Tokyo is Japan’s most important city

Top 10 Cities in Japan

Tokyo is the largest city in Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan. In terms of area it is small: by its size Tokyo is on the 45th place out of 47 prefectures of Japan. Despite this, Tokyo is the most populous city in Japan. It serves as the political and economic center of the country, and the most important national institutions are located here, such as the royal palace and the Parliament building.

Diversity is the main attraction of Tokyo. Tokyo is a modern city with diverse infrastructure. On the other hand there are many old business centers and even markets that are worth a separate tour. There are many places in this city that are popular with young people, such as Harajuku Takeshita-dori and Shibuya Street. There are also places popular with the elderly, notably Sugamo.

Tokyo has a huge number of train stations, and it is very convenient to travel by train in this city, especially for sightseeing. For example, such interesting places in Tokyo as Sensoji Temple in Asakusa and Ameyokoto Street in Ueno are most convenient to get to by train – the temple and market street are only a 5-minute walk from Asakusa and Ueno stations respectively. In addition, there are always plenty of stores and restaurants near the stations. So even if you come out at a station you’ve never heard of, you’re sure to find something interesting nearby or you can go to some stores.


2. Osaka

Osaka is a city located in the heart of the Kinki region. Osaka has long been home to a large market, and that’s why this city is nicknamed the “kitchen of the world.” All kinds of businesses flourished in this city, especially restaurants and cafes. Osaka is also where such popular Japanese flour dishes as okonomiyaki and takoyaki originated. Many foreigners live in Osaka, and at Korea Town in Tsuruhashi, you can enjoy authentic Korean food and feel as if you are in Korea.

Osaka, with its unique culture, is also the second largest city in Japan after Tokyo. Osaka is full of tourist attractions, countless restaurants and drinking establishments, especially in Umeda, Nanba, and Shinsakai (the business center of the new world). Osaka is home to one of the three ruler’s castles, as well as Universal Studios Amusement Park, the Kaiyukan Aquarium, and the Tsutenkaku Tower. Osaka is also close to Kyoto and Nara, only 30-50 minutes away by train, so Osaka is a great region for tourism and well worth the trip.


3. Nara

Nara city is located in the northern part of Nara prefecture. Nara, where the capital of Japan was established in 710, has many historical buildings and streets. Heijo Palace, which served as the residence of the Emperor and the seat of government officials, is now open to visitors as one of the historic sites of Eijo-kyu. The area around Heijo Palace has become a city, and the old houses of craftsmen and merchants remain a tourist attraction known as the “Naramati District.

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In addition to historic buildings, another symbol of Nara is its deer. Approximately 1,500 wild reindeer inhabit Nara Park, which is adjacent to Kasuga-taysha Temple and has been designated as an important national cultural monument (2015 data). Reindeer food can be purchased within the park, and visitors are allowed to get up close and personal with these animals.

4. Nagano.

Nagano is located in the northern part of Nagano Prefecture. It was the site of the 1998 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The most popular tourist spot in Nagano is probably Zenko-ji Temple. Zenko-ji Temple is believed to have been founded about 1,400 years ago during the Asuka period. The main hall of the temple was designated a national treasure in 1953. It is important from an architectural point of view, so the temple may be of interest even to people who are not interested in temples and shrines. In addition, there is a 700-year-old cedar at Togakushi-jinja Temple in Chusa, and at Iwamatsu-in Temple you can see the “Ho-ou-zu” phoenix, which was painted by Katsushika Hokusai, the Edo period (1603-1868) Japanese artist.

Nagano boasts abundant nature, especially Lake Nojiri and the Kagami-ike mirror-like pond. The fossilized remains of the now extinct Naumann-zo elephants have been discovered in Lake Nojiri, which can be seen at the Nojiri-ko Naumann Elephant Museum on a promontory by the lake.

5. Sapporo

Sapporo is a city located in the southwestern part of Hokkaido Island. About 30% of the population of Hokkaido lives in this city. Sapporo gets a lot of snow. It snows about 1/3 of the days of the year. On the other hand, summer is quite cool, with an average temperature of about 25℃ in August, which is why Sapporo is best visited in summer.

Sapporo has been considered the center of Hokkaido since 1869. The Hokkaido region was formerly called “Ezo” and was home to the Ainu tribe of hunters and gatherers. The name Sapporo comes from the Ainu language and, according to various theories, comes from either a combination of the words “sat por pet,” which means “big dry river,” or “sari por pet,” which means “cane bed like a big river.

When the Meiji era began (1868-1912), the new government renamed Ezo Hokkaido and made Sapporo the center of the island region. You can learn about the exploration and development of the island of Hokkaido at the Hokkaido Kaimaku-No-Mura Museum.

6. Nagasaki

Nagasaki City is the center of Nagasaki Prefecture, which is located in the northwestern part of Kyushu.

During the Edo period Nagasaki was the only trading port and a gateway to Japan. A variety of foreign culture penetrated this port, which was called Dejima. Christian culture also penetrated here, and the city has many historic churches, including the Oura Church and the Urakami Cathedral. We recommend a visit to Glover’s Garden, which is next to Oura Church. It is remarkable not only for its Western-style building, but also for its delightful view of Nagasaki City.

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We recommend trying the cuisine of this city, which has long been influenced by foreign culture. In Chinatown you can taste Chinese cuisine. Also known for pilaf, pork cutlets tonkatsu, Turkish rice with spaghetti. A famous souvenir is considered a biscuit “kasutera” (castella), the recipe of which is believed to have been brought to Japan in the 1540s.

Nagasaki is also the city on which the atomic bomb was dropped after Hiroshima. The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Memorial Hall was built in memory of all the victims and as a place of prayer for peace. Various exhibits, including photographs and letters from that time, are on display here. A visit to the Nagasaki Memorial Hall and Peace Park is a good opportunity to reflect on peace.

7. Kanazawa

Kanazawa is a city located in the central part of Ishikawa Prefecture. There are many historical places in Kanazawa, including the Higashi-Taya and Nishi-Taya areas, which have hardly changed since the Edo period (1603-1868). Kanazawa Castle, which was built by the Maeda family who ruled the region now known as Kanazawa, is also a popular tourist attraction. The park next to Kanazawa Castle is a famous place to admire cherry blossoms. In close proximity to the park, the Kenroku-en garden, which is a hallmark of Japan, and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, which features many works by contemporary artists, are also worth a visit.

8. Nikko

Nikko is located in the northwestern part of Tochigi Prefecture. Nikko is a region popular with both local and foreign tourists as it has many World Heritage sites, is famous for its rich nature and is close to Tokyo (about 1 hour drive). If you live in Tokyo, you can go to Nikko for a day of sightseeing, although there are places to stay, including the Kinugawa hot springs onsen, considered one of the best in Tochigi Prefecture.

A popular attraction in Nikko is Nikko-Tosho-gu Shrine, which has been named a World Heritage Site. Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo shogunate, is buried here. Every year on May 17 and 18 a festival called “Reitaisai” is held at Nikko-Toshogu Shrine. Also worth seeing is the “Hyakumono Joroi Sennin Musagyouretsu” parade, which recreates the reburial process of Tokugawa Ieyasu from Kunozan Toshogu Shrine in Shizuoka Prefecture. During this festival, people dress up in samurai clothing and armor.

In addition to Nikko-Tosho-gu temple, there are shrines and temples such as Nikko-Futarasan and Nikki-San Rinno-ji, also World Heritage sites in the area. Aside from the Nikto-Endomura “Edo Wonderland” street, where the atmosphere of the Edo period has been restored, the area as a whole has the feeling of traveling back in time – which is why so many tourists visit this place at any time of the year. There are many other places of interest here, such as the Kegon waterfalls, Lake Shuzen-ji, Mount Nanta-san, Ryuzu and Iroha-zaka waterfalls, where the autumn leaves are especially beautiful.

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You can get to a variety of attractions by bus or car from Nikko station. The best way to get to Nikko Station from nearby major cities is to take the Tohoku-Shinkansen high-speed train to Utsunomiya Station and change to the Nikko Line.

9. Hiroshima

Hiroshima City is the center of Hiroshima Prefecture, which includes the cities of Hiroshima, Kure, Higashihiroshima, and Miyoshi. Hiroshima became infamous around the world after the atomic bomb was dropped. The city has many sites dedicated to this terrible event, including the symbolic Gembaku Dome and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which was built in the hope of eternal peace on Earth, and the Hiroshima Memorial Museum displays numerous materials related to the atomic bomb. Every year on August 6, the anniversary of the fall of the atomic bomb, a memorial ceremony is held here in memory of all the dead. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the Gembaku Dome from Hiroshima Station by streetcar or bus.

What you must try in Hiroshima are okonomiyaki, oysters, and sake. Just east of Hiroshima is the city of Higashihiroshima, which is the center of the Saijo region, which is known throughout Japan for its sake production. You can stroll down Sakagura-dori street amidst the charming cityscape, where there are many cellars. To the southeast of Hiroshima is the city of Kure, and there is the Yamato Museum with a huge collection related to the Japanese Navy, including a 1/10 scale replica of the battleship Yamato.

10. Takayama

Takayama is a town located in the mountainous part of Gifu Prefecture. It has a population of 90,000 people.

In a traditional settlement in the Kami-Sannomachi region, which is located in the center of the city, you can see historic buildings from the Edo period (1603-1868) – this place is very popular with tourists. Historic buildings such as the old Yoshijima-ke house, the Kasukabe Heritage Museum, and Takayama-Jinja can even be visited and get a closer look at their interiors. The entire area has been designated as an area requiring the preservation of traditional Japanese buildings.

Every year in April and October, the Takayama Festival is held here. A parade with various wagons and mechanical puppets passes through town. If you can’t make it to the festival, you can see wagons during the festival in Hida-Takayama Matsuri-no-Mori.

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Many foreign tourists come to Takayama, so you can easily find booklets and brochures in various languages, so it’s easier to get the information you need. The Takayama Tourist Information Center’s website is available in 11 languages, so be sure to check the information on the site before you visit.

The nearest station to Takayama is JR Takayama Station. It is relatively easy to get to by train from Toyama station, and it is a 1.5 hour express train ride away. You can get to Toyama station from Tokyo or the Kansai region by super high-speed train or bus.

Brief information about Tokyo

Tokyo is the capital of Japan and the largest of its cities. Hundreds of thousands of tourists from different countries come here every year. And in 2020 Tokyo will host the Summer Olympic Games and because of that the city will be riveted to the attention of the whole world.

The distinctive features of Tokyo are also powerful economy (the largest in the world among cities) and technology. People who have been here note that the city is ahead of its time and is a true megalopolis of the future. It is quite possible that robots capable of replacing cashiers, bank clerks and other professions will be introduced here everywhere in the near future.

History in Brief

The place where Tokyo is located was inhabited as far back as the Stone Age. But for a long time it was about tribes and small settlements, about which no historical data have been preserved.

The outlines of the modern city began to appear only in the 12th century, when a man named Edo Taro Shigenadoy built a fort here. The Edo Castle, built by his descendants in the mid-15th century, survives to this day and can be toured there.

Edo Castle

At the beginning of the 17th century Edo (as Tokyo was then called) became the capital of the Shogunate. This was the impetus for its development, with the result that the city quickly became one of the largest in Japan.

The name Tokyo appeared relatively recently – in 1868. At that time the Emperor Mutsuhito made the decision to move the capital here. As a result, Tokyo officially became the most important city in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Geography of the Japanese capital

The city is located on the shore of Tokyo Bay. It stretches over 90 kilometers, which, given the bright lights, makes it clearly visible not only from the air but also from space.

It is also important to note the fact that Tokyo includes two groups of islands, Izu and Ogasawara. Almost all of them are within a few hundred kilometers of the coast. And the most distant island is located 1,850 kilometers from the center of Tokyo.

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Population of Tokyo

To say exactly how many people live in the capital of Japan is rather problematic. First, their number is constantly changing (or rather, increasing). Secondly, a lot depends on the reference point.

For example, about 9 million people live in the old (pre-1943) boundaries. The metropolitan area in turn already has 13 million, and in the so-called Greater Tokyo, as of 2016, according to Wikipedia, almost 38 million. Tokyo is one of the few Japanese cities whose population continues to grow despite the country’s raging demographic crisis.

Tokyo population

As with other megacities, Tokyo’s borders are very blurred and continue to expand. This creates a number of problems for local residents. For example, many of them have to spend several hours just to get to and from work.

Again, real estate prices are constantly rising, but even so there are not enough apartments for everyone. A private home is a luxury. Only very wealthy citizens or people who inherited a house can afford such a home.


In Tokyo, a huge number of highways and junctions. Because of this, getting to the boundaries of the old city from its surroundings is not difficult. The problems begin closer to the center, where you can stand in traffic jams for a very, very long time. As a result, many residents give up the daily use of private transport.

The main alternatives to cars are the railroad and subway. Tokyo has its own railroad, allowing you to move between districts of the city on high-speed trains. It’s very convenient.

Tokyo subway

As for the Tokyo Metro, it now has 285 stations on 13 lines. The daily passenger flow is 9 million. Interestingly, the local subway has employees whose sole job is to push passengers into overcrowded cars. They are called – osia. You can see examples of their work on YouTube. For many, this will seem wild, but the Japanese don’t complain, especially since it’s quite difficult to leave some stations without the help of an oshii.


A characteristic feature of the local climate is the clear division into two seasons: dry and wet. The first is in winter, and the second takes up the rest of the months. Because of this, Tokyo usually has only one major snowfall in three months. But at other times of the year the city is regularly covered by heavy rains.

Summer in Tokyo begins in May and ends only in November. The hottest month is August with an average temperature of +27.5 degrees Celsius. By the way, despite the abundance of precipitation, summer is very stuffy, which is why almost every room has air conditioning and fans.

Tokyo heat

Typhoons also reach Tokyo. But overwhelmingly they do not pose any threat. The last time a strong typhoon in the city was seen more than ten years ago – in 2007.

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