Tokyo is a big city. I mean really big. Depending on how you count, there are between thirteen and thirty million people living here. And it can be fairly compact so you would have thought that finding somewhere to live would be relatively straightforward. Well, yes and no. Finding a house or apartment you like can be simple, but knowing whether your new dwelling is in a gaijin friendly location is almost impossible for the newcomer to asses.
The difference between areas can be crucial to the quality of life for a family recently relocated to Japan. Although all areas are essentially safe, certain areas are simply not set up to support the requirements of a foreigner. It's not that people will be unfriendly or hostile to a new face, they simply won't understand. The necessary life support systems exist in parts of Tokyo and but are non-existent in others. And the real estate agent may not bring you up to speed on this.
The east side of the city has incredible charm but is simply not designed for newcomers or even many old hands. The areas that are foreigner friendly, from the perspective of daily life and support infrastructure, are generally on the west side of the city. Take a pizza slice from Meguro to Yoyogi and into the centre as far as Akasaka and you'll have an incredible array of options and services designed for, and experienced with, foreigners. And there may even be some English.