Monocle Magazine has published its list of the 25 most liveable cities in the world. The rankings are part reader survey, part editorial discretion. They represent cities that have acheived just the right combination of "shops and services within walking distance, a good transport interchange within close proximity, green space as part of their residence, a good park with a body of water for a refreshing plunge nearby, independent businesses as a key feature of the community, a sense of security (police on the beat or a Japanese-style police box in their neighbourhood), excellent coffee (Melbourne’s Fitzroy and St Kilda and Sydney’s Potts Point frequently came up as neighbourhoods that had the ideal mix of restaurants, caf├ęs and street life) and finally a little bit of grit and surprise."

It may be a surprise to some that Tokyo was ranked third on the list, but I wholeheartedly agree with that assesment. Since it's one of the largest cities in the world, one would have the tendency to assume that there are a lot of things wrong with it-- dirty, run-down, crowded architecture, horrible traffic, drug problems, or crime. And although Tokyo has it's fair share of megalopolis problems, as far as the living goes, the getting is pretty good.
There's a huge variety of independent restaurants, bars, shops, art galleries, and clubs open at all hours of the night and within walking distance. One only ever need return home to shower and change clothes. Notice I didn't say "sleep" because you see all manner of Tokyo-ites sleeping in the oddest places-- from the suit-clad salary man sleeping on the steps of the train station to fashion-victim ikemen cuddled up together in the doorways of music clubs.
Each neighborhood has its own distinct flavor, such that one need only walk 20 minutes in any direction to experience a culture shift and find some kind of "scene" to become utterly fascinated by.

If I have any gripes about Tokyo, it would be the sense of human disconnect and that odd open-sewer smell that seems to waft about in random pedestrian areas. But that's nothing that can't be fixed by establishing a close circle of friends and developing controlled breathing techniques.

And Tokyo is one of the best places in the world to people watch. In fact, I'd venture to say it is THE best place in the world. For entertainment, you need nothing more than a pair of eyes and a place to sit. Pick a crowded street or intersection, then watch with glee as the parade of fashionistas, fashion-victims, perverts, schoolgirls, weirdos, freaks, punks, crazy homeless people, empty-eyed salary men, couples, princesses, lolitas, b-boy wannabees, confused tourists, harrassing sex-work recruiters, sex workers themselves, drag queens, drag kings, idol hopefuls carrying karaoke machines singing covers of pop standards, geeks, otaku, yakuza, drunken old men, hunch-backed grandmas, and prima donas with little dogs in purses stroll on by.

Although I wasn't suprised to see Tokyo on the list, I WAS surprised that the top-ranked American city was Honolulu, ranked 12th. Because it's such a HUGE tourist destination, I guess I thought Honolulu couldn't possibly be that great.

But for me, the biggest surprise was that the next-highest ranked American city was Minneapolis, ranked 19th. I've never been to Minneapolis. It's just not one of the first places that comes to mind when I think of American cities I'd like to visit. But I guess I should be checking it out.

The List:

1. Copenhagen
2. Munich
3. Tokyo
4. Zurich
5. Helsinki
6. Vienna
7. Stockholm
8. Vancouver
9. Melbourne
10. Paris

11. Sydney
12. Honolulu
13. Madrid
14. Berlin
15. Barcelona
16. Montreal
17. Fukuoka
18. Amsterdam
19. Minneapolis
20. Kyoto

Runner's Up
21. Hamburg
22. Singapore
24. Lisbon
25. Portland.

View the entire article here.

via Monocle