Japan is a great country to live in and one of my favourite countries to travel and after exploring for several months around the country this is what I would recommend for the best places to live in Japan.
The best idea is to choose a city to live in that is in an area of interest to you. For example if you’re more interested in culture then Kyoto would be a great choice and if you want access for pristine nature close to a city then Sapporo is the way to go.
Best Places To Live In Japan
Osaka is my overall favourite city in Japan and if I had to choose a city in Japan to live in then I would choose Osaka.
I spent 1 month in Osaka in total and explored not just all of the city but also the nearby countryside, towns, and cities.
Osaka really is the best city as far as a location goes to see a lot of things and there are awesome day trips from Osaka that can be done.
The big bonus of Osaka is that it is also cheaper and (I found) more friendly than Tokyo.
Tokyo is the number one choice for most people looking to live in Japan and for good reason.
It’s a massive metropolis offering everything one could want in a big city and is hyper-modern to go with it.
Yet amongst all the modern high-tech things are a feeling of the past with hidden shrines and temples scattered around.
Read: What to do in Tokyo
If you like the option of a big city but very close to nature and more remote then Sapporo is a good place to be.
Plus if you like sushi it gets some of the freshest you can get.
Located in the far north on Hokkaido island it has great access for nature hikes and in winter some great skiing options.
It’s also easily connected to the rest of Japan by budget flights and fast shinkansen trains.
Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan and, along with Tokyo, one of the most visited cities in Japan.
It was spared the bombings of WW2 due to its cultural heritage and the ancient temples survive today making it the best overall city in Japan for culture and history.
But, being Japan, it also has everything modern you could want for as well. So if history mixed with the modern is what you want then Kyoto makes a great choice.
Just be aware that many tourists visit Kyoto so if you’re planning to live in Japan and want a more ‘Japanese’ experience away from crowds of foreigners then think about Osaka as an option as you can live there and be only 15 minutes by train away from Kyoto anyway.
Matsuyama doesn”t appear on many peoples itineraries for Japan (from the many people I have spoken to who have visited Japan almost all of them didn’t visit there) which is a pity as it’s one of the best cities in Japan.
First of all it’s got some epic history there with the famous Dogo Onsen and Matsuyama Castle, but it also has fast access to the wilder interior of Shikoku island.
It’s also easy to get to Kyushu island by ferry to explore around there and Hiroshima is also only a few hours away by ferry.
Kagoshima is located in the south of Kyushu island and is overlooked by a huge active volcano just 1 mile across the sea.
The city is perfect location wise for living close to the natural beauty of Kyushu island and its famed onsen towns.
If you want a bigger city to be in and want to be on Kyushu island then go for Fukuoka.
Living in Japan
Wherever you choose to live in Japan you can’t really go wrong and you can explore the other parts of Japan by reaching them through budget flights and the excellent train network.
There are plenty more options for the best places to live in Japan but from my experience these represent the best ones in different locations.
If you don’t like the idea of living in a city and want something quieter then there are lots of remote locations that you would love. Want to really get away from it all then options like Rishiri island in the far north of Japan would be great, for example.
Japan is a great place to live so if you’re thinking about living in Japan just go for it.
One great way to live there and work is to teach English in Japan, a popular option with foreigners living there. Think about getting a TEFL certificate if you’re thinking about teaching English there as it can help in getting a job.
This is a foreigners experience of living in Japan.
For lots more information on Japan take a look at my overall guide for Japan.