Japan’s largest city: Tokyo

Japanese cities by population

Japan is a very unusual country, largely due to its location. It is an island country, surrounded on all sides by the ocean. It is located on the Japanese archipelago, consisting of 6852 islands. People are settled on four of them: Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku. These are very densely populated areas. The population of Japan is 126,000,000 people. It is the 10th largest in the world. The remoteness from the mainland greatly affects the life of the Japanese. They live somewhat isolated from other countries. Japanese citizens rarely immigrate anywhere, staying within the country. On the other hand, the country does not experience an influx of migrants. This is the reason for the homogeneity of Japanese society. Another important factor influencing the overcrowding of Japanese cities is the peculiarity of the landscape. A large part of the country is occupied by mountains. There are extinct and active volcanoes on many of the islands, so it is not possible to live in this area. For the same reason there is a shortage of land for housing and agricultural development. Therefore, most of the population (about 90%) is concentrated in metropolitan areas.

Top 10 most populous Japanese cities

  1. Tokyo: 13,742,000.
  2. Yokohama: 3,700,000.
  3. Osaka: 2,668,000.
  4. Nagoya: 2,283,000.
  5. Sapporo: 1,918,000.
  6. Kobe: 1,530,000.
  7. Kyoto: 1,474,000.
  8. Fukuoka: 1,430,000.
  9. Kawasaki: 1,373,000.
  10. Saitama: 1 192 000.

Tokyo – acute overpopulation problem

Tokyo is the most populous metropolis in Japan, far ahead of all other cities in the country. It is the capital of the island nation, its financial and political center. Its population, together with its suburbs, is approximately 30,000,000 people. It is the largest urban agglomeration in Japan. The population density is 6,279 people/square kilometer, which is the highest in the country.

Tokyo consists of 23 districts, which are separate municipalities with their own administration. In terms of status, they are equated with ordinary cities. The most densely populated areas are the districts:

Overcrowding creates a housing shortage problem. For this reason, the Tokyo authorities have intensified the construction of artificial islands. Tokyo is the main economic center of the country. People from all over Japan flock here, wanting to find decent jobs. This is the main reason for the rapid urbanization of the metropolis. Many giant corporations, banks, industrial enterprises are concentrated here. Most of the information and service organizations are concentrated in the Tokyo area.

In addition to the fact that about 13 million people permanently live in the city, about 2-2.5 million more come here every morning to study or work from the nearest suburbs. In the evening, these people drive back home. Because of this, Tokyo’s transportation is under tremendous strain. The metropolis has a well-developed transport network. Tokyo has many expressways in and around the city. However, traffic jams on the streets are not uncommon during rush hours. Exhaust fumes from cars create an additional pollution problem. The other main mode of transportation is trains. In addition to conventional trains, there are high-speed trains – shinkansen. In addition, there is the subway, which has a highly branched network. But even this is not enough to move such a huge number of citizens. Crowding and crowding in the Tokyo subway cars in the morning and evening hours is a normal phenomenon.

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The housing problem is especially acute, and the authorities are trying to solve it by building high-rise skyscrapers. Tokyo’s overcrowding is connected with the peculiarities of the architecture of the houses. You have to save on every square meter of housing. Typical Tokyo apartments are very small. A small kitchen can barely fit two people. The cooking stove can be in the closet. The bathroom area, where the sink, shower, and toilet are located, may be only 2 to 3 square meters. There are houses with an unusual layout, aimed at accommodating as many residents as possible. One example: a tower consisting of cubic living modules with an area of only 10 square meters. Such buildings are called capsule houses. There is a sleeping place, a closet and a shower cabin. All appliances are built-in, which makes the most efficient use of space.

Yokohama – a place of concentration of young people

Yokohama is the second most populous Japanese metropolis. It is the administrative center of Kanagawa Prefecture. It is the largest port city in Japan. Yokohama is strongly developed economically, thanks to shipping, biotechnology, and electronics industries. Here are the largest branches of trading, industrial enterprises of Japan. The area of the city is more than 400 sq. km. Just like Tokyo, it’s very densely populated.

Many young people stay here after graduating from higher educational institutions and find a job. There is a prestigious university in Yokohama which gives high quality education. It has a high position in the ranking of international universities. Specialists who graduated from it are valued not only in the country, but also abroad. Also people from nearby communities come here every day to work. Yokohama is a very modern and cosmopolitan city. So it attracts young people who not only want to make a career, but also to express themselves. Yokohama, just like Tokyo, has autobahns, high-speed trains, and subways. Although there are fewer inhabitants here, the average density is also very high. So traffic jams are not uncommon on the roads, and the subway can be crowded. It is better to reserve tables in restaurants in advance, because in the evening you may not find free seats. The transport problem is aggravated by tourists, a large number of whom arrive all year round from all over the world. Yokohama also has artificially created embankment areas. The coastal areas are actively being developed, and the territory of the seaport has significantly expanded. The port of Yokohama is the largest maritime hub in Japan.

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Japan’s largest city: Tokyo

Japanese cities

Japan’s major cities

There are many settlements in the country, each with unique characteristics. If you know the differences of Japanese cities, it is possible to make an impression of the state.


Japan’s capital city. It is characterized by a small area when measured by the prefectures. However, the main city is recognized as the most populous. As of August 1, 2021, 14,043,239 people live in Tokyo. (https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A2%D0%BE%D0%BA%D0%B8%D0%BE)

The city is notable for the following characteristics:

  • Old temples and modern buildings are close together;
  • pedestrian streets are suddenly replaced by highways;
  • The shopping districts are home to numerous boutiques of international brands;
  • the complex layout of the neighborhoods;
  • confusing subway lines that seemingly aren’t connected to each other.

Locals and tourists are advised to be careful in Tokyo during peak hours.


The capital of Kanagawa Prefecture. It is located on the coast of Tokyo Bay. The city has a Chinatown and a futuristic business center. Attractions include:

  • temples;
  • Imperial palaces;
  • ancient huts made of natural wood.

Yokohama is a megalopolis, which combines old architecture and originality of modern buildings.

Japanese cities


Little remains of the city after World War II. Serious damage was done to historical monuments. In spite of this, it has been possible to rebuild the city by now. It includes the following districts:

  • Kitaku Business District. Attracts travelers Osaka Castle, skyscrapers.
  • Southern district. The arched bridge and Shitennoji Buddhist temple attract tourists.
  • Northern district. Here there are entertainment centers and stores. In addition, it was possible to recreate the American and European villages.

Thanks to the actions of the authorities managed to restore the city after the serious destruction.


This name has a meaning. Translated as “the middle capital”. The fact that Nagoya is located between the two major cities in Japan: Kyoto and Tokyo.

Tourists often come to Nagoya. Here travelers visit an ancient castle built according to established architectural principles. Atsuta Temple houses a sword symbolizing the imperial dynasty. If you go to the surrounding area, it is advisable to visit a theme park. Travelers remain satisfied with their time in this city.

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Located in the southwestern part of Hokkaido. In 1972, the Olympic Games were held here. The city is large, with up to a third of the island’s population living here. Winters are long and snowy, summers are warm and sunny. Tourists note the beauty of the architecture, enjoy walking around.

Japanese cities

The capital of Hego Prefecture and a major port in Japan. In the days when Europeans arrived in the country, they settled in Kobe. The city was erected at the turn of XX – XXI centuries after an earthquake. Attractions for tourists:

  • The residence of foreign merchants;
  • Museum of carpentry tools;
  • Meriken Park, where a monument to earthquake victims is located;
  • zoo.

Kobe’s striking revival is due to the sense of community and the determination of the residents. Entrepreneurs, authorities invested to rebuild the settlement.


The city previously held the status of the capital of Japan for a thousand years. Kyoto is unique: the ancient sights, modern entertainment centers, urban culture buildings. The following architectural objects attract tourists:

  • Gose Imperial Palace.
  • Pavilions. Kinkaku-ji deserves special attention of travelers. The sights are built in the national style.
  • Gardens of stones.
  • Pure Water Temple complex.
  • Katsura Rikyu Villa. There is a landscape park on the territory.

The city is located in the central part of Honshu Island. For many people Kyoto is synonymous with the traditional culture of Japan, because the residents still honor tradition.

Japanese cities


The city buildings are located on the two banks of the Nakagawa River. The river divides the city into two districts, with one being a commercial district and the other a business district. Even the defensive walls that protected the Japanese from the Mongols have been preserved to this day. The history of the city began in the 17th century, but over the centuries there have been major events that have influenced the city, the current situation.

Japan and China used to trade together. By the 21st century, only the ruins of the administrative buildings, which previously served their respective tasks in trade activities, remain. Given the peculiarities of industry in Fukuoka, tourists often buy silk fabrics and clay toys as gifts for themselves and their loved ones.

Today Fukuoka is the center of the prefecture of the same name, which is located in the northern part of Kyushu Island.


Represents the transportation hub of Kanagawa Prefecture. The city operates a port that ensures the flow of goods. As a result, Kawasaki is not only a popular city for tourists but also an important trading center. Ships are also built and repaired here.

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Kawasaki is located at the confluence of the Tama River and the Tokyo Bay of the Pacific Ocean, and the distance to Tokyo is 15 kilometers. It is this location that makes it important for trade activities. Kawasaki is actively supplied with raw materials that Japanese industrial enterprises need.

The city successfully operate enterprises, which determines the position of the center of industry (mechanical engineering, shipbuilding, petrochemical, metallurgical, automotive).

Tourists during trips necessarily see the national architecture, visit the Ethnographic Museum of Japanese homes, which operates directly under the open sky. It is also recommended to visit the Kabuki theater, visit museum centers to see ethnographic exhibits, historical photos, archaeological finds and even contemporary works of Japanese artists, sculptors.


Is the capital of the prefecture of the same name. The city’s rapid development began in the noughties. This was facilitated by the consolidation of three small settlements into one. Now the city has many museums, sports complexes and even the largest stadium in the whole of Japan.

Japanese cities

List of all cities in Japan

There are numerous settlements in the country. Most often people do not take into account the peculiarities of each city. However, a list of all existing cities of all sizes in Japan by alphabetical order is available to better understand the administrative structure of the country. Of course, the list of Japanese cities is general, but it allows you to find any settlement alphabetically. Then you can learn other features of the settlements, understand the differences between them, historical events and even the prospects for development. In alphabetical order is a detailed list of large and small cities in Japan, whose locals still honor tradition through their mentality, but also noted the rapid development of industry, technology.

Frequently Asked Questions

It is important to know the specifics of the territorial division of Japan in order to take into account the peculiarities of prefectures and cities. In any case, there are many localities with a large number of inhabitants in the country.

How many cities are there in Japan?

As of March 1, 2018, there are 791 cities in Japan. Including Tokyo’s 23 special districts, which have an administrative status similar to that of a city, the number rises to 814.

The local government legislation, which was enacted in 1947, is quite complex. Cities are not included in counties like towns and villages. They are subordinate specifically to prefectures. Settlements are entitled to city status if their population exceeds 50,000 people, but if this figure is lowered, the Japanese authorities will make the opposite decision. Large cities qualify for the following statuses:

  • special – more than 200 thousand people;
  • central – more than 300 thousand people;
  • cities defined by government decrees – more than 500,000.
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In Japan, cities at the legislative level are established taking into account the current government decrees on the basis of the Local Autonomy Law. In this case, there are large powers in urban planning, child protection, and education. Sometimes city formations have more influence and authority than prefectures. Previously, until 2020, in order to obtain the corresponding status, there was a special requirement: the population must be at least a million people.

Initially, five cities with appropriate status were approved, including Nagoya, Kyoto, Kobe, Osaka and Yokohama. This was due to the high concentration of population and the prosperity of trade and industry. Then Sapporo, Kitakyushu, Kawasaki, and Fukuoka were added.

The Japanese authorities understood the importance of decentralization by strengthening the administrative base of local governments, so a Special Law on Municipal Mergers was adopted. Financial incentives were provided to integrate local governments, and city size requirements were relaxed. This approach broadened the prospects for the development of localities in the country.

Japanese cities

What is the largest city in Japan in terms of population?

The largest Japanese city is Tokyo. It is home to 13 million people. Based on the size of the island nation’s capital with its suburbs, the population is up to 30 million people. The urban agglomeration is the largest. The population density is 6,279 people per square meter, recognized as the highest in Japan.

Tokyo comprises 23 districts that are separate municipalities. They have the same status as ordinary cities. The populated areas of Tokyo:

Overcrowding leads to the problem of a lack of residential facilities. Local authorities implement programs to build artificial islands. The city also builds high-rise skyscrapers: you have to save on every square meter. Typical apartments are characterized by a small area.

Tokyo is the economic center of the state. People from all over Japan come here for further employment. The factor leads to the urbanization of Tokyo. Corporations, banks, and industrial enterprises operate in the metropolis.

Yokohama (3,689,603 people), Osaka (2,666,371) are also in the top 3 in terms of population. In Japan there are 12 cities with population more than 1 million.

Each city is unique: history, architecture, development prospects and attitude to traditions. This makes the country attractive to many foreigners who want to understand the differences of Japan.

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