Write this a while ago but didn't find a chance to post it yet.
Japan has no soul? That can’t be true! In the context that my friend and I were speaking, we were talking about cities, Tokyo specifically. My buddy tells me that there’s something missing in Tokyo, something inexplicable that other cities like Hong Kong and London do have, but Tokyo doesn’t. What is it? Is it soul? Do you notice this about the city as well? My friend and I both lived near Tokyo for a while. He lives in London right now and I’ve visited London, but only a little. To me, the city that has something missing is London. Rather than talking about concrete stuff like convenience stores, bars or public transportation, we’re talking about the general feel. For me, it’s the mood you get when walking through the city. In London I'm only just starting to feel at home. In Tokyo I feel at home already. Relaxed. At peace. It’s a safe place. I did get this vibe from London at some places, but there's just so much differences between a European city and a Japanese city. The things we did in Tokyo are things that one wouldn't even consider doing in London. It’s just ‘not done’ in Europe to experience a city in the same way as we did Tokyo. That, for me, is what I like about Tokyo.
Counterpoint: a city like London has more character. I talked to a guy who lived in London for 5 years then moved to Amsterdam. He prefers Amsterdam now, says it’s nicer to go out in Amsterdam. Using this person and my experiences of London and Amsterdam as a calibration, I guess I can see, or rather ‘feel’, how one could describe a city to have soul. It’s a very difficult quality to describe though. I can imagine that there is a certain quality that cities like London and Amsterdam have, and that Tokyo lacks. But I can’t pinpoint it. But since we’re being vague, there’s also a lot of vague undescribable things about Tokyo that London and Amsterdam lack. I’d tell you what they were but I can’t describe them. Hah!