Here’s a detailed stats on the most populated cities in Japan as of 2023 along with traffic data. Check it out!
Japan is known for its unique tradition, distinctive gardens, eye-catching cherry blossoms, sacred mountains, relaxing hot springs, religious chapels, and so on.
As it is a famous destination for travelers for attractive locations and festivals, people often get curious about how much crowd they may face while visiting this country.
It has ranked number 11 in the list of countries by population in 2019 and 2020.
And, for over a decade (2005 to 2018), it held the number 10 position in the world.
As of Wednesday, February 22, 2023, Japan’s total population is 125,457,430 based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data.
So, you may already guess that this country is overly crowded, especially in big cities.
Are you worried? Well, you shouldn’t be!
Although it has a high population, the people of Japan are well-organized, clean, modest, and know-how to represent their country’s culture and attractions to outsiders.
Anyway, today I will let you know about the most populous cities in Japan with some valuable information regarding each place.
Here’s quick summary of the estimated population and area of Japanese cities.
|City||Estimated Population (2023)||Area||Density / km2|
|Tokyo||35.8 million||847 mi².||6,158.00|
|Yokohama||3.8 million||168.9 mi².||8,606|
|Osaka||19 million||86.1 mi².||11,836.00|
|Nagoya||9.6 million||126 mi².||7,140.60|
|Sapporo||2.6 milliion||433 mi².||1,761.88|
|Fukuoka||5.5 million||132.6 mi².||4,700.00|
|Kobe||1.5 million||213.2 mi².||2,779.00|
|Kyoto||1.46 million||319.6 mi².||1,800.00|
|Kawasaki||1.42 million||55.73 mi².||11,000.00|
|Saitama||1.22 million||83.95 mi².||6,093.00|
Hopefully, it will help you in various ways.
10 Most Populous Cities in Japan with Area & Density
Before describing each city individually, I want to give you a quick overview of their approximate populace and other important information.
Remember that these data may vary from time to time.
From the table above you can see that all the 10 most populated cities in Japan have over 1 million people, and even the density per km is higher than some other metropolises in the world.
By the way, all of these ten places are popular tourist destinations and have modern facilities and communication systems.
As for now, I will describe each city one by one so that you can have a broad concept about them.
Let’s go for it.
Tokyo, The Capital of Japan, Has The Highest Population in Japan
Tokyo is situated on the largest island of Japan, which is Honshu.
Many people don’t know that it was once a small fishing village named Edo.
Over the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the name was changed to Tokyo. And from this time, the city started to grow rapidly economically.
That’s why by 1900, its population passed 2 million, and in 1940 it became home to more than 7 million people.
The only time it saw major residents decline was at the time of World War II.
When Japan surrendered in 1945, Tokyo’s total number of inhabitants was just 3.5 million.
The major reason behind this was the airstrike that took nearly 100,000 people’s lives in Tokyo on March 9, 1945.
And around a million were estimated to be left homeless and temporarily left the city.
However, after the end of the war, the city started to gain its residents again.
Now it’s the most populated city in Japan and one of the best living areas for foreigners.
Tokyo is Japan’s leading industrial center with a highly diverse manufacturing base.
It includes book printing and electronic equipment production.
It’s also a major financial center and home to several investment banks and insurance companies headquarters, serving as the focal point of Japan’s transportation and broadcasting industries.
Head offices of Honda Motor, Mitsubishi, Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, Sony, Hitachi, and Tokyo Electric Power are situated in Tokyo.
Tokyo’s Public Transport & Traffic Data
Residents of Tokyo require an average of 41 minutes for one-way travel to their job from home.
The level of inefficient traffic in Tokyo is moderate. Generally, the people here overcome the distance of 14.51 km daily.
Metro is the most used transportation of this city because it’s quick and less expensive, yet buses and taxis are also highly used for transportation.
Point to be noted that, within the office hour, the metro gets overpacked with people.
Yokohama: The Most Populous Municipality of Japan
Yokohama is situated about 20 miles southwest of Tokyo.
It was one of the places to open for trading with the west after 1859 and since then has been known as a cosmopolitan port city.
Yokohama was wracked by the Tokyo-Yokohama earthquake and consequent fire in September 1923 that killed nearly 20,000 people.
Although the city was rebuilt quickly, unfortunately, it saw colossal damage again by the Allied air raids during World War II.
However, this time reconstruction was hampered by the U.S occupation of Japan (1945-52).
In 1950, the pace of rebuilding fastened, and the population started to increase quickly after 1960.
And, by the year 1980, the city surpassed Osaka to become the second-largest city in Japan by population.
Most of this city’s foreign population includes Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos, and Vietnamese.
Yokohama has the company headquarters of JVCKenwood, Nissan, Keikyu, Bank of Yokohama, Sotetsu, and Koei Tecmo.
Famous landmarks of this city include Nippon Maru Memorial Park, Yokohama Chinatown, Minato Mirai 21, Motomachi Shopping Street, Yamashita Park, Yokohama Marine Tower, and Osanbashi Pier.
Along with the shipping, biotechnology, and semiconductor industries, these industries play a significant role in the thriving economy of Yokohama.
Yokohama’s Public Transport & Traffic Data
Inhabitants of Yokohama need on average 59 minutes for a one-way journey from home to their job location.
Even the traffic jams are relatively high here compared to some megacities in Japan.
Usually, the people here use a bus for transportation, also who travel to Tokyo for job purposes mostly commute in the metro for easy and quick movements.
As it is well-connected by highways and railways with Tokyo and other urban areas, many people choose to live here for cheap living expenses while working in Tokyo.
Osaka’s 2023 Population is Estimated at 19,013,000 (a 0.25% decline from 2022)
Osaka is one of the most densely populated cities in Japan, with over 12,000 people living per square kilometer.
It is home to nearly 19.1 million people in the urban area, and over 2.6 million residents live in the city center.
The Great Kanto earthquake caused a mass emigration to Osaka between the years 1920 and 1930. At that time, it outnumbered even Tokyo in terms of residents.
Around 1 million registered expats live in Osaka, and the largest groups are Korean and Chinese with 71,015 and 11,848 people respectively.
Osaka is considered one of Japan’s economic hubs.
Although this city is often viewed as having a less strong economy than Tokyo, it actually has a bigger providence and is home to major multinational corporations such as Panasonic, Osaka Securities Exchange, and Sharp.
Osaka prefecture holds a total manufacturing value of around 38 trillion yen.
While having approximately 440,000 places of business in the prefecture, the city area has 200,000.
Moreover, there are 433 stock exchange companies’ headquarters situated within Osaka province.
Osaka’s Public Transport & Traffic Data
Around 27 minutes (on average) are needed for one-way travel from home to the job location, and the traffic here is moderate.
The people of Osaka use private cars, bikes, trams, and of course the metro for quick communication.
Nagoya’s 2023 Population Is Estimated At 9,569,000 (a 0.03% decline from 2022)
From 1950 to 1996, the population of Nagoya increased by around 1% each year.
However, from 1997 to 2000, it saw a 0.06% decrease in citizens.
After that, the growth rate is consistent (0.15% to 0.56%), resulting in today’s community.
The main industry of Nagoya is the automotive business.
Toyota’s head office is in the nearby city of Toyota, and PPG also has an existence in Nagoya.
After the shogunate ended, this city continued to be a significant commercial center.
The development of Nagoya’s port and the abundant hydroelectric power from the rivers of Honshu cause the growth of the heavy industry here.
And, now the production of bicycles, sewing machines, chemicals, special steels, oil, petrochemicals, and shipbuilding industries is the reason for its ongoing economic rise.
Nagoya’s Public Transport & Traffic Data
On average, nearly 32 minutes is required to reach a job destination from home for a one-way move.
And, the traffic problem is moderate, not causing much time delay for communication.
The rail network is fairly dense, with 3 million passengers commuting daily, yet much lower than Tokyo and Osaka.
For above-ground and below-ground rail lines, the Tokaido Shinkansen provides service for intercity transportation.
There are 59 passenger rail lines and two tourist-oriented cable car lines, the Gozaisho Ropeway and Kinkazen Ropeway in Nagoya.
Sapporo’s Population Is Estimated At 2,666,000 in 2023
Sapporo is the biggest city in Hokkaido, which is in the northernmost main island of Japan.
It is well-known among tourists for being a fantastic winter destination in this country.
One famous celebration that takes place here is the Sapporo Snow Festival.
And, around two million tourists come here to enjoy this feast annually.
Anyway, even though it’s one of the largest cities in Japan by population, the density per square km is low because of its broad area.
One of the main reasons behind its population growth is foreign nationals working at various resorts in Sapporo.
As it’s one of the central tourist spots in Japan, new employment attracts workers with a focus on foreign stuff.
That’s why the city area has many foreign residents along with locals.
Sapporo’s prominent industries are IT, retail, and tourism, as it is a great place to enjoy winter sports and summer activities for a cool climate.
It is also the production center of Hokkaido. Various goods like food-related products, steel, beverages, pulp, paper, machinery, and fabricated metal products are manufactured here.
The Sapporo Breweries, set up in 1876, is a huge company and employer in this city.
Sapporo’s Public Transport & Traffic Data
The city sees traffic congestion during heavy snowfall in winter.
Also, during this period many visitors come to this place for holiday resulting in some inconvenience regarding transportation.
It’s highly recommended not to use rental cars often for communication which may create traffic jams.
The Sapporo Municipal Subway is the most available form of transportation for sightseeing.
As major stations are connected to buses, streetcars, and JR lines, many citizens use the subway for commuting to school and work.
Fukuoka’s Population Reduced By 0.24% in 2023 And Is Estimated At 5,490,000
Fukuoka is the capital of Kyushu and the second-largest port city after Yokohama.
It is the most populous city on this island, followed by Kitakyushu.
In July 2011, Fukuoka passed the population of Kyoto, and as of 2015, it surpassed Kobe.
The 2020 preliminary data of the national census showed that this city had experienced a five-year mass growth of 4.9%, the fastest among the ordinance-designated cities in Japan.
One of the primary causes of this change is the heavy industrial rise in Fukuoka.
Fukuoka’s economy is mainly focused on the service sector. It is also the most prominent startup city in Japan.
The city provides services for a startup visa, free business consultation, and tax reduction.
Fukuoka has the maximum business-opening rate in Japan.
The home office of Kyushu Electric Power and Iwataya is located here.
Apart from that, many small firms play a supportive role in the IT, logistics, and high-tech manufacturing sectors.
Fukuoka‘s Public Transport & Traffic Data
A one-way ride from home to the office is around 26 minutes (on average).
So, you can guess that traffic congestion doesn’t often occur here.
Besides the metro, people use trams, bikes, and private cars for easy commuting.
Kobe’s Population As Of 2023 Is 1,538,840
The tools found in western Kobe indicate that this area was populated at least from the Jomon Period.
As of 2007, it is home to 658,876 households, and there are around 90.2 males to every 100 females.
About 13% of the total people are between the ages of 0 to 14, 67% are 15 to 64, and 20% are over 65.
In Kobe, about 44,000 enrolled foreign nationals live, most of them are Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and American.
Kobe is both a manufacturing and port center in the Hanshin Industrial Region.
The four large sectors regarding the value of goods produced are food products, small appliances, transportation equipment, and communication tools that makeup over 50% of the city’s produced stuff.
The main office of Kobe steel, ASICS, Daiei, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries is situated in this city.
Apart from that, over 100 international corporations are placed here. Some of them are from China (24), the U.S (18), and Switzerland (9).
To name a few famous ones, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, and Tempur-Pedic.
Kobe’s Public Transport & Traffic Data
Almost the same amount of time is required to travel inside Kobe as Fukuoka.
Like the other cities, using the metro is the best option for transmission, while the other ones are private cars, bikes, and trams.
Kyoto’s Estimated 2023 Population is 1,459,640
In the past, Kyoto had the biggest community in Japan. Later, it was surpassed by Tokyo and Osaka at the end of the 16th century.
Kyoto exchanged places with Kobe and Nagoya during the pre-war years, ranking as the 4th and 5th positions.
And in 1947, it was able to gain 3rd place in Japan but came back to 5th place again by 1960.
As of 1990, it had fallen to 7th, and recently it’s toggling between 8th and 9th spot.
The key enterprise of Kyoto is IT and electronics and it is home to the central office of Nintendo, SCREEN Holdings, Intelligent Systems, and Nissin Electric.
Since tourists are immensely fond of the beauty of Kyoto, tourism contributes a significant amount of money to its providence.
In 2014, the city government declared that a record number of visitors had toured Kyoto, and it was preferred as one of the best cities by U.S travel magazines.
Kyoto’s Public Transport & Traffic Data
This city’s bus network is extensive, while private carriers are also operated in the city.
As Kyoto’s public and tour buses have English announcements and electronic signs with stops written in the Latin alphabet, travelers widely use them.
Anyway, during the cherry blossom season, the scenic spots get crowded, and mild traffic congestion may occur at those times.
Kawasaki’s Population in 2023 is Estimated at 1,539,081
The rapid civilization of this area began in the Meiji and Taisho eras, which continues to this day.
On July 1, 1924, Kawasaki city was formed with 48,394 inhabitants by merging with the village of Miyuki and the town of Daishi.
During World War II, this area was bombed three times between April 1945 and July 1945.
The most severe attack was in the region where Napalm bombs were blasted on April 15, 1945.
Sadly, these raids destroyed about 35% of the suburb and stated 1,520 dead and 8,759 injured.
After the end of the warfare, the city populace began to grow promptly, and today it has become one of the most densely crowded regions in Japan.
The historical transition of Japan’s modern and traditional industrial remains advanced in Kawasaki because of its well connection with the seafront, landfill areas, and shipbuilding factories.
Numerous developing corporations like JFE Group, Nippon Oil Corporation, and high technology such as Fujitsu, Toshiba, and Dell are situated here that contribute to the city’s providence.
Kawasaki’s Public Transport & Traffic Data
Unfortunately, the residents of this region spend a lot of time in traffic jams.
They need almost 58 minutes (on average) to reach their work destination, which is really high compared to the other Japanese cities.
Anyway, the transportation facility includes cars, metros, buses, and bikes.
Saitama’s Population Is Estimated At 1,220,710 And Ranks 10 in Japan’s Population
Saitama is the capital and the most crowded part of Saitama Prefecture.
As it is closer to central Tokyo (20 minutes train ride), many inhabitants of this city commute to Tokyo from here daily.
Since living costs in Tokyo are expensive, plenty of people choose to live here while working in the capital.
That’s one of the reasons for its growth of inhabitants.
This city is one of Japan’s commercial centers, with the Honda Legend at Sayama Plant, optical, food, pharmaceutical products, etc.
Besides, numerous private companies lead the city to economic prosperity.
Saitama’s Public Transport & Traffic Data
Approximately 40 minutes are required for travelers to permute job destinations, and the traffic condition isn’t bad either.
Omiya Station, a part of the Shinkansen high-speed train network, serves as the railway hub in the prefecture.
Apart from that, buses, taxis, cars, and bikes are also used widely by people.
Hiroshima is the largest city located in Chūgoku region, in the southwestern area of Honshu, Japan’s largest island. It has a population of approximately 2,068,000 and covers an area of approximately 350.1 mi².
Despite its size, Hiroshima has a particularly special place in the hearts of many. This is largely due to its historical significance as the site of the atomic bomb drop by America during the Second World War.
It was on the 6th of August 1945, a Monday morning, when one of the darkest days in the history of humankind took place.
The atomic bomb blast left an inconceivable level of destruction, death, and despair in its wake. An estimated 260,000 people would be killed as a result and over 160,000 were injured.
A single B-29 Superfortress known as the Enola Gay, after the name of the pilot’s mother, dropped the atomic bomb over Hiroshima.
The bomb’s blast was seen from 60 miles away. From the center of the explosion, temperatures reached 4000 degrees Celsius, with those caught in the near vicinity feeling a searing heat that left their skin cracked and charred.
The impact of the blast was so powerful it triggered a 16-foot-high tsunami crashing into the coastal areas. In the days that followed, Hiroshima was scarred with the loss of a city.
However, Hiroshima’s story is not one of despair and sadness alone. The city has since arisen from the ruins and has evolved into an internationally recognized symbol of peace.
Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park has become a popular tourist destination, where a visitor can learn about the events that took place on that fateful day.
From the great tragedy of Hiroshima, a culture of peace has emerged. Residents have come to embrace Hiroshima’s legacy with a positive outlook, spurred on by the messages of hope and survival in the face of disaster.
Hiroshima is no longer defined by its past but instead, it is a modern-day city thriving from economic growth, success, and vibrancy.
Hiroshima’s story is not only about the tragedy that occurred on August 6th, 1945 but rather, it is a story of resilience, rebirth, and hope for a brighter future.
Hiroshima will forever remain an important symbol in the history of Japan and the world, reminding us all of the unwelcome consequences of war and the importance of embracing peace and living together in harmony.
Sendai is the 12th most populated city in Japan. With a current population of 2,342,000 and a growth rate of 0.09% since 2022, it is a bustling and highly populated city.
Founded in the year 601 A.D., Sendai is one of the oldest major cities in Japan, earning it the nickname of “The City of Trees.”
Located in Miyagi Prefecture, Sendai is the largest city within the Tōhoku region of Japan. Spreading across 303.4 mi², the city is mixed with urban and rural areas and divided into five districts.
Of these five districts, Izumi, Wakabayashi and Miyagino have traditionally been residential, while Aoba and Taihaku have typically had an industrial presence.
Nowadays, these rotations are changing as the city is coming closer towards urbanizing.
Sendai is considered to be a major transportation hub with both railway and highway lines connected to various places throughout the Tohoku region.
Three underground malls lined with stores, restaurants and shops are also located near Sendai Station. For those interested in leisure activities, Sendai city has a wide range of activities to chose from.
Nature lovers can take advantage of the plethora of parks while shopping enthusiasts have the chance to explore the numerous malls and shopping centers, some of which are covered in lush greenery.
The city is also culturally significant, with two UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Sendai—the Osaki Hachiman Shrine and the sen maida terraced paddy fields of Zuigan-Ji, Matsuo-Ji, and Takine-Ji temples.
Taking a stroll down Aoba Street (also known as the Street of Heaven) or touring the Zuihoden Mausoleum and the Hashikami Kaii Museum of Art are just some of the attractions that can be found in Sendai.
From culinary wonders such as the Oyster Mentaiko Nama-cha zuke, to its many festivals including Otaue Matsuri and the Tanabata one, there is something special in Sendai for everyone to enjoy.
Sendai truly is a city that prides itself in its cultural richness and vibrant atmosphere.
With its many cultural events, delicious food and its historical background, Sendai has an enduring charm that won’t disappoint.
Although you came here to know about the most populated cities in Japan, I hope the extra information was helpful for you.
Note that some data may vary from time to time for many reasons.
And, lastly, have a good day.