Japan’s Top 20 Cities

Japan has hundreds of large cities and thousands of small cities. The vast majority of Japan’s attractions are found in highly urbanized areas. In this article, we will see a list of the main cities in Japan.

In these large cities in Japan you will find castles, temples, shrines, gardens and other peaceful places. In this list we will see 20 major cities that attract tourists from the country and the whole world every year.

Tokyo [東京] - The capital of Japan

Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world. It is a financial, political and cultural capital that is large, dense and interesting. You could spend your entire life exploring Tokyo, which is not yet going to know all that this city has to offer.

Tokyo Attractions

Kyoto [京都市] - The old capital

Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over 1000 years. The city was shaped by this period and is filled with hundreds of temples, shrines, castles and historic sites.

The years of capital also gave Kyoto a certain sophistication that became its defining characteristic. Food, fashion, arts and cultural practices like the tea ceremony helps to make Kyoto one of the top destinations in the world.

Kyoto Attractions

Sapporo [札幌] - Northern Japan

Sapporo is one of the largest cities in Japan and the capital of the North of the country Hokkaido. The city has more than 2 million and is located in the cold part of the country where the annual snowfall reaches 6 meters or 19 feet.

a very popular destination for snowboarding, food, events and entertainment. For over 20 years, flights from Tokyo to Sapporo have been the busiest route in the world, with 7.5 million people flying each year.


Osaka [大阪府] - Tokyo’s great rival

Osaka is the second largest city in Japan. It is a historic and commercial city and this has shaped a unique personality in the city. While the population of Tokyo is shy and reserved, the people of Osaka are outgoing and direct.

 The city is full of shops and is home to many of Japan's largest companies. It is also a lively city known for its gastronomy and nightlife. I personally prefer Osaka to Tokyo.


Yokohama [横浜] - The neighboring city of Tokyo

Yokohama is a city located south of Tokyo and has 3.6 million inhabitants. The city has an attractive area full of museums, parks, restaurants, shops and interesting architecture. 

A seaside town and historic area full of old western-style buildings. Here you find the famous Minato Mirai and other highlights that need to be in your travel itinerary.

20 things to do in yokohama

Nara [奈良] - The city of deer

Nara is a city near Kyoto, and was once the capital of Japan between the years 710 to 784. In many ways, the city is still frozen in the 8th century, with a huge number of temples and historic sites that date back to that time.

Nara's temples are large and impressive. They are worthy of an ancient capital and represent the sophistication and the beginning of Japanese culture. One of the things that stands out in Nara is the huge amount of deer meek living on the streets and attracting tourists.


Naha [那覇] - Capital of Okinawa

At Okinawa Islands located in the south of the country has a unique and rich culture. Naha, capital of Okinawa, has a tropical environment to enjoy the beaches and the sea. The city is full of interesting and small restaurants, bars and attractions.

Okinawa as well as Hokkaido are one of the main attractions from the country. Those who want to enjoy the warmth and crystal clear beaches should head to Okinawa.

Japan’s Top 20 Cities

Hiroshima [広島] - The rebuilt city

Hiroshima has a black history as the first city attacked with a nuclear weapon, an event that claimed the lives of 90,000-166,000 people and launched the world into the nuclear era.

Hiroshima is currently a lively city with more than one million inhabitants. The city is also close to Itsukushima Shrine, one of Japan's main attractions.

Nuclear bombing is remembered in an excellent Peace Memorial Park. The anniversary of the bombing is marked each year with a nagashi torus ceremony. In Hiroshima you will also find the city's famous castle.

Hiroshima lantern ceremony

Fukuoka [福岡] - The largest city in Kyushu

Fukuoka is the largest city in Kyushu, one of the large islands that make up Japan. The city has more than one and a half million inhabitants with a lot of tourism to offer in the region. An indispensable city for visitors to Kyushu.

Fukuoka was selected as one of the 10 “Most Dynamic Cities” in the July 2016 edition of Newsweek. Fukuoka receives more than 2 million foreign visitors annually, with a large part coming from its neighboring countries.


Kobe [神戸] - The cosmopolitan city

Kobe is a cosmopolitan city of 1.5 million inhabitants with a high quality of life close to Kyoto and Osaka. The three cities together represent a metropolitan area of 18 million people known as the Keihanshin region.

Kobe is considered an important economic center in the country, and holds one of the largest ports in Japan and the world. The city is also well known for its thriving urban surroundings, where its landscape is highlighted by Mount Rokko. 


Kagoshima [鹿児島] - The city of the volcano

The city of 600,000 inhabitants near the southernmost tip of Japan's main islands. Kagoshima has a active volcano in its bay known as Sakurajima which regularly erupts.

In addition to the volcano you can visit Sengan-en park, amu plaza, tenmonkan, Shiroyama observatory and others. At the end of the day you can relax at Sakurajima Nagisa's foot spa park.


Himeji [姫路] - The famous castle

A large industrial city located in Kansai that is known for its famous Himeji Castle, widely considered the best castle in Japan. A large original castle with 83 buildings that has a very interesting history.

 As with any good castle, it is surrounded by myths and ghost stories. The city has about 400,000 inhabitants and is close to the Kobe and Osaka regions.


Kanazawa [金沢] - Surviving city

Kanazawa was one of the few large Japanese cities that escaped destruction in World War II. The city is full of historic attractions, such as temples, castles, geisha districts and old houses of the original samurai. 

It is also home to Kenrokuen, considered one of the best gardens in Japan. The city's modern railway station, Kanazawa Station, has a distinctive architecture that adapts well to the city.


Nagasaki [長崎] - The second bomb

Nagasaki is a city with about 450,000 inhabitants on Kyushu Island, which is relatively close to the Asian continent. The city has a long history of exchanges international, even at times when Japan was cut off from the world.

English, Dutch and Chinese influences can be seen in architecture, festivals, food and daily life. The atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 claimed the lives of up to 80,000 people and resulted in the destruction of much of the city. As well as Hiroshima, the city has a world peace park and a museum.


Nagoya [名古屋] - One of the largest in Japan

Nagoya is a gigantic industrial power that has worked hard to become a cultural center. Your dining options, entertainment and nightlife are strong. The city has done much to improve its quality of life and its industrial roots.

Nagoya is among the largest cities in Japan and has a good number of Brazilians. In this beautiful city you will find the famous Nagoya castle and many prominent tourist spots approaching Tokyo and Osaka.


Hakodate [函館] - a hokkaido highlight

The third largest city in Hokkaido with an interesting history. Hakodate was one of the first doors opened to the west in 1859. As a result, the city is full of old western houses, churches and warehouses.

It is a city frozen in time that looks like 1800's America. Hakodate has several popular attractions, like the famous Goryokaku, a fortress that has a star-shaped moat.


Kurashiki [倉敷] - The beautiful channel

A city of half a million people that is known for its 17th century warehouses that is located beside a pleasant canal. Both old and new parts of Kurashiki are attractive.

The city is one of the starting points of the great Seto bridge that connects the main island of Japan with Shikoku Island. The city has almost half a million inhabitants and is part of Okayama Prefecture.


Nagano [長野] - The city of mountains

Nagano is a city surrounded by mountains with geographical features that make it a natural fortress. This has resulted in a long history of battles in the area. In World War II, a huge underground bunker was built in Nagano but was never used.

The city of Nagano hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics and is surrounded by excellent ski runs. It is a pleasant city, with several famous historical sites, such as Zenkoji, a seventh century temple.

The mountains surrounding Nagano Prefecture are famous and known as the Japanese Alps. Those who like adventure should visit this region and explore its mountains for a long time.

Nagano City

Okayama [岡山] - The city of momotaro

Okayama is a southern city with more than 700,000 inhabitants, the city is known for its black castle and Korakuen, considered one of the best gardens in Japan. The city is close to Kibi Plain, an area full of temples that is usually explored from bicycle.

Okayama is the fictional home of Momotaro, one of Japan's most famous legends about a boy born from a peach who goes out to fight demons on an island with the help of a dog, monkey and a pheasant.

Japan’s Top 20 Cities

Matsumoto [松本] - A castle in Nagano

Matsumoto is a city in Nagano known for Matsumoto Castle, a picturesque castle. I think the photo below explains everything. and like other cities, it is full of attractions, culture and local cuisine.


I hope you enjoyed this article with the main and best cities in Japan. If you did, don't forget to share and leave your comments. Thank you and see you next time!

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