The Difference Between Urban and Rural Areas in Japan

Foreign people may wish to live in urban area with large cities such as Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, but living in a rural area is also enjoyable although unexpectedly it is not known to them. Let’s see the difference between urban and rural areas in Japan.

The term of “urban area” in general denotes an aggregate surrounding a core large city and other areas that are under influence of the city (the suburbs), which is used under the various definitions by various private and public organizations in accordance with their own specific standards. Generally, urban areas in Japan include those including Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.

Even in the same country, there are various differences in the ways of living between urban and rural areas.

About populations

Urban area Among urban areas in Japan, Tokyo is the most overcrowded city which has the largest population in Japan. Especially, it is so crowded in rush-hour trains in the morning and evening, the passengers can not move at all. Inside the station buildings, people walk so fast that you should struggled to keep up with them until you get accustomed.
Rural area The population is relatively small (depending on the region), so you may feel that time flows slowly in a spacious space.

Transport facilities

Urban area Generally convenience stores, restaurants and train stations are located at walking distances and you can walk to those facilities. Transport facilities are well equipped and you don’t have to own a car, so you don’t need any maintenance fee for it.
Rural area In some areas, transport facilities are poorly equipped, so you may be required to own a car. It is not unusual that every family has at least one car.


Urban area Streets are full of tower buildings and packed with people. Urban areas provide easy living because there are many 24-hour operating shops, restaurants and convenience stores in walking distances. However, living in an urban area requires high and variable costs, for example, high rent, and even supermarkets are forced to provide parking tickets.
Rural area Every region has its own features, and you may encounter wild animals, see beautiful stars, enjoy good food or experience the culture specific to the region in the environment full of nature. Product prices such as rents and food are less expensive than those in urban areas, and the living cost is low.

You must be clearly aware of what environment do you want when you live and study in Japan, and choose the place (region) best suited for your purpose.

Dialects and rules specific to regions


Each region in Japan has its own unique dialect, rules and culture, which are different between regions. If you have even small knowledge on such dialect, culture and rules of the area, you may be able to easily communicate with people in the local community. On the other hand, when you travel around Japan during your stay, knowledge about the culture and rules specific to the region may lead you to discovery of something new and more interest in Japan.

Well-known Japanese dialect words

Osaka dialect (a Japanese dialect spoken in Osaka City and its surrounding areas)

  • Ookini (Thank you)
  • Chaimasu (No, you are not right)
  • Bochibochi (You don’t have to hurry, take it easy)
  • Nani Yutennen (Don’t be silly) etc.

Hakata dialect (a Japanese dialect spoken in Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture, and its surrounding areas)

  • Dogenshitato? (What’s the matter?)
  • Suito (I love you)
  • “Dogen” “chan” “XX yaken” etc.

Hiroshima dialect (a Japanese dialect spoken in Hiroshima Prefecture)

  • Jakeh / Jaken (thus)
  • Taigai ni senyaa (That’s enough)
  • Dohkaino (What do you think?)
  • Hayo (Hurry up) etc.

Kyoto dialect (a Japanese dialect spoken in Kyoto; it is also called Kyo-kotoba)

  • Ohayohsan (Good morning)
  • Shindoi nen (I am tired)
  • Oideyasu (Welcome)
  • Korenanbo (How much is this?)

Okinawa dialect (a dialect spoken in Okinawa Region: it is called “Uchinahguchi” in the region)

  • Mensore (Welcome)
  • Nifehdehbiru (Thank you)
  • Churakahgi (Beauty)
  • Haisai “to men” (Haitai (to “women”) (Hello)
  • Wan (I, me) etc.

Local culture and rules

As an frequently-taken example for the difference in the manner specific to regions, people stand on the right side of an escalator in Osaka region. In Tokyo, people stand on the opposite side, so be careful.

Kyoto is famous for Maiko-san. They represent one of Japanese culture.

There are different aspects in Japanese culture depending on regions. You are recommended to travel around Japan during your stay.