The 20 Best Places to Live in Japan

Japan

Japan is a beautiful eastern Asian island nation in the Pacific Ocean. The country is made up of 6,852 islands. Japan has a long cultural history. With its temperate climate, majestic mountains, beach fronts and fertile plains, the country is a popular destination for tourists, but what cities are the best to live in? Japan has one of the densest populations in the world. Yet its larger cities are known for their cleanliness, good economy, beautiful architecture, cultural attractions, good cuisine, green space and exciting shopping, dining and entertainment. Some Japanese enjoy living in the larger cities but many prefer the smaller cities that are more family friendly less expensive, more shopping conveniences and plenty of places to enjoy the beautiful nature of the island country. Many Japanese cities have the best of both worlds where one can find peace, tranquility, convenience and still be just a train ride to a larger city.

Okinawa

20. Okinawa City

Okinawa City is located in Okinawa Island and away from the bigger cities of Japan. It still has a large population of about 140,000, but it’s still a great place to live. Okinawa City was developed as an agricultural town. After World War II’s Battle of Okinawa, the United States of America occupied the city. Okinawa has a history of social justice and is famous for its 1970’s riots. The city is a good place to live. Residents enjoy the Southeast Botanical Gardens and the National Sports Festival of Japan.

Okayama

19. Okayama

Okayama is an agricultural and industrial and the capital of Okayama Prefecture located on western Honshu, Japan’s largest island. Okayama has been a large agricultural industry since it was founded in 1889. Crops that grow abundently in the region include rice, chives, eggplant, grapes and white peaches. Okayama also thrives with machine tools, chemical and printing industries. Okayama is best known for its private English language schools, but is also home to Okayama Castle, one of the best of Japan’s castles. The city has several thriving shopping arcades which families enjoy. It’s also the setting for the Japanese fable, “Momotaro”.

Sapporo

18. Sapporo

One of Japan’s largest cities, Sapporo is best known for its beer factory. It’s economy also includes industry, manufacturing, technology, retail and tourism. Sapporo is located on Japan’s Hokkaido Island along the Toyohira River and the Ishikara Plains. This beautiful city has many parks, museums and shrines. Sapporo is a great city to enjoy winter sports and even hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics. Sapporo hosts several winter events including the Sapporo Snow Festival which attracts millions of visitors each year. Sapporo also hosted 3 FIFA World Cups.

Japanese Garden

17. Nagoya

Nagoya means “peaceful” and that is why people choose to live there. Located on the Pacific Coast in the Chubu Region of Japan, Nagoya is known as a center of economic and political development. The city’s Nagoya Castle was built in the seventeenth century and developed with industrialization in the nineteenth century. Despite suffering from World War II air raids,, Nagoya recovered following the war. Its fertile Isa Bay and Nobi plain help produce vegetation. Nagoyo is known for its festivals, theater, and museums. It is home to arts and crafts company, Ando Cloisonne, and confectionary company, Marukowa. Nagoya’s economy thrives with aviation, technology, ceramic and retail companies.

Yokohama

16. Yokohama

Yokohama is a nineteenth century port city that was occupied by the American’s following World War II and through the Korean War. Yokohama has become a great place to live in Japan. Despite a dense population, the city in the Kanto region of Honshu has a great economy and is well known as a sporting venue. Yokohama’s economy thrives on shipping, bio technology companies and the semi conductor industry. The city is home to Nissan’s headquarters. The city is known as the “horizontal beach” and is home to the Yokohoma Landmark Tower which was built in 1993. Yokohoma hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup and is home to many sports clubs.

15. Osaka

Established in 1869 Osaka serves as one of Japan’s major economic hubs. It’s also a great place to live despite cost of living and population density. The capital of Osaka Prefecture is a regional port city that grew during nineteenth century industrialization. The city is known for its sake made with fresh mountain water. It’s also known for its summer festivals, museums, galleries, symphonies and theater. There is plenty of opportunity for fine dining, shopping and entertainment. Osaka has a great culinary scene as well as sporting events.

Japan

14. Kyoto

Kyoto is a densely populated city on Japan’s largest Honshu Island, but it’s also a popular city to live in and to visit. As a former Imperial capital, Kyoto is rich in history. It’s also a beautiful city with national public gardens filled with greenery and ponds. The city has beautiful architecture including the Monument to Ancient Kyoto as well as 1,600 Buddhist Temples and 400 Shinto Shrines. Kyoto also has the beautiful “Philosopher’s Walk” which meanders along old streets and canals. Kyoto has a wonderful culinary scene and is home to some of the best sakes made in Japan. Kyoto is home to Japan’s television and film industry as well as several IT companies including Nichon and Nintendo. The city is also known for its good public transportation.

Kobe

13. Kobe

Kobe is one of Japan’s largest city’s and is best known for its Kobe Beef that is raised in the surrounding Hyogo Prefecture. Kobe is located on Japan’s largest island, Honshu and borders Osaka Bay. Kobe is just 30 miles from Osaka. Kobe has two man made island as well as Mount Rokko and Mount Maya. The city is long and narrow winding its way between mountains and coast. Kobe was bombed in two World War II raids. In 1975 residents initiated the “Kobe Formula”, banning any vessels from carrying nuclear weapons. In 1975 Kobe suffered a major earthquake but quickly rebuilt. Today Kobe is considered the “Paris of Japan” for its fashion scene. It’s also known for its Kobe Port Tower and promenade with a ferris wheel and the Armima Onsen hot springs. The city also has a vibrant shopping, dining and club scene.

Tokyo

12. Tokyo

Tokyo is one of the most populous cities in the world and a major international economic center. It’s also known for its attractions and cleanliness. Despite its dense population and expensive cost of living, many choose to live in Tokyo. Tokyo is located along the northwest coast of Tokyo Bay in the western mountains and includes 2 island chains, Ogasawara and Izu. Tokyo is home to over 50 Fortune 500 global companies. It will host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games. The Shibuya Scramble Intersection may be one of the most recognized intersections in pop culture along with New York City’s Times Square. Although mostly a modern city after being rebuilt after a devistating 1923 earthquake and World War II, Tokyo maintains some historic architecture. The city may be expensive and crowded, but it’s also very livable. Many prefer to live in the suburbs, but Tokyo has plenty to offer residents and visitors.

Japanese Tea Garden

11. Hiroshima City

Hiroshima City is most remembered for the atomic bomb dropped on the city toward the end of World War II. Approximately 100,000 residents lost their lives and much of the city was destroyed. Hiroshima City was almost completely rebuilt and has developed economically and culturally. Many Japanese are proud to call Hiroshima City their home. The city is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture and it’s one of the largest cities on Japan’s largest island, Hanshu. Originally a small fishing village, Hiroshima developed as a castle town and flourished during the nineteenth century industrialization period. Today the city is popular for The Hiroshima Peace Memorial located in Hiroshima Peace Park, Senko-ji Temple, Mitaki-dera Temple and Hiroshima Gogoku Shrine. Hiroshima City has a great culinary scene as well as museums and symphony orchestras. The city is also home to an amazing annual flower festival.

Kagoshima

10. Kagoshima

Kagoshima is known as the “Naples of the Eastern World”. Located on Kyushu Island, it is the capital of Kagoshima Prefecture. The city on the Aira Caldero Bay has a warm climate, beautiful beaches and a vibrant culinary scene. Kagoshima has vies of Sakurajima and is home to the Shauseikan Museum which was founded in 1865. It is also host to the Sengan-en Garden, an aquarium and “Dolphin Port” with great shopping malls. Kagoshima hosts several festivals. It’s a perfect place to live and a perfect place to visit.

Japan

9. Nihama

Nihama is a beautiful Japanese port town located in Enhime Prefecture and known for its tourism. Established in 1937, Nihama has a population of 120,000. It’s home to mountains with waterfalls running down them. Tourists are attracted to Nihama’s science museum and planetarium, the Zuio-ji Temple and especially Nihama’s annual “The Man Festival” and “Taiko Festival”. Nihama is home to the Besshi Copper Mine which Sumitoma Corporation runs. It’s also the home of Otedama nokai, Japan’s national juggling association.

Moriya

8. Moriya

Moriya is a beautiful Japanese city that’s close to the big city of Tokyo. Its just 35 km to Tokyo and is a small town with a population of just 65,000. Located in the southwest of Ibaraki Prefecture, Moriya is home to 3 rivers, Kinugawa, Tone and Kakaigawa. Moriya is a quiet community that developed as a castle town. It’s most famous landmark is Moriya Castle. Moriya has a good economy with its several industrial parks. Great public transportation makes it easy for residents to visit Tokyo for entertainment and work.

Ikoma

7. Ikoma

Ikoma is a suburb of Nara in the Nara Prefecture and was founded and developed in 1971. Popular attractions include the Skyland Ikoma amusement park, Kurando-ike pond and Kurando-tage pass. There’s also gardens and temples and beautiful views of Mount Ikoma. The city is filled with cherry blossom trees. Ikoma is a center for making Chasen. Chasen includes all types of decorative tea acessories including bowls, cups, caddies, scoops and whisks.

Japan

6. Fukuoka

Fukuoka is the capital of Fukuoka Prefecture. It’s located on the north shore of Kyushu Island. Despite its large population, Fukuoka is a great place to live. It was built up as a port city and was officially designed in 1972. It’s ports help with the economy and bring in cruise ships and tourists. Tourists and residents enjoy Fukuoka Castle, a zoo, galleries, gardens and beaches. Fukuoka has several companies that service and support start up companies. There are many international students in Fukuoka. The city has a great culinary cuisine that specializes in food like spicy cod roe and pork stock ramen.

Matsuyama

5. Matsuyama

Masuyamhas a is a port town located in the northeast of Ehime Prefecture. Matsuyama means “Pine Mountain” and it was originally founded in 1894. The city has a laid back atmosphere, perfect for those who want to avoid the bigger cities of Japan. Matsuyama has one of Japan’s oldest hot springs where bath houses were built in 1894. The city also grows good citrus fruits. The city is known for its tarts made with jams and Dango made with red bean paste. Matsuyama’s economy is mostly based on confections, retail, tourism, and boiler and tractor manufacturing. Fuji and Daiki have their headquarters here. Residents and tourists enjoy Matsuyama Castle, museums and temples.

Japanese Friendship Garden

4. Mitaka City

Mitaka City is a western port town and a suburb of Tokyo. Like many of Tokyo’s suburbs, Mitaka City is a quiet bedroom community that’s easy to commute from. The city has several attractions including the Tamagawa Josui Canal and Japan’s National Astronomical Observitory. Mitaka City also has a good economic basis and is home to the headquarters of several animation studios including Pierrot and Talecom Animation Firm. It’s also the home to Subaru Teanica International’s headquarters.

Nishinomiya

3. Nishinomiya

Nishinomiya is a great place to live because of its beauty, economy, university and professional sports. Located in Hyogo Prefecture, Nishinomiya has Mount Kabuto to the north and Osaka Bay to the south. The Mukogawa and Nigawa Rivers run through the town. Nishinomiya is home to Kwansei Gakwin University that was founded by American missionaries in the nineteenth century. It’s home to Koshien Stadium, the home of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team and where Japan’s high school baseball championships are played. The city has a good economy and is home to medical and marine equipment company Furuno’s headquarters.

Inagi City

2. Inagi City

A suburb of Tokyo, Inagi City has the best of both worlds. This bedroom community is located south of Tokyo. It has a good economy, a women’s university team, an amusement park and a good economy. Inagi City has a population of 87,000 so its less dense than Tokyo. Founded in 1889 the city has developed economically and culturally. It’s the home of one of Japan’s leading women’s football teams. It’s also home to Yomiuriland Amusement Park. Paper manufacturer, Nippon Filcon, has its headquarters in Inagi City. Public trains make it easy to take a trip into Tokyo if you’re looking for more exciting nightlife.

Fujisawa Seaside

1. Fujisawa

Not far from Inagi City is Fujisawa, a city that many Japanese agree is the best city in the country to live. Fujisawa is a coastal town in Kanagawa Prefecture with beaches and views of Mount Fuji. The city includes Enoshima Island. It’s a beach town with a laid back vibe. Fijisawa has plenty of beautiful places to relax and enjoy nature. It’s also a city filled with history and local legends of princesses and dragons. The best part about living in majestic and tranquil Fujisawa is that its just a 30 minute train ride to Tokyo.


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