02 May, 2014

City "Culture Shock"

This morning on Facebook, I mistakenly called Cairns a "small town". It actually has a population of about 150,000 people and an area of 488 square kilometres. Obviously I've lived in Tokyo too long now!

I like the definition of city from here:
1. A center of population, commerce, and culture; a town of significant size and importance.

After travelling in remote Australia, I can totally understand why Cairns is a city, it is of significant size in its local surrounds. And really compared to other centres of population in Australia, it is quite large. There are some very small places which are officially called cities in Australia, for example Ararat in Victoria which has only about 7,000 people.
These are the official Tokyo boundaries,
but really the population spills north,
south and east without break (west is

We live in Tokyo, which isn't a city, though it is commonly called that. It is officially a Metropolitan Prefecture. It contains 23 special wards, 26 cities, one district, and four sub prefectures (whatever a sub prefecture is). What's more, it is part of the world's most populous metropolitan area with upwards of 35 million people and the world's largest urban agglomeration economy. (Wikipedia)

The particular city that we live in within Tokyo has an estimated population of 116,006 and a population density of 8,980 persons per km². The total area is 12.92 km². So it's a little less in population than Cairns and a lot less in land area. One train stop from here (two minutes) and we're into a new city.

Depending on which direction you head, it can take hours of
driving from where we live to get free of scenery like this.
I'd really better get back to my editing work that is piling up, not get distracted by cities and so forth. However, I do note again, that after living in Tokyo for nearly eight years now, there aren't many places in Australia that will feel really big ever again. Brisbane is big, in terms of land area, but not population. It takes ages to drive from one side to another! But nothing compared to Tokyo where I can sit on a train for two or three hours without seeing much break in high density housing. Phew! So please excuse me if I view your city of 150,000 people as a small town.


Barbara said...

Many years ago in a London college one of my Japanese group mates stated that Kyoto was a very boring city. I (coming from a city of about 30,000 inhabitants) wondered what she meant. Her answer: "It is so small!" She was from Tokyo, of course ;)

Gary B said...

When I was in fifth grade, I lived with my grandparents for a year in northern Minnesota. I looked forward to occasionally going into the big city (Bemidji), which is a center of commerce there. A few years ago I visited again, and was shocked to find how small it is. The population of Bemidji today is probably about the same as it was when I was a child — 15,000. Amazing how one's perspective changes.