Major Cities in Japan

Japan is a relatively small country with large and densely populated urban cities. It hones 11 cities with populations of more than one million people. Almost 100 million Japanese (or 78% of the country’s total population of 127 million) live in urban areas. The total population of Japan’s largest 100 cities comes out to 57.1 million (or 45% of all Japanese).

From a communication point of view, such concentration in urban areas means a homogeneous Japanese language across the country.

Japan’s Largest City

Tokyo is the largest city in Japan.

In 1868, Tokyo replaced the old capital of Kyoto (just north of Osaka, the 2nd largest city in Japan). Tokyo (meaning 'eastern capital') was called Edo up until that time. It is located on the eastern side of the main island Honshū and contains more than 8 million residents. The Greater Tokyo Prefecture is 239 square miles (618 square km) and is estimated to have a population of about 12 million.

To explain the extent of Tokyo’s size, the number of residents in the Japanese capital is greater then the combined population of the next three largest cities: Yokohama, Osaka and Nagoya. It consists of:

  • 23 different inner cities (ku)
  • 26 suburban cities (shi)
  • five towns (chō)
  • eight villages (mura)
  • over 300 islands
  • two major island chains.

Tokyo is considered one of the three "command centers" for the world economy, along with New York City and London. Roughly 5 Million people commute to and from work from the outer cities and towns to this wealthy city everyday. Recently, it was named the fourth Most Livable City and the World’s Most Livable Megalopolis (large urban complex).

Tip for Companies Entering the Japanese Markets

Tokyo is the main engine of Japan. Focus your time and energy in Tokyo since other Japanese cities usually emulate the business behavior of the Tokyo companies. Do well first in Tokyo and the remaining of Japan will be much easier to conquer.

Other Major Cities


With a population of approximately 3.6 million, Yokohama, south of Tokyo, is Japan’s second largest city.

Yokohama lies on Tokyo Bay in the Kantō region of the main island of Honshū. It is an important commercial hub of the Greater Tokyo Area. Yokohama is a manufacturing and ship building center and is considered Japan’s largest port. This port was one of the first to be opened to foreign trade in 1859. Because of this, Yokohama quickly grew from a small fishing village into one of Japan's major cities.


Osaka is Japan’s third largest city with a population of roughly 2.6 million.

It is located in the Kansai region of Japan's main island of Honshū at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay. It is very historically significant as it was the country's first capital. Osaka is considered a vital economic center in Japan.


The fourth largest city in Japan is Nagoya containing a population of about 2.3 million. It is located on the Pacific coast in the Chūbu region on central Honshū. It is one of Japan's major ports along with those of Tokyo, Osaka, and Yokohama. It is also the center of Japan's third largest metropolitan region, known as the Chūkyō Metropolitan Area. It is considered an important industrial and cultural center.

Other Major Cities

Other major cities with noting in Japan are:

  • Sapporo
  • Kobe
  • Kyoto
  • Fukuoka

These modern cities give Japan its busy, city-oriented reputation.


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