Views #861 | Intermediate 5

Tokyo vs. New York

Mari grew up in both Tokyo and NYC and discusses the difference between the two.
Mike: Hey, Mari. So, we're comparing places this week and you've lived in two great cities: Tokyo and New York and you speak both English and Japanese so you must know them very well, so can you tell me about the people in the places?

Mari: In New York City, the people are friendly. If you're lost in the subway or you're not sure which bus to take, if you ask someone, even though they look pretty busy or absorbed they'll be willing to tell you which way you are supposed to go, and they'll be very blunt and tell you if they don't know which one you're supposed to take. When you go into the stores, the people in the stores are... they like to make small talk with you. They're interested in you as a person in terms of where you're from or you know, what you are looking for that day and why you are looking for that item.

I think in Tokyo, if you are in the subway station, or the train station, the JR people or the subway people are very helpful in terms of which subway you're supposed to go on, or to help you get to that destination, but when you go into the stores, the clerks are very helpful in terms of finding whatever you're looking for, but I think because of the culture, they're not... they don't delve into your personal life as much as the shop attendants in New York.

Mike: So in terms of food, how does it differ between New York and Tokyo?

Mari: I think New York and Tokyo both have very international foods. In both cities, you can find foods from all over the world. I think that because New York City is a city of immigrants, you get very... the people who cook the foods are from that country, while in Japan I feel like if you go to a Mexican restaurant and you see like a Japanese person cooking the Mexican food, so I think that the cuisine, the international cuisine in New York City is more real versus the one in Japan.

Mike: So, if you had to eat one thing in New York and one thing in Tokyo, what would it be?

Mari: Oh, my gosh, that's a very difficult question. In New York City I would eat pizza. I think that they have the best pizza in the world. If you like greasy, cheesy pizza. In Japan, I really like the Italian food in Japan. I know that it's not very authentic Italian food but I think they do a really good job with Italian food here.

Mike: Oh, that's interesting. So, in terms of shopping, where would you like to shop more?

Mari: I feel like I'm going to be biased towards New York City but I think that the shopping in New York City is a lot better. The primary reason being that it's just cheaper.

Learn Vocabulary from the lesson



Even if they're absorbed they'll tell you.

When we are 'absorbed' in something, we give it all of our attention and don't notice other people or things around us.  Notice the following:

  1. He was absorbed in the newspaper.
  2. They were absorbed in serious conversation.



They'll be very blunt.

In speech, the word 'blunt' means to be very short and direct.  Notice the following:

  1. His blunt response sounded impolite.
  2. I'll be blunt: the answer is no.

make small talk


People make small talk.

'Small talk' is friendly conversation between people who often don't know each other, such as "The weather's nice today, isn't it?"  Notice the following:

  1. They drank coffee and made small talk.
  2. I'm not good at making small talk.

delve into your personal life


They don't delve into your personal life.

When we 'delve into' something, that means we try to learn more information.  Notice the following:

  1. During the interview, they began to delve into his personal life.
  2. While making small talk, I rarely delve into anyone's personal life.

city of immigrants


New York City is a city of immigrants.

'Immigrants' are people who move to another country to live and work. Often these people become citizens of the new country.  Notice the following:

  1. America is actually a country of immigrants.
  2. He was born in a city of immigrants.

Vocabulary Quiz

absorbed • blunt • small talk
delve • immigrants
  1. We aren't very close.  All we ever say is just .
  2. Now, let's into the problem here.
  3. She was so in her book that she didn't even hear him come home.
  4. Life can be very difficult for in the United States.
  5. He is so when he speaks that some people think he is rude.
Answer the following questions about the interview.


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