"Japan nevers considers time together as time wasted. Rather, it is time invested." -Donald Richie

Taking an exciting trip to Japan to learn more about Japanese culture, traditions, and cuisine is a dream of many North Americans and Europeans.

Japanese society shines like a beacon in this world, making people from all over the world want to imitate its customs. 

Almost every seasoned traveller has Japan on their bucket list.

According to statistics recorded by the Japan Foundation, there were over 3.5 million people in the world learning Japanese from 49,000 professionally qualified tutors or teachers. Therefore, the global interest in Japanese culture cannot be refuted.

It is essential to state that in the land of the rising sun, more than 80% of the 126.8 million inhabitants live in gigantically populated cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. For example, the ten largest cities in Japan each have over one million inhabitants.

Without further ado, for those who want to learn more about Japan's top 1o mega-metropolises, Superprof has pieced together an informative article to intrigue all types of readers.

What about visa information before travelling to Japan?


big cities with culture
Tokyo is the world's most populated city. (Source: Unsplash)

The sprawling Tokyo metropolitan prefecture is the capital of Japan and one of the largest cities in the world by population. Located on the eastern coast of Japan's largest island, Honshu, the metropolis population of Tokyo is estimated at 13.8 million inhabitants, making it one of the most populated in the world.

Also, when combined the cities of Yokohama, Japan's second-largest metropolis, and Kawasaki, not the aerospace company but the urban area, form a population of approximately 5.2 million people.

Therefore, when including Tokyo, the cities of Kawasaki and Yokohama form the Greater Tokyo Area, which, according to 2016 estimates, has an urban population of over 38.1 million inhabitants. 

That's a larger population that many of the world's countries! 

Since Tokyo is Japan's leading financial and commercial centre, it is also home to many institutions responsible for international and diplomatic relations. Therefore, if any UK-based citizens run into any problems after a night of drinking in Tokyo, there is no need to fret since the British embassy is easily located.

Also, it is essential to state that the majority of international flights arrive in Tokyo at either Haneda or Narita international airport; furthermore, a stay in glorious Tokyo is almost inevitable when visiting Japan. There are daily flights from London to Tokyo that last about 12 hours non-stop.

Tokyo fascinates visitors from all walks of life for its cosmopolitan feel and blending of mixing ancient traditions with modernity.

A visit to Japan's capital is pure bliss; a culture shock dream of fluorescent billboards. 

If you thought that being from the UK and knowing a bit of English was enough to get around in crowded Tokyo, you were wrong! Most Japanese natives, especially the older ones, are not very fluent in English, so learning a bit of the Kanji and Hiragana before leaving is essential to fruitful conversations.

Consider viewing the blog, A British Prof in Japan, to read more about primary cities such as Tokyo.

Also, if you're considering the fact of moving to Tokyo for a few months, a visa is necessary past a visit of 90 days for UK citizens. Nevertheless, since the Greater Tokyo area is so populated, there are various places for English native speakers to learn the Japanese language, such as the following options:

  • Coto Japanese Academy: located near the Imperial Palace in Tokyo,
  • Yokohama International Language School: situated in the city of Yokohama, which is a short train ride from Tokyo.

Want to learn more about the history of Japanese emperors?


The metropolitan area of Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe is home to nearly 20 million inhabitants within an area of 13,033km². Thus, making it the second-largest urban area in Japan.

Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe are the three most populated cities in the Kansai region, and they are often grouped as a large city known as Keihanshin.

To get a better idea of the number of inhabitants residing within Keihanshin, imagine doubling the entire London population!

With Gross Domestic Profit (GDP) of $341 billion, according to recent estimates, it is one of the wealthiest parts of the world and also one of the most expensive in terms of the local cost of living beating out countries such as Ireland, Denmark, Hong Kong, and Ireland.

Osaka is referred to by many as the cultural capital of Japan, and also the capital of Japanese cuisine; sushi, ramen, or soba anyone? On the other hand, Kyoto, the former capital of Japan from 794-1868, steals visitors hearts and is viewed as Japan's most beautiful city.

Fun fact: in 1994, UNESCO added 17 Shinto temples, shrines and castles on their World Heritage list. 

Want to learn Japanese in the Keihanshin area? The following are the best schools to study the Japanese tongue in Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe:

  • Osaka YMCA Japanese School: highly recommended boasting fantastic reviews,
  • Kansai College: also located in Osaka,
  • Kyoto Minsai Japanese Language School: a great place to learn Japanese at affordable prices,
  • Lexis Japan: a very qualified language institute in Kobe.

What monuments should be visited in Kyoto?


the top Japanese cities
One of Japan's top ten most populated cities in Nagoya. (Source: pixabay)

Located in the centre of Honshu island on the Pacific coast, between Kyoto and Tokyo, Nagoya has over 2.3 million inhabitants in the central city and about 10 million inhabitants in the urban area.

Nagoya is the largest city in the Chubu region boasting a very transited port. Having the third-largest metropolitan area in Japan is not all that Nagoya is known for, the area is massive coming in at 326.4km²!

For those who want to get off the beaten track and experience the authentic Japanese experience, Nagoya is the place to visit. 

It is essential to mention that between March and April, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, creating picture-perfect memories for those who decide to visit at that time.

For visitors interested in taking a few Japanese classes, courses can be requested at the JSLN Japanese Language School; it's only a five-minute walk from Nagoya Station.

How much does a trip to Japan cost?

4. Fukuoka-Kitakyushu

Fukuoka, with around 1.5 million inhabitants, and Kitakyushu are two major cities located on the northern tip of Kyushu Island and make up the Fukuoka-Kitakyushu metropolis.

Fukuoka is one of the Japanese cities with the most vibrant cultural heritage and is frequently praised by the press as being one of the most dynamic cities in the world.

It is important to note that in Hakata, the old city that merged into and became Fukuoka, has a particular dialect that is quite distinct from traditional Japanese, and it's called Hakata-ben. 

Are there any Japanese schools in Fukuoka? Of course! Past students highly recommend the Genki Japanese and Culture School.

However, let us not forget to mention the other big city located in this part of Japan, Kitakyushu that is widely popular for its manga museum and other unique tourist attractions that keep foreigners coming back year after year.

How much time should be spent exploring the land of the rising sun?


Located on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, Sapporo is known for its beer, skiing, and annual Sapporo Snow Festival; it is considered to be the fifth-largest urban area in Japan and third largest in terms of area.

According to a recent estimate, 1.95 million inhabitants are living in the Sapporo region. Weather can be cold during the winters boasting an average of about -4°C in January and February. Also, summers don't ever get to warm since they average only about 20°C.

It is essential to state that the islands of Japan are diverse and simply amazing. For example, scuba divers can enjoy crystal clear waters in Okinawa and at the same time abundant snow in Hokkaido, where Sapporo is located; a brilliant contrast indeed!

Also, many foreigners have noticed that Japanese natives are more friendly on the island of Hokkaido than they are in Shikoku, Kyushu, and Honshu.

Many content visitors have learned Japanese at Hokkaido Japanese Language School in Sapporo.

When is the best time of year to visit Japan?


the best places to visit in Japan
The city of Hiroshima has bounced back from tragedy beautifully! (Source: Unsplash)

What does the name Hiroshima mean to you? Have you read about this infamous place during history lessons?

Hiroshima is notoriously known for being the city that suffered, along with Nagasaki, the atomic bombings of the American army on August 6, 1945, killing between 100,000 to 230,000 people; according to sources.

Want to know the worst part? No one has ever been prosecuted for these heinous crimes!

Hiroshima is a symbol of trauma for Japan during the nation's last days of war and a sign of the United States completely dominating the war; it is part of Japan's less than favourable history.

Nevertheless, Hiroshima natives have completely moved and rebuilt their city, which now has over 1.2 million inhabitants and is one of Japan's most populated urban areas. Also, Hiroshima is recognised as being an important economic centre and port town.

On Miyajima Island, tourists can observe the Itsukushima Temple, a symbolic Shinto shrine that appears to be floating peacefully on the water at high tide.

Where can curious ones learn Japanese in Hiroshima? At the Hiroshima YMCA.

Get information about Japanese lessons in London here.


With an estimated population of 1.06 million people, Sendai is the largest city in the Tohoku region, located north of Honshu Island. According to the rankings, Sendai, when calculating the metro population, is the 8th most populous city in Japan.

Unfortunately, Sendai is infamous for being hit a magnitude 9.0 earthquake on March 11, 2011, that triggered a destructive tsunami.

It was the most violent earthquake that Japan has ever seen and one of the deadliest on record, making it a natural disaster that was difficult to overcome.


Located between Nagoya and Tokyo, the city of Shizuoka has a metro population of approximately 988,000 inhabitants, according to recent statistics. It is located near Mount Fuji, and when Shizuoka is translated from Japanese into English, it means quiet hill.

However, it is essential to state that the area of Shizuoka is built on a field with much seismic activity: the overall risk of a tsunami is quite high in this region.

The city is quite famous for being a place where citizens of Tokyo relax on the beaches or take a dip into the mountains hot springs.

Fun fact: the Japanese writer, Yasunari Kawabata liked to stay in Shizuoka to write. 


Located 15-30 kilometres north of Tokyo, Saitama has an estimated population of 1.2 million inhabitants and is technically part of the Greater Tokyo area.

Why go to Saitama, a suburb of Tokyo? 

The reason is simple: to study Japanese at the Yono Gakuin Japanese Language School; this school has been established for more than twenty years and offers top-notch Japanese language classes to international students.


Niigata is in the top 15 most-populous Japanese cities, with over 800,000 inhabitants residing in the region. Niigata is the largest city along the coast of the Sea of Japan and is north of Tokyo.

The University of Niigata is top-rated among Japanese students who come to study law, economics, medicine, science, and agriculture. 

In conclusion, it's important to state that whether you are moving to Japan to study the language or for work opportunities, the land of the rising sun has much to offer foreigners looking for a new adventure.

Japanese cities are very extravagant and eclectic; how so?  A visitor may easily explore rice fields, cherry trees and ancient temples, in a town that's the size of Birmingham or Manchester! We highly recommended a visit to learn Japanese in the land of Nippon!

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