Best cities to live in Japan


It's not always easy to decide in which area to settle in when moving to Japan. According to you, what are the best cites to live in?

Which regions offer most of the job opportunities, a good quality of life, an affordable cost of living?

Share with us the cities you would recommend to expats and soon-to-be expats in Japan.

Thank you in advance,


Pattaya or Manila

Tokyo is big, but if you talk about best areas to live in Tokyo I recomand Hiroo, Ebisu, Meguro, and Futakotamagawa if you are with your family
Hicham Rifki

Much depends on your interests and whether you have a family or not.  If you enjoy mixing with and learning about traditional Japan, and have a family (with children), I recommend the Shonan area, specifically Fujisawa, Chigasaki or (much more rural) Samukawa.

I live is smalltown Samukawa, which is very near Chigasaki city. Having 3 young children, Samukawa is a place where I don't have to worry about them playing outside until the town chime rings, and all the kids hurry home.  In addition, they're playing in a nature rich environment- farms, parks, green neighborhoods.  For traditional "city" excitement nearby Chigasaki, Hiratsuka, Fujisawa is a short ways away.  For New York City type excitement (where I'm from) major Tokyo areas are a short train trip (40-70min) away.   

There are still plenty of chances to get involved in more traditional activities in the rural areas, and the lack of congestion is ideal for family life (IMHO).

I am coming up on three years in Yokohama and I love it.  We have many activities and tourist attractions, good restaurants, excellent transportation, and a reasonable cost of living.  Last year I walked over 3500 kilometers in and around Yokohama.  I have met many people along my walks and they for the most part are very friendly.  It is easy to walk from one end of the city to the other with beautiful pathways and plenty of parks in every sector.  As a travel writer I have traveled almost the entire country and it is always great to come back to Yokohama my home.  Most of the cities in Japan have some good attributes, but Yokohama is perfect for single, married and those with children.  What ever you need you can find it here.

I've soon lived two years in Kyoto and this is one of my favorite places, it's simply beautiful!

My choice would be Yokohama. This city is commuting distance to Tokyo and is a modern and vibrant place with lots of history and culture and some amazing places to visit.

Osaka - Nishinari Ward. ;)

I am a bit confused about where I would choose to live. I do love the outdoors but I also like to be in or near to a city. Yokohama is one possibility and so is Nagoya. I am thinking of settling down in Japan in a few years so this question often crosses my mind.

Yokohama has easy quick access to Tokyo which is great, yet also great access to the Fuji Five Lakes and Izu Peninsula areas. Nagoya is near to mountains and also is a city and just 35 minutes train ride to beautiful cities like Kyoto.

One thing I am always reminded of by my Japanese friends is that Yokohama could be dangerous if there was a tsunami, unless you re living on higher grounds.

Then another of my favourite places in Mishima, close to the coast and close to Mount Fuji. Lots of outdoor living and also I have many friends living here.

I guess I still have a few years to decide.

I have lived in Yokohama for over six years and this last Typhoon was the most destructive in our history and there was no Tsunami.  Most of the population is not in the Bay Area which would be hardest hit.  Other than that it has been a really nice place to live.  Not as expensive as Tokyo and a little more spread out, but very convenient.   I just completed a five year budget analysis you may be interested in.
Also check out my blog for what it is like to live in Yokohama.

Typhoons are pretty common in Japan as well as in the Philippines, Taiwan , Hong Kong and China and they occur every year but they don't cause tsunamis. Earthquakes cause tsunamis.

Tsunami's are caused by earthquakes or shifts in the earth's plates. What happens in an earthquake is that one part of the seabed moves relative to the other, commonly along an existing fault plane and when an earthquake occurs there is a sudden displacement of water in the sea creating the beginning of the tsunami which builds as it heads towards land.

You might remember the very recent tsunami that hit Banten near Jakarta in Indonesia. This was caused by a collapse of part of the Anak Krakatoa volcano between Sumatra and Java. There was no bad weather at all, but the collapse of the volcano created the tsunami and worst of all it occurred late in the evening and many people died. Similarly, the fairly recent tsunami that hit Sulawesi some months ago where much of a village was wiped out was caused by an earthquake with the epicenter under the sea floor. We know the same happened in Japan just a few years ago in 2011 where a 9.1 magnitude earthquake on Japan's east coast created a massive tsunami that destroyed the city of Sendai and destroyed the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power station.

And of course the most tragic of recent tsunamis in 2004 that killed 227,898 people and was caused by a 9.1 magnitude earthquake in the Indian Ocean with waves up to 30 metres high was devastating.

Japan is part of the "ring of fire" that surrounds the Pacific Ocean which is why it has volcanoes and earthquakes. Earthquakes create tsunamis, not typhoons and earthquakes are unpredictable but devastating. Many coastal towns along the same coastline as Yokohama such as Numazu in Shizuoka Prefecture have "tsunami gates" at the entrance to their harbours. Cities like Tokyo and Yokohama would be very susceptible to major earthquakes followed by tsunami's due to the low elevation.

I have several Japanese friends who are expatriates working overseas and those who live in Tokyo always worry about "the big earthquake" that might hit Tokyo and any subsequent tsunami. Of course we all hope nothing every happens but if it should then Yokohama would be equally damaged.

The thing is, tsunamis are caused by earthquakes, and earthquakes are completely unpredictable. We just do not know when one might occur. Once an earthquake occurs, then seismologists can determine the location of the epicenter fairly accurately. If the earthquake is a major one, usually 7 or higher on the Richter Scale, then the population of the nearest cities will have a matter of minutes to get to higher ground should it be determined that a tsunami may occur.

You may have heard about the Great Japan Earthquake of 1923. The earthquake followed by a 40 foot tsunami killed more than 140,000 people in Yokohama and Tokyo. Let me say this again, earthquakes are completely unpredictable.

However, Yokohama does happen to be one of my favourite cities in Japan. As you say, not as expensive as Tokyo but just a half hour commute to get there. And plenty of great things to see and do for the family. My kids absolutely love Yokohama as does my wife and I and we have many friends there and visit there often.

Thank for the detailed education on earthquakes, Typhoons and Tsunamis.  Maybe you should continue your research into Tsunamis.  Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6000 people in the Philippines with Tsunami type waves. … 112054.htm

Wherever  you decide to live, just make sure you know where the emergency shelters are and what to do incase of a disaster.

Above all, the good thing about typhoons is that they are predictable well in advance and the population can be somewhat prepared. And any tsunami in Yokohama or Tokyo is unlikely to create the havoc that they create in places like the Philippines. No need to research into tsunamis, I am a geologist and studied these things quite in depth.

Yes absolutely true, always know where the safe zones are and which are the emergency shelters nearest to your location or at least which are the safest buildings to be in in your area if you cannot get to a safe zone, couldn't agree with you more.