Japan, also called the “Land of the Rising Sun,” is an East Asian island country. Its capital is Tokyo. On another note, it lies along the Pacific Ring of Fire, which explains the large number of active volcanoes in the area. Furthermore, it has 6,852 islands.

The country’s major religions include Shinto, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Additionally, there is a small population of Christians in Japan as well. Moving on, it is one of the most visited Asian-Pacific countries. This is not a surprising fact as the picturesque archipelago is home to a lot of wondrous landmarks such as Mount Fuji, Shibuya Crossing, The Island Shrine of Itsukushima, Osaka Castle, and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Not to mention, Japanese cuisine brings an amazing delight to the taste buds, and anyone who visits the country should not miss out on some of their best dishes such as ramen, yakitori, donburi, korokke, and mochi.

Moreover, Japan is a top choice for people who plan on pursuing their education abroad. This is because of the nation’s remarkable quality of education and research as well as the fact that the government is known for offering generous scholarships to incoming tertiary students from overseas. In recent years, the estimated number of international students enrolled in Japanese educational institutions is around 280,000. In this article, we will be looking at the best cities in Japan for international students!

Top Cities in Japan for International Students

1. Tokyo

A Japanese city full of life that was once referred to as Edo, Tokyo is a must-visit for all tourists and an excellent city for aspiring international students in Japan. Additionally, it is also the best student city for prospective international students. In line with that, the location’s current population is approximately 37.2 million.

Being the country’s biggest business and recreational site, it is only natural that one will not run out of things to do, places to see, and food to try in Tokyo. Such places one should not miss out on include The Imperial Palace, Ginza District, Sensō-ji Temple, Ueno Park, Zoo, and of course, the Tokyo National Museum.

Going back to students who aspire to take up their tertiary studies abroad, there are several esteemed colleges and universities in the area. A few of these include the Tokyo University of Science, Tokyo City University, Tokyo Metropolitan University, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, and Tokyo Institute of Technology.

From the name itself, Tokyo Medical and Dental University is a higher education institution for future medical and dental experts. It is a highly regarded one in Japan, as it is the country’s first-ever national school for dentistry having been established in 1928.

2. Osaka

Popular for being the next biggest metropolitan city following Tokyo, Osaka is another location in Japan that is very much full of energy and enthusiasm, and a top city to study for international students in the country. In the olden days, it was called Naniwa. Its population, presently, is around 19 million.

Once in Osaka, one should not forget to take a trip to Osaka Castle, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, Tempozan Harbor Village, The Kobe Port Tower, and Osaka Science Museum. As for the schools in the city, the most prominent ones are Osaka City University, Osaka Institute of Technology, Osaka University of Economics, Morinomiya University of Medical Sciences, and Soai University.

Soai University is among Japan’s oldest higher education institutions, as it began welcoming students in 1888. Back then, only females were permitted to enroll in the university. On the other hand, Osaka City University is a distinguished center of excellence with roots dating back to the year 1880. It was previously named Osaka Commercial Training Institute. Even before, it had the reputation of being a solid option for students who wanted to study commerce and industry-focused courses or programs.

3. Kyoto

Kyoto is popular for being a Japanese culturally rich place as it is where one can find numerous heritage sites such as the Nijo Castle, Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine, The Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku-ji, Kiyomizu-Dera Temple, and the geisha district of Gion. Moreover, the city has about 1.5 million residents at present.

As mentioned above, the geisha district of Gion can be found in the area. More on this topic, geishas are female entertainers or performers who are typically present during special Japanese occasions. Adding to this, the place houses a good variety of restaurants, teahouses, as well as temples.

When it comes to universities, Kyoto is one of the best cities to study in Japan. The best ones spread out in the city are Kyoto University, Kyoto University of the Arts, Kyoto Women’s University, Kyoto Sangyo University, and Doshisha University.

Students who are up for a challenge should consider applying to Doshisha University as it is famed for being a particularly selective institution. Other than that, it is also a renowned institute for higher studies in Japan. Some of the university’s alumni include respected Japanese politician Takako Doi, author David Zoppetti, and a video game designer who is credited for the original Game Boy design Gunpei Yokoi.

4. Nagoya

Situated in the Aichi region of Japan, Nagoya is one of Japan’s largest and best cities to study for international students and many people may recognize it as the location of world-famous automotive factories like Mitsubishi and Toyota. However, there’s more to the city other than being a central hub of the said industry. In Nagoya, tourists will be delighted with the sights of the Atsuta Jingu Shrine, Meiji Village, Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Legoland Japan, and Nagoya Castle.

Nagoya’s tertiary education institutes include Nagoya University, Nagoya Institute of Technology, Nagoya Gakuin University, Meijo University, and Nagoya Women’s University. In relation to this, Nagoya Institute of Technology, or NITech is an outstanding learning center that opened its doors to students in 1905. Although, it used to be known as Nagoya Higher Technical School. It is highly recommended for individuals who are interested in learning areas such as architecture and design, applied chemistry, engineering, science, and the like to check out the said institution.

5. Sendai

Sendai is an excellent city to study in Japan that is a part of the Tohoku Region. There are approximately 2.3 million people residing in the area. It is not commonly flocked by tourists and with that, it is a place that has a lot of hidden gems such as the Aoba Castle Ruins, Zuihoden, and Matsushima.

Tohoku University, Tohoku Institute of Technology – Nagamachi Campus, Tohoku Medical and Pharmaceutical University – Komatsushima Campus, Tohoku Fukushi University, and the Miyagi University of Education are some of the top educational institutions in Sendai.


There are many cities and prefectures where you can live in Japan, but this list mentions the best and preferably the most livable especially for international students. We hope this article has helped you in your search for a city to study in. Read more articles about Japan by visiting the Study in Japan page! Also, head on over to the Available Programs in Japan for more study options!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

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