I'm taking a trip to Japan in a couple months, and my researching and planning has raised this question in my mind.
What makes some cities (or larger geographic areas) such incredibly expensive places to live and travel? Maybe Japan is an exception, because it seems like everything is pretty expensive--for example, rail transportation and food, not just real estate. I know that expenses like rent are driven up due to demand, etc, but what are other factors that can contribute to a certain place being, over all, an expensive place to be?
Maybe this question doesn't make any sense. If anyone has thoughts or experiences to share about Japan specfiically (it's a small country and an island, and maybe that is a big factor?) that would be an interesting starting place.