New in Tokyo!? You’re probably asking yourself: “Where do I start? What should I visit? Who can I ask?”. I’ve been there and I asked around. I got help from many and I will try to do the same with this post.
In these past 4–5 years I am frequently traveling to Tokyo. Tokyo is not just sushi, sake, and neon lights. It’s a city of contrasts, blending the old culture with the new modern hi-tech. From ancient Japanese temples to glassy skyscrapers, Tokyo has it all. Speaking of, it has so many events it will blow your mind off. Food, dancing, meetups (local and international), IT, design, business networking, Pikachu parade 😀 you name it, they have it all. It is just impossible to visit everything.
Although many of these events are in Japanese, there are plenty that are bilingual. Even though I don’t speak the language (I’m learning it btw), in just 3 months I met more than 150 people at these events and some of those acquaintances turned into friendships and collaborations.
In this post, I’ll give you my hand-picked suggestions about some events I’ve attended that I believe can be beneficial for you.
1. Hacker News Tokyo. A big venue (they will change it soon) with a lot of attendees. This is a business networking event for enthusiasts, hobbyists, techies, designers, marketing experts, etc. There is no agenda but there are 10–15 mins announcements and information panels for sharing. The interesting thing is that anyone can pitch (1–2 min) some news, job openings, people looking for a job. I have a software studio, so I pitched for 2 mins. It went something like: “ At Web Factory we offer backend, frontend, and mobile software development. From idea to market. Anyone interested, I am the guy to talk to :)”. The host is Jay and he is doing a great job! I will definitely attend again. https://www.meetup.com/Hacker-News-Tokyo-Japan/
2. JAM events. The host, Ryan, has more than 15 years of experience in digital marketing, globally. The JAM events are held once per month and it’s about digital marketing, SNS, and IT trends. I went to two of these, one for “Facebook marketing in Japan” and one for “How to get 10,000 Instagram followers”. The event is energetic and informative. The presenters are professionals with 10–15 years of experience under their belts. We had Justin, Donny, Ryan and Evan sharing their experiences through casual lectures and small workshops. We discussed about strategies for imaginary products and services, like hair products and dating apps. If you want to learn more about marketing, this is the place to visit. Each month they have something new on the pipeline. https://www.meetup.com/Tokyo-Marketing-Meetup/
3. Internation official event. Great event for meeting foreigners in Tokyo (or any other city). This event helped me realize that I’m not alone, there are thousands like me (and you) :). Internation is a platform for people that constantly move between countries. The event is like a meetup or business networking event but less formal. If you go to their website there are a lot of groups for you to join and meet people. “Let’s drink sake”, “let’s climb Mount Fuji”, and so forth :). The event is without an agenda, just meet and greet. Have fun by drinking few beers, get to know other cultures, share knowledge and passion. http://internations.org
4. Digital Marketers Tokyo. This event is held by Jeff, who worked for Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, you name it! Recently, he opened his own digital marketing company in Japan. Great community, with many new faces (like me). They actually said that 50% of the people who attend on every meeting are new (like I was last time:)). This event is also a good opportunity to learn something new from the keynote speakers. Don’t miss your chance to visit this one and while you’re at it, note that you can sign up to be speaker in case you have something to share. https://www.meetup.com/Tokyo-Digital-Marketers/
5. UX Talk Tokyo. This was a recommendation from a friend which turned out to be an excellent one. It has presentations on both Japanese and English, which is very good. As you might assume, most of the attendees are coming from a design (UI/UX) background but some 30–40% were from closely related industries (marketing, software development, architecture). Some came to see what’s new, some came looking for job and some were offering jobs. You can also make your pitch on this event, which lasts for about a minute. http://www.uxtalktokyo.com/
Some of these events have the nijikai (二次会, izakaya, drinking time) so you can continue your conversations with the people you met (about 1–2h afterwards).
The number of events around Tokyo is endless. I haven’t been to many of them but once I visit more, I will post an update so be sure to keep track of me both here and on the events. If you found this post useful or if you need some extra information, write me in the comments. Also, if you know some good events out there, please share and I will be glad to attend and meet… as long as there is beer :).
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