10 Major Cities in Japan

Places to visit in Japan

Japan has many attractive cities that preserve the traditions and culture unique to each region. Many large cities, such as Sapporo in Hokkaido and, Tokyo as the center of Japan, attract many tourists to Japan each year.

Each place offers different sightseeing opportunities and traditional cultures, making it well worth a visit. In this article, we will focus on the major cities of Japan, or as some may see it, the heartbeat of Japan.

1. Tokyo

tokyo

Tokyo is a metropolis consisting of 23 wards and several municipalities in the west. As the center of Japan, everything from shopping, dining, entertainment, economics, and politics is concentrated in Tokyo. Tokyo is home to many towering buildings and many internationally recognized symbols such as Tokyo Tower and Skytree. Tokyo is probably one of the first places you should visit when you come to Japan and is the gateway to all sorts of adventures.

The best guided tour in Tokyo
Tokyo 1-Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 hours)

2. Yokohama

Yokohama is a large port city that has developed over the years as an international trading port connecting Japan with the rest of the world. Yokohama, which in the past has been ranked as the best place to live in Japan, is easily accessible from Tokyo by train, and many people from Tokyo visit the city for sightseeing and business.

Yokohama has a strong international flavor with its Chinatown and red brick warehouses, and it has become a tourist destination as well. Recently, an outlet mall has also been built, making it a great place for shopping. It is a wonderful port town where one can spend a whole day having fun.

3. Osaka

Dotonbori Osaka Glico

Osaka is the center of the Kansai region, a major Japanese metropolis with a variety of tourist attractions, including Osaka Castle and Tsutenkaku Tower. In particular, Universal Studios Japan is definitely worth visiting when you come to Osaka.

Osaka is home to many fascinating and uniquely Japanese entertainment attractions, such as the recent collaboration between Universal Studios Japan with Nintendo. Osaka is also known for its delicious food such as takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and kushikatsu which are very popular among not only locals but for tourists.

The best guided tour in Osaka
Osaka Highlights Private Walking Tour

4. Nagoya

Nagoya is a large city located right in the center between Osaka and Tokyo. It is the center of Aichi Prefecture, easily accessible by bullet train or a local train from anywhere in the prefecture, from Gifu in the north, Tokyo in the east, and Osaka in the west.

Nagoya Castle, a short train ride from Nagoya Station, is a trademark castle with its golden orcas. Nagoya is also famous for its gourmet cuisine and dishes stewed in miso are not to be missed. Miso nikomi udon and miso katsu (pork cutlet) are excellent dishes that allow you to taste the richness of miso.

5. Sapporo

Sapporo is the largest city in Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture of Japan. The average temperature in Sapporo is lower than that of Tokyo, and the average summer temperature is 26.4℃, making it a very cool place to avoid the hot and humid climate of the summer.

In winter, it gets very cold, and Hokkaido is proud of its gourmet foods such as ramen and soup curry, which are the most commonly eaten dishes there during the winter.

Don’t forget that Hokkaido is a treasure trove of dairy and seafood. Fresh seafood and juicy steaks are now being served at various Sapporo restaurants. You can enjoy Sapporo in summer or winter!

The best guided tour in Hokkaido
Hokkaido 1–Day Highlight Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)

6. Fukuoka

Fukuoka

One of the centers of Kitakyushu would be Fukuoka. In particular, Hakata in Fukuoka City is a pop culture area where Kyushu’s young people gather. For visitors to Japan, Hakata Station is only a 5-minute train ride from Fukuoka Airport. It is easy to get to and from the Hakata area. Hakata has a strong yatai (food stall) culture, and delicious gourmet foods such as Hakata tonkotsu ramen and motsunabe are outstanding. This is a must-visit spot if you are sightseeing in Kyushu.

The best guided tour in Fukuoka
Fukuoka 1–Day Highlight Private Walking Tour (7 Hours)

7. Kobe

Kobe in Hyogo Prefecture is perhaps the most fashionable city that can be reached by train from Osaka or Kyoto. It is a beautiful port town, and at night the neon lights of Mozaic Big Ferris Wheel glow beautifully.

The people of Kobe are known for being the first in Japan to introduce foreign cultures and sports, such as golf and jazz, to Japan, and because of the strong Western influence, the city itself has the exotic scent of a seaside town in some far off place. If you come here with your sweetheart, you will be enchanted by the elegance of the city, so why not visit?

The best guided tour in Kobe
Kobe 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (7 Hours)

8. Kyoto

If you want to fully enjoy the traditional Japanese atmosphere, Kyoto would be perfect for you. Located just above Osaka in the Kansai region, Kyoto was the capital of Japan before the capital was moved to Tokyo. For this reason, the city of Kyoto has always been enveloped in an atmosphere of elegance, and there are numerous shrines and temples in the city, allowing visitors to fully enjoy the atmosphere that is uniquely Japanese. Kyoto is also known for its tea, and the matcha from Uji is superb. In addition to matcha, you can also taste delicious matcha sweets.

The best guided tour in Kyoto
Kyoto Private Full Day Walking Tour [Customizable]

9. Hiroshima

Hiroshima is a city rich in nature, blessed with the sea and mountains in Chugoku region, and since the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6th, 1945, it has been known as a peace-loving city. Although Hiroshima is a city of peace, it also has many beautiful traditional buildings. One good example is Itsukushima Shrine, famous for its vermilion torii (shrine gate) built over the sea. If you come to Hiroshima, be sure to try Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, which has plenty of cabbage and noodles inside.

The best guided tour in Hiroshima
Hiroshima Private Tour [Customizable 7 Hours]

10. Sendai

The last city here is Sendai, the largest city in the Tohoku region. Sendai is also famous for its lush greenery, with a statue of Lord Date Masamune, the proud military commander of Sendai, and many zelkova trees planted in the city.

A 30-minute to 1-hour drive from Sendai to the suburbs will take you to the valleys and beautiful rivers of Akiu, Sakunami, and Izumi areas. You can enjoy cool nature in summer and beautiful autumn leaves in fall that will captivate all who see them. Sendai, with its abundance of nature, is a must-visit spot when you come to Tohoku.

In this article, we have introduced 10 major Japanese metropolises, but are there any that you would like to visit? Since the northern and southern regions of Japan differ in many areas, visiting them directly is the best way to enjoy the unique culture and traditions of a region.

The best guided tour in Sendai
Sendai & Matsushima 1–Day Highlight Private Walking Tour (7 Hours)

Japan Wonder Travel Tours 

Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency offering guided tours in Japan. 
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we will organize the best tours for you! If you want to explore Japan to learn more histories and backstories of the area, our knowledgeable and friendly guide will happily take you to the best spots! 
Also, we can provide you with any assistance for your upcoming trip in Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions/need some help! 

Tokyo Fish Market Tour @Tsukiji – Enjoy Local Food and Drink
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo to try some local’s favorite street foods and sake with a friendly guide! 

tsukiji tour

Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
There’s no better way to explore the area than being with a knowledgeable guide. You can learn the history and background story of the town, and discover some hidden gems which can be difficult to find otherwise.

Asakusa Tokyo private tour

Kyoto Private Full Day Walking Tour
On this full-day private tour of Kyoto, you will be able to see Kyoto efficiently in just one day and also develop a deeper understanding of both the culture of the area and of Japan as a whole.

Sightseeing in major Japanese cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto is fun, but if you want to enjoy Japan to the fullest, you should visit each city. If you want to get the most out of your trip to Japan, it is recommended that you take a domestic tour, as travel agencies will be able to arrange a tour itinerary for you. We hope your trip to Japan will be more enjoyable.

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Happy traveling!

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Writer's profile
Writer’s profile

Mao Goto is a Japanese freelancer who was born in Hayama, Kanagawa prefecture and raised in Tokyo. Since 2016 she lives in the Taito Ward, home to a lot of Japanese culture hotspots such as Asakusa, Akihabara, and Ueno. She has been interested in the field of English education in Japan and got her Master’s degree in March 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.

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