You’ve made your decision and you’re ready to move to Japan: awesome! Out of all the countries in the world, you have concluded that Japan is the place you want to be. But what about its cities? You’ve asked yourself this question, and we are here to answer! Namely, “What are the best cities to study Japanese in Japan?”
Without any further ado, let’s get going!
If you love the city life as I do, the capital city may be one of the best cities to study Japanese in Japan. The political, economic, and fashion capital of Japan, it’s home to some of Japan’s favorite attractions like Akihabara (秋葉原, あきはばら), Shibuya (渋谷, しぶや) and Harajuku (原宿, はらじゅく).
A life in Tokyo is exciting, and may seem like living in the future. In a city where innovative technology fuses with tradition, it feels like anything can happen. The numerous stores and restaurants stay open until very late, and people are out at all hours of the day and night. With an unlimited number of clubs, bars and nightlife options, people are never without things to do and places to go.
Living in Tokyo can be extremely expensive, taking into consideration the higher rent and food costs. Tokyo has one of the highest costs of living in the world, but at the same time, the largest metropolis in the world offers more job opportunities for foreigners than other areas of Japan. The show business is also booming, ad talent agencies are always out scouting in the city for modeling or acting. For tips and advice on saving money in the Big City, look no further than here: we’ve got you covered!
The second most populous city in Japan is close to Tokyo and houses around 3.6 million people. Though still in the greater Tokyo area, living in Yokohama has a more laid-back feel in its open spaces. Some famous spots include Japan’s largest Chinatown and Minatomirai (みなとみらい), or “future harbor,” with a big lit-up ferris wheel and modern architecture.
Living costs may be down 30% compared to living in Tokyo, and you won’t feel as cramped. The buildings are spaced out more and streets are much wider in Yokohama. It’s also close to the sea and walking through the city you can enjoy a breeze.
Yokohama is within commuting distance from Tokyo, around a 30 minute train ride away — 260 yen on Toyoko line (東横線, とうよこせん) from Yokohama to Shibuya (渋谷,しぶや). Many Japanese families move out of Tokyo’s crowded neighborhoods and choose to live a more peaceful city life in Yokohama.
The third most populous city in the country is home to many of the country’s comedians and is known for having Japan’s friendliest and most outgoing people. If you’re looking to make friends during your stay, one of the best cities to study Japanese in Japan is Osaka is the place to go as you’ll easily befriend the people of Osaka, who are famous for being easy to get along with.
The Kansai (関西,かんさい) region’s economic center is home to famous districts like Umeda (梅田,うめだ), Namba (難波,なんば), Den Den Town (でんでんタウン) or Nipponbashi (日本橋,にっぽんばし), and Amemura (アメ村), or America Village.
Osaka is famous for lots of cheap and delicious foods, perhaps known best for okonomiyaki (お好み焼き,おこのみやき) and takoyaki (たこ焼き,たこやき). The people love to eat, and the “eating till you drop” mentality is a common one. The Dotonbori shopping area has hundreds of eateries loved by both locals and tourists.
Living close to areas of Kyoto (京都,きょうと), Nara (奈良,なら) and Kobe (神戸,こうべ) will give you many opportunities to explore different aspects of Japanese culture. Experiences like visiting historical temples in Kyoto or eating world-famous Kobe beef are all a short train ride away.
Another option in Kansai for cities to study in, with a completely different feel is the beautiful city of Kyoto. Unlike any other city in Japan, Kyoto brings historical Japan to life in a modern age. Famous sites include Kiyomizudera (清水寺,きよみずでら), Kinkakuji (金閣寺,きんかくじ) and other world heritage sites.
Kyoto attracts many tourists but there are also many universities in the city. Kyoto University, one of the world’s most prestigious universities, attracts many students and educational institutions. The city is home to a large concentration of young college-aged population.
Sapporo, in the northern-most island prefecture of Hokkaido (北海道,ほっかいどう), is obviously much cooler than much of the rest of the country. With milder summers, you can avoid melting during the humid Japanese summer. In the winter, you can enjoy some of the best snow and ski resorts in the world if you can bear the cold.
Though further away from the center of the country, most of the population does not have strong regional accents compared to other areas of Japan. You’ll be able to learn a neutral Japanese with the unique experiences of the region, making it a great place to study.
Sapporo is famous for Miso Ramen (味噌ラーメン) and an abundance of fresh seafood. You can easily travel to other cities in Hokkaido like Otaru (小樽,おたる), Hakodate (函館,はこだて) and Asahikawa (旭川,あさひ かわ). Visiting Wakkanai (稚内,わっかない), the northernmost and coldest part of Japan is an experience of its own, being able to see from there the Russian island of Sakhalin.
Fukuoka, in the northern region of Kyushu (九州,きゅうしゅう), is the largest city in Southern Japan. Hakata (博多,はかた), one of the main districts, used to be a separate city that merged with Fukuoka. The city has great options for nightlife and shopping as well as accessibility to some of Japan’s other western areas like Hiroshima (広島,ひろしま) and Beppu (別府,べっぷ).
The city is known for its famous tonkotsu (豚骨,とんこつ), or pork broth ramen, called Hakata ramen (博多 ラーメン,はかたラーメン). Fukuoka carries a variety of other foods in its many yatai (屋台,やたい), or outdoor food stands, lined along the river. Everything from yakitori (焼き鳥,やきとり), or chicken skewers, oden (おでん) and ramen are served.
In addition to other areas in Japan, a ferry is available across the Sea of Japan to Busan, Korea for just under 3 hours for a quick weekend trip.
Located close to Kyoto and Osaka, Kobe sits between mountains and the sea, which gives it great appeal amongst tourists and Japanese people alike. Its smaller size is perfect for students wishing to avoid the noise and frenzy of busier cities like Osaka and Tokyo.
Kobe was one of the first ports of Japan, dealing extensively with China, and was one of the first points of contact when Japan reopened to the rest of the world in the 19th century. As such, it boasts a bustling Chinatown called Nankinmachi (南京町、なんきんまち), and many Western style brick buildings that can be found around the harbor.
In the end, the city where you end up studying will affect a big part of your experience in Japan. If you have any questions about which Japanese city is right for you, why not contact Go! Go! Nihon today and obtain free support in figuring out which option is best for you?