The 10 biggest cities of Japan in Japanese

Let’s take a look on which are biggest cities in Japan by population and learn how to write and pronounce them in Japanese. Let’s not just look briefly at these kanjis, but thoroughly; learn about kunyomi, onyomi, meaning and stroke order, and try make connections to the cities. In Japan there are also cities that are capital of different prefectures (府県) but let’s leave that for another lesson. We are ranking the top ten cities of Japan after Tokyo.

1. Tōkyō 東京

Tokyo the huge metropolis,  Japan’s capital. However because Tokyo is made up of special wards, meaning, it contains 23 municipalities it is not technically a city. 1943 Japan decided to merge these municipalities together with Tokyo City into one big core what is Tokyo today. Officially known and governed as a “metropolitan prefecture”. Tokyo is still considered a massive metropolitan, in fact the world biggest metropolitan area by population. An common misinterpretation with the Japanese pronunciation of Tokyo is that it’s actually not just simply the short “Tokyo”, it’s pronounced “Tōkyō” (とうきょう) in Japanese,. The o are long vowels here as in “Toukyou”. However, the spelling has become known as Tokyo and is referred as such.


  • Metropolis: 13,506,607
  • Metro: 37,800,000


capital, 10**16
Kun: みやこ
On: キョウ、 ケイ、 キン

Kun: ひがし
On: トウ

Together they make the word East Capital which makes it easy to remember where it is located geographically.

1. Yokohama 横浜

Yokohama ranks as the biggest city after Tokyo.

  • Population: 3.689 million


Another helpful name for remembering that Yokohama is located close to the water, coasting Tokyo Bay (東京)湾) south of Tokyo.

sideways, side,horizontal, width, woof,unreasonable, perverse
Kun: よこ
On: オウ

seacoast, beach,seashore
Kun: はま
On: ヒン

2. Osaka 大阪

Literately translates as “large hill”, or “large slope”.

  • Population: 2.665 million

big slope

large, big
Kun: おお-、 おお.きい、 -おお.いに
On: ダイ、 タイ

heights, slope
Kun: さか
On: ハン

3. Nagoya 名古屋

  • Population: 2.264 million


name, noted, distinguished, reputation
Kun: な、 -な
On: メイ、 ミョウ

Kun: ふる.い、 ふる-、 -ふる.す
On: コ

roof, house, shop, dealer, seller
Kun: や
On: オク

4. Sapporo 札幌

Ever heard of Sapporo beer? Chances that you have aren’t too small. It’s one of Sapporo’s prides along with the city’s great skiing area and the incredible enormous ice sculptures during their annual winter festival.

  • Population: 1.914 million

tag canopy

tag, paper money, counter for bonds, placard, bid
Kun: ふだ
On: サツ

canopy, awning, hood, curtain
Kun: ほろ、 とばり
On: コウ

5. 神戸 Kobe

Famous for its great quality meat.

  • Population: 1.544 million


gods, mind, soul
Kun: かみ、 かん-、 こう-
On: シン、 ジン

door, counter for houses
Kun: と
On: コ

6. 京都 Kyoto

The city with probably more fame than previous more populated cities because of it’s rich history. A city that has a lot of castles, templates and jinas to be found all over the city. A old capital.

  • Population: 1.474 million


capital, 10**16
Kun: みやこ
On: キョウ、 ケイ、 キン

metropolis, capital, all, everything
Kun: みやこ
On: ト、 ツ

7. 福岡 Fukuoka

  • Population: 1.464 million


blessing, fortune, luck, wealth
On: フク

mount, hill, knoll
Kun: おか
On: コウ

8.川崎 Kawasaki

  • Population: 1.426 million


stream, river, river or three-stroke river radical (no. 47)
Kun: かわ
On: セン

promontory, cape, spit
Kun: さき、 さい、 みさき
On: キ

9. 埼玉 Saitama

  • Population: 1.222 million


cape, spit, promontory
Kun: さき、 さい、 みさき
On: キ

jewel, ball
Kun: たま、 たま-、 -だま
On: ギョク

10. 広島 Hiroshima

  • Population: 1.174 million


wide, broad, spacious
Kun: ひろ.い、 ひろ.まる、 ひろ.める、 ひろ.がる、 ひろ.げる
On: コウ

Kun: しま
On: トウ


Population data from UNdata 2010.
Information about each kanji data fetched through