, for instance, the East Village in NY. Again with the cultural differences.

Hope that all helps
Spot on. The first thing I noticed on returning to NYC was just how goddamn loud, in virtually every and any way, in comparison.
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Old 01-28-2017, 03:06 PM
 
Location: Tokyo, Japan
6,479 posts, read 7,719,547 times
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Tokyo would definitely feel more overwhelming and bigger than New York, in part, because it actually is more overwhelming and bigger than New York.

Watch and learn.

Tokyo:


Credit to tokyoform on Flickr: https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1537/...31872fd5_b.jpg


Credit to Jan Brunaes on Flickr: https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5455/3...396005ec_b.jpg


Credit to Jan Brunaes on Flickr: https://c7.staticflickr.com/6/5701/3...c3c6f0d9_b.jpg


Credit to shirooooo on Flickr: https://c7.staticflickr.com/9/8678/2...b6c2357b_b.jpg


Credit to Krzysztof Baranowski on Flickr: https://c6.staticflickr.com/8/7477/2...8b551474_b.jpg


Credit to Yukinori Hasumi photography on Flickr: https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1527/...49ed1d23_b.jpg

I'm sorry, I love New York and all, but it cannot compete with this. That's just the truth, it is what it is.
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Old 02-13-2017, 10:11 AM
 
16 posts, read 8,928 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
Tokyo would definitely feel more overwhelming and bigger than New York, in part, because it actually is more overwhelming and bigger than New York.

I'm sorry, I love New York and all, but it cannot compete with this. That's just the truth, it is what it is.
I love New York, too, but, again, I think it really comes down to what you consider "overwhelming". If geographical area alone is enough, then sure, Tokyo spans a larger area. But if overwhelming is pace of life and general vibe of the city, I have trouble seeing how anyone could feel Tokyo is more overwhelming than NY. It comes down to Japanese culture vs NY American culture, and in that regard, NY is much more loud, in-your-face, and fast-paced than Japanese culture is. I've never felt overwhelmed in Tokyo, although I am sometimes surprised by how expansive the city is. Tokyo feels much more calm than NY, to say otherwise is just factually incorrect. Anyone could see that simply by standing around a busy area of Manhattan and then standing around shibuya crossing or in front of shinjuku station. Both are crowded, but you won't hear near the noise or feel somewhat of a chaotic feel like you would in the former.
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Old 02-14-2017, 08:24 AM
 
Location: In the heights
20,139 posts, read 21,752,589 times
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Tokyo stays very urban and walkable for a much larger expanse than NYC, but I'm not sure I'd call it more overwhelming. The cultural differences for some might be, depending on where you're coming from, but not so much from just the scale of walking around in the city. Tokyo's density is fairly distributed even in its densest neighborhoods and most areas are built such that streets and alleys are everywhere and areas where people can walk through so it's not like everyone's crammed into just the main thoroughfares. This is combined with everything just being quieter and cleaner in Tokyo such that I'd say NYC is in general, not just Manhattan, more overwhelming in a lot of ways and not necessarily for particularly favorable reasons.

Last edited by OyCrumbler; 02-14-2017 at 08:39 AM..
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Old 02-14-2017, 08:36 AM
 
130 posts, read 60,490 times
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New York is a quaint town compared to some really mega monster cities like Tokyo, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Mexico City.

Tokyo feels far more overwhelming in every aspect.
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Old 02-14-2017, 10:09 AM
 
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Also, buildings in Tokyo are not as tall. Skyscrapers are here are there, but not anywhere as closely/densely or in number as NY's. I was surprised by how low built most buildings are.

Last edited by ny2asia1234; 02-14-2017 at 10:45 AM..
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Old 02-14-2017, 10:14 AM
 
16 posts, read 8,928 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marble-ky View Post
New York is a quaint town compared to some really mega monster cities like Tokyo, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Mexico City.

Tokyo feels far more overwhelming in every aspect.
A quaint town? OK, now we all know you've never been to NY. Either that or you have a massive bias. NY is anything but quaint. If you want to say Tokyo is quaint, it'd be strange but would fit much more than saying NY is.

In fact, if people really want to do a comparison to NY, I think Hong Kong is more similar, although still different. Tokyo is a different thing altogether, while HK has more of the density, architecture, noise, and grime of NY. It has more of the vibe and energy of NY.

Last edited by ny2asia1234; 02-14-2017 at 10:47 AM..
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Old 02-14-2017, 10:22 AM
 
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For those interested:

The Evolving Urban Form: Tokyo | Newgeography.com

Tokyo is often portrayed as one of the world's highest density urban areas. It is not.

Last edited by Rozenn; 02-17-2017 at 02:23 PM.. Reason: Copyright
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Old 02-14-2017, 11:28 AM
 
130 posts, read 60,490 times
Reputation: 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by ny2asia1234 View Post
A quaint town? OK, now we all know you've never been to NY. Either that or you have a massive bias. NY is anything but quaint. If you want to say Tokyo is quaint, it'd be strange but would fit much more than saying NY is.

In fact, if people really want to do a comparison to NY, I think Hong Kong is more similar, although still different. Tokyo is a different thing altogether, while HK has more of the density, architecture, noise, and grime of NY. It has more of the vibe and energy of NY.
I lived in NYC 5 years

And Hong Kong is way faster and more hectic than NYC

No one is saying that NYC is a sleepy village, but NYC is a bit overrated in the sense that people want to make it look as if it some insane super high speed place where nothing literally comes to an end!

Although the city is fast (it's a huge city after all), NYC is not as fast/hectic/overwhelming as plenty of cities out there including Tokyo.
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