Photo: Pakutaso

Top 10 most desirable Japanese prefectures to live in may show new trend toward small-city living

By Dale Roll, SoraNews24

Japan is a great place to live, but not every prefecture is created equal, apparently. Japanese people have perceptions of the best prefectures to live in, and as it turns out, opinions vary greatly.

Last year, Tokyo was voted as the best prefecture to live in, but earlier this year, Fukui looked like a great place to live on paper, though citizens begged to differ. And just a few months ago, Hokkaido was voted as the best place to settle down in. Every survey shows different results…and with coronavirus still threatening the world’s populations, opinions might have changed again, because there’s a new ranking in town, and neither Tokyo nor Hokkaido nor Fukui are at the top of its list.

▼ I mean what’s not to love about the glittering lights and bustling crowds of Tokyo (except for the impending risk of infection)

Photo: Pakutaso

Brand Research Institute’s annual Regional Brand Survey asked 31,734 respondents from across the country to rate each prefecture based on their perceptions of it in 84 different categories, including appeal, recognition, and image.

Chiefly, the survey asked respondents whether they would like to live in each prefecture, with five levels of responses available: “I really want to live there,” “I’d like to live there”, “I wouldn’t mind living there”, “I don’t feel one way or another about living there”, and “I don’t really want to live there”. Each answer was worth a specific amount of points (100 for the first, then 50, then 25, and 0 for the last two). The weighted average of all the responses for each prefecture determined its position in the ranking.

Last year’s survey saw Tokyo voted as the top most desirable city to live in, with a score of 26.3 points, but this year, Kanagawa Prefecture, which borders Tokyo and is a popular residential area for Tokyo commuters, clawed its way back to the top after losing to Tokyo last year, bumping its neighbor back down to number two. Altogether 50.1 percent of respondents said they were interested in living in Kanagawa (either very interested, interested, or mildly interested according to the top three answers above), earning the prefecture 21.3 points

▼ Honestly, it’s no surprise, as Kanagawa is host to Yokohama, which was selected as the most desirable city to live in.

Photo: Pakutaso

The race was close, as Tokyo earned just 0.8 points less than Kanagawa. Here’s the full top 10 list:

  1. Kanagawa (21.3 points)
  2. Tokyo (20.5 points)
  3. Hokkaido (19.1 points)
  4. Kyoto (18.7 points)
  5. Okinawa (17.0 points)
  6. Fukuoka (15.6 points)
  7. Osaka (15.4 points)
  8. Hyogo (13.3 points)
  9. Chiba (12.7 points)
  10. Shizuoka (12.2 points)

Prefectures with Japan’s biggest cities still seemed to dominate the list, but there was a lot of shuffling around this year. Only Hokkaido, Fukuoka, and Chiba held their positions from last year; the rest were bumped down by Okinawa. In fact, Okinawa jumped up three rankings this year, earning 2.1 more desirability points than last year. Overall the island prefecture appears have grown in appeal to younger people; nearly a third of respondents in their twenties and a fifth of respondents in their thirties selected “I really want to live there” or “I’d like to live there”.

▼ With views like this, who could blame them?

Photo: Pakutaso

Shizuoka Prefecture, one of the two prefectures that claims Mt. Fuji, made its debut in the top 10 this year, bumping out Aichi, home to Japan’s fourth largest city, Nagoya. But why are smaller, more rural prefectures moving up in popularity when cities have always had the edge? Brand Research Institute believes it’s because of coronavirus.

Tokyo’s relatively high coronavirus infection rate compared to the rest of the country has likely had an influence on its appeal, as this year Tokyo’s desirability points actually dropped 5.8 points compared to last year. In fact, representatives at Brand Research Institute think that the pandemic as a whole has caused people to shift from desiring convenience to preferring nature, which might be why more rural prefectures like Okinawa and Shizuoka climbed higher on the list than last year.

▼ Coastal onsen resort area Atami is one desirable place in Shizuoka to live.

Photo: Pakutaso

Okinawa and Shizuoka are, of course, also home to large cities, so it may be that people still want a little bit of convenience, but with a dash of remoteness as well. The city rankings also saw smaller cities like Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture make huge leaps in preference, so perhaps people are just looking for something a little less crowded and a little more safe in light of the pandemic.

Interestingly, the advent of coronavirus has also led an international publication to select Tokyo as the best city not only in Japan but in the world to live in…so it seems that everybody has their own opinion! Where in Japan do you want to live?

Source: Daimond Online via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Survey ranks Tokyo as the most desirable Japanese prefecture to live in, bumping Kanagawa to #2

-- Japanese survey ranks Hokkaido as the most desirable prefecture to settle down in

-- Online survey sheds light on prefectural personality rankings of Japanese people

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Tokyo with the most cases of the virus, cramped and expensive living.How about the pollution and continual noise and light?

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Did I also mention the high stress of living in such a place?

0 ( +6 / -6 )

We have lived in Hyogo for 18 years. First for 16 years in Kobe. Now 2 years in Tatsuno near the sea. We love it and a great painting location.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Have you ever actually been to Atami?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Small-town living, huh? Every prefecture listed here either has a major city or is immediately adjacent to a prefecture that has one. (Shizuoka at #10 may be the exception.) When we start seeing places like Tottori, Oita, or Ehime, then maybe we can talk about small-town living.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I find the thought of living in the country unbearable.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

From our location we can easily reach Hiroshima. Tottori. Kobe. Osaka. Kyoto.

Tatsuno City population 80,000 people. That's a small city.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Apart from Kyoto and Okinawa, the selected prefectures are among the ten most populated prefectures in Japan. I'm not sure what that tells us, but it's probably not the best guide to good places to live.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Wow, congested, concrete Kanagawa in first place.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Nice. Most happy that where I live is not on the list. Keep out!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Hey Zichi.

When I do my post retirement sail down to the Seto Inland Sea can I catch u p with you.


0 ( +1 / -1 )


Hey Zichi. 

When I do my post retirement sail down to the Seto Inland Sea can I catch u p with you. 


yes! I'm very easy to find.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If I could do it all over again, I’d have never left Fukuoka.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

When I’m in Japan “Fukuoka” or pretty much anywhere in “Kyushu” is fine if it ain’t Texas. The second place for me would be Hiroshima.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The vox pop says Japanese people like big cities. This is really good news, because most Japanese people live in really big cities. To appear current, the content written about the vox pop mentions Covid-19 and tries to get some "it's all changing" melodrama going, but its all a bit forced.

I live in inaka myself and like it, but most people don't and don't like the thought of it, for many perfectly valid reasons. Some of these reasons go way beyond "look at the scenery" type superficialities.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Tokyo, the best prefecture to live in?

Probably for people in their 20s just out of the inaka and thirsty for new adventures.

Been living in quite a few places since I came to Japan (some 15 years), including Osaka, Nagoya, Toyama and I got to say Tokyo (where we are living right now) is the least pleasant place to live if compared to all the other places we lived before.

If you live in central Tokyo you will have to fork out at least 40.000-60.000/month just to park your car!!!

People here look like they are dead inside. No, really. The ohayou gozaimasu, otsukaresama desu are so robotic and lacking life, people look tired of life, totally different from Kobe, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Osaka.

Tokyoites are like ants living in the undergrounds, the city can be quite depressing, empty, dark at night if you never take trains and expressways.

Tokyo is so overrated, to the point every youngster from anywhere in Japan want to move here.

So many people from all over the world coming and going, you will never have a sense of community and this can be quite depressing. I used to wait the whole week/month just for the foreign languages chat/salsa clubs/bike groups/international cooking parties where you will always have the same people + a few new people and some farewell parties in between. This is impossible here in Tokyo. What a crowded empty place to live in!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

So many people from all over the world coming and going, you will never have a sense of community and this can be quite depressing

I disagree with that, you just have to find the right neighbourhood for you. I have and it's awesome and I hope one day you do too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

 I used to wait the whole week/month just for the foreign languages chat/salsa clubs/bike groups/international cooking parties where you will always have the same people + a few new people and some farewell parties in between. This is impossible here in Tokyo

I think that is a big part of your problem. There are loads of these groups in Tokyo but if it's continuity of friendships you're missing then you should look to make local friends. They are the real community.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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