Hokkaido’s Mt Shiribeshiyama (and that’s the town of Erimo, on the Hokkaido coast Photo: Pakutaso

Survey picks Japan’s most attractive prefectures – Familiar spots at top and bottom of rankings

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

On a map of the world, Japan looks like a pretty tiny place. Zoom in to a map of just Japan, though, and you’ll see that it has 47 different prefectures, and every year Japan’s Brand Research Institute conducts a survey asking respondents to rate the attractiveness of Japan’s prefectures.

To clarify, the survey isn’t about which prefecture has good-looking people, but which prefectures people in Japan have good feelings about. After tallying the responses from roughly 35,000 participants, last week this year’s results were announced, and at the top of the rankings is Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture.

Hokkaido also finished first in the survey last year, and in fact it’s had the top spot for 13 years in a row now, ever since the first time the survey was held back in 2009. Meanwhile, all the way down at the opposite end of the list is Ibaraki. The attractiveness survey has never been kind to the eastern coastal survey. Last year it finished in 42nd place, which was actually cause for celebration after seven consecutive years before that in 47th, but in the latest survey it’s once again back at the bottom.

Following Hokkaido in the top five are Kyoto, Okinawa, Tokyo, and Osaka, in that order, all of which kept their positions from last year with the exception of Osaka, which moved up from sixth place and swapped positions with Kanagawa. It’s not hard to imagine why they all did well. Hokkaido has stunning mountain scenery and mild summers, while Okinawa boasts beautiful beaches and warm winters. Kyoto has its elegant cultural pedigree and temple architecture, and Tokyo and Osaka are the two most bustling cities in the country, filled with all sorts of contemporary entertainment options. They’re all known for delicious food, too, such as Hokkaido’s crab, Okinawa soki soba noodles, Kyoto yudofu tofu hot pot, Osaka takoyaki, and Tokyo’s unparalleled restaurant variety.

▼ Kyoto’s Daigoji Temple

Photo: Pakutaso

There’s decidedly less glamour and gourmet appeal at the other end of the list, which consisted of:

42 (tie). Yamaguchi

42 (tie). Tokushima

44. Gunma

45. Saitama

46. Saga

47. Ibaraki

However, calling those the least attractive prefectures in Japan is giving them a bum rap, because the formula used to determine the rankings is sort of strange.

Survey participants were asked to select how they felt about each of Japan’s prefectures, with their options being “very attractive,” “moderately attractive,” “neither attractive nor unattractive,” “not very attractive,” or “completely unattractive.” If a prefecture was listed as “very attractive” it was awarded 100 points, and for “moderately attractive” it got 50 points. All other responses were worth zero points, and the survey’s final rankings were determined by the average number of points each prefecture received from respondents.

Since the survey doesn’t account for any difference between indifference and dislike, the prefectures at the bottom of the list might not necessarily be there because people think they’re bad places so much as because they don’t have well-known characteristics that make them stick out in people’s minds. Many of them lack claim-to-fame foodstuffs, and while they all have their own charms, several of them are overshadowed by their neighbors. Saitama’s cities aren’t as big and bright as Tokyo’s. Gunma’s mountains are beautiful, but many travelers go right past them and head to Nagano’s Japan alps. Yamaguchi sits between Hiroshima and Fukuoka, both of which have more numerous sightseeing attractions and easier transportation access.

▼ This nondescript shot of Ibaraki’s Hitachi Ota Station also works as a visual metaphor for many survey respondents’ perception of the prefecture.

Photo: Pakutaso

So really, Ibaraki continuing to finish last on the list shouldn’t be taken as a sign that it’s the most unpleasant or dull part of Japan, just that it’s one that most people don’t have a specific pre-existing positive mental image of, even though this time of year is a great time to visit the prefecture.

Source: Brand Research Institute via NHK News Web via Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Aichi and specifically Nagoya has to be the least appealing. No significant tourist sights, bad infrastructure for people w/o cars, and the least friendly and cheapest people in all of Japan.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

further proof that surveys are deeply flawed

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Anywhere in Shikoku isn't anywhere near the top of that list, that's for sure.

-12 ( +0 / -12 )

Nagano should be above Tokyo and Osaka for sure.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Tokyo and Osaka are the two most bustling cities in the country

The usual image of Tokyo is an awful conglomeration of glass and concrete, asphalt, traffic, and neon, but Tokyo also has beautiful warm semi-tropical coral seas, wildlife that earns it World Heritage status, and warm winters - down in the Bonins.

Chalk and cheese.

(I love cheese).

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Kurume City in Kyushu should be at the top of the list.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

People are born different and they are bound to be attracted to different prefectures…some would laugh at Tokyo making the top 4 saying it should have been in the 40’s! Others would think it should be number 1!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Ibaraki is indeed a dire place. My fav. these days is the highlands of central and western Fukushima - spectacular!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

My favorite place in Japan by far is where I live Ishikawa Notohanto region. Other places Shiga especially Makino biwako area, Kyoto especially Tango Hanto, Mie Ken Ise Shima area. Akita Ken Tazawako, Hokkaido otaru, Diasen koen. Some areas I really enjoy.

My two favorite cities are Kanazawa and Kyoto. Only big city I enjoy in Japan is Osaka.

Tokyo, anywhere in The Kanto Region, rediciously overpopulated cities and areas with no natural beauty do not appeal to me nor do I ever go there unless I have too. These regions are my least favorite.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

The usual image of Tokyo is an awful conglomeration of glass and concrete

I think you mean your image of Tokyo is an awful conglomeration of glass and concrete. Many of my coworkers transferred here from other parts of Japan were delighted to do so.

Tokyo is a great city. So much to do and see. New things popping up all the time. I lived in a dire satellite city of Tokyo for a time but moved back to Tokyo. I travelled across Japan for work and pleasure - nowhere else comes close to it,

I’ll miss Tokyo when I leave. I’ll very probably come back to visit.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Tokyo, ..... with no natural beauty 

Please see above. Far-flung bits of Tokyo are scrumptious.

I think you mean your image of Tokyo is an awful conglomeration of glass and concrete.

Yes it is. And far too many people.

Tokyo is a great city. So much to do and see. New things popping up all the time

It depends on what you want to do and see. My idea of a good living environment is being able to walk the dogs through green fields without worrying too much about traffic or PM2.5, egrets and herons popping up through the tall grass all the time, more wildlife scuttling about underfoot depending on the season.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I think you mean your image of Tokyo is an awful conglomeration of glass and concrete.

Yes it is. 

That’s how you see it. Maybe you need to see a bit more.

It’s far from just glass and concrete.

Tokyo is hardly noted for its architecture but there are places of beauty and history. The Nezu/Sendagi area is lined with lovely old buildings and I know a few cracking traditional restaurants and izakaya round there. Shibamata has the old, downtown feeling, while Chidorigafuchi is as lovely as you’ll see in the spring. My wife likes crafts and went shopping in the old shopping areas of Asakusabashi - they are lovely. Some beautiful parks, gardens, cemeteries there too. I could go on for quite a while here.

The image of Tokyo as ‘an awful conglomeration of glass and concrete’ misses out so much of what is there. Tokyo isn’t just the glass and concrete of Otemachi or Shinjuku ( had a few cracking nights out there ).

I understand you prefer the countryside, but your description of Tokyo is way off.

I really recommend seeing more of it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

> shogun36Today 09:05 am JST

Anywhere in Shikoku isn't anywhere near the top of that list, that's for sure.

You obviously have not been to Kochi or Tokushima, such as the Iya Valley, Iya Kazurabashi bridge etc..

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I travel constantly and have been to every prefecture. They are all amazing and traveling during the pandemic has been out of this world. Great people, food, and sites. Bring back go to travel and let me spend even more.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Nonsense, kyoto is terrible now. It's depends on what u are looking for. which uneducated body did this survey???

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Here we go again with these tourist-heavy responses. Have any of the respondents considered what it would be like to live through a long, brutal Hokkaido winter? Or the myriad inconveniences that would come with living in a place like Okinawa? But that's where people would like to travel during the high season, so that's what ends up high on the list.

Ibaraki certainly deserves its low ranking. There's no doubt that much of the prefecture is the most dire sort of inaka. But it's not all a wasteland either. Mt. Tsukuba has good hiking and sightseeing, Tsukuba Circuit is great for motorsports fans, Hitachi Kaihin Koen can be very impressive, there are actual halfway-decent beaches, and Kasumigaura has lot of great cycling options, for example.

And if you're raising a family in Japan, the Tsukuba Express corridor (Tsukuba/Tsukuba Mirai/Moriya) might compete well with any suburb in Japan for convenience and quality of life. But that's not what people think of when they consider vacation destinations, so it doesn't help in the rankings.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A good place to live isn't necessarily a good place to visit, and vice versa.

The occasional visit to Tokyo, for shopping etc., is fine, and showing overseas visitors round the tourist spots is fun; but I most certainly would not want to live there.

Conversely, I love the place I live, would not want to live anywhere else; but I fully understand that it has nothing to tickle the tourist mind.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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