Yes, there is still the impression everywhere that "Tokyo is so expensive". Maybe as a tourist it can be, in Ginza or the high-class hotels, but when you live there and know where to go.....bit like everywhere else in the world I suppose!
I must admit though, when we first got there in 1996, fresh from the UK, going for a beer in the pub and a pint was £7.50 was a bit of a shocker!
Taxes in Japan
You can see the tax is low for low to mid-income earners but ratchets up nastily. You pay the National, Prefecture & Municipal rates which sum to 50%. I believe pension and health-care contributions are on top of those but I'm not too sure as I was enrolled in alternative schemes.
So if you are in the higher bands, even with absurd property prices Hong Kong is better financially. However, if you are in the lower bands then the tax regimes are less dissimilar and you can live in a nice place in Tokyo for a lot less than here.
Yes, one of the several reasons we had to leave was the tax rate, particularly as you are taxed globally after you have been there for 5 years. We will be getting some of the extra contributions back, which is a result as we thought that as we'd left we'd lose them
Hmm nasty tax system indeed (for the top bracket I mean)