Masaaki Tsuge/Melbourne Branch, Marubeni Australia, Ltd.
With a ratio of cold seasons to warm seasons of about seven to five, Melbourne is situated at about the same latitude as Niigata City, but Melbourne is warm compared to Niigata, and it hardly ever snows here. Although there are some days in summer with temperatures upwards of 40 degrees Celsius, the humidity is low, so it doesn’t feel muggy like Japan.
Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia, after Sydney—with a current population of some four million—and the rise in population here is surging, with particularly salient increases in Middle and Near Eastern, Chinese, South Korean, and South East Asian immigration. As Aussies also have a heritage of immigration from European countries, this society is a veritable melting pot. Some 12,000 Japanese live in Melbourne just shy of half the number in Sydney.
The city of Melbourne has a singular character, with a fusion of old-fashioned as well as modern architecture in its entertainment and business districts, and with horse drawn carriages for tourists ambling, and trams running, right alongside the vehicles on the street.
The cost of living in Melbourne is extremely high. Items at convenience stores cost two or three times what the same items cost in Japan, prices for disposable lighters and cigarettes are three times higher than in Japan, and in terms of real estate, you can see million dollar homes lined up one after the other. This cost of living seems especially dear for those who are familiar with Japan, with its price reductions on everything and anything.
In a country with few domestic vehicles, it is not surprising to see a lot of imported cars. In Melbourne, however, luxury cars such as BMW and Mercedes Benz are run of the mill, and ultra luxury cars that we nearly never see in Tokyo—such as Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche, and the like—are a common sight as well.
The quintessential Australian sport is Australian Rules Football, with a professional league in which teams of 18 members compete in matches held from fall to spring. The VIP rooms at the stadiums are also used as arenas for business, and frequently people turn their attention away from the match—beer in hand—toward business discussions. Melbourne also hosts nearly every kind of major event—including F1 auto racing, horse racing, tennis, golf, and the like—and you can see stars such as Tiger Woods and Maria Sharapova as well.
Melbourne is a safe city, with numerous parks in its suburbs, an excellent environment to raise children, and an all around family friendly place to live. If only there were some delicious ramen shops and beef bowl restaurants, the place would be perfect!