Japanese Prefectures I Have Visited and the Differences Between them

Japan is a very interesting country. It is relatively small, however the differences between the people living in each prefecture are pretty distinct. I have a lot of experience with Osaka, Nara, and of course, Tokyo. Each one has its own unique charm and it is a very good experience to visit all of them, I would like to explore even more prefectures in the future if I can. But for now, let’s explore the differences I’ve seen between the prefectures.

My first experience stepping out of an airport in Japan was in Osaka in the Kansai region. Kansai people have a reputation for being loud, friendly, and comedic. Regarding my own experiences, this stereotype is not too far off the mark. In my first week in Osaka, a group of guys helped my coworkers and I find our way to an arcade. We only asked them for directions, but they took it upon themselves to escort us personally. They were very friendly and walked with us, even though we couldn’t completely understand each other due to the language barrier. That was a good experience. With regard to appearances, Osaka is similar to Tokyo with the tall buildings, but it is not nearly as busy. Overall, my impression of Osaka city was that it was busy, but not unfriendly.

One minor difference between the Kansai region and Kanto is where you stand on the escalator. The standing lane in Kansai is on the right side, while the passing lane is on the left. As far as I know, in Kanto, it’s reversed.

Let’s move onto Nara. I lived in Nara for about two years; most of the stereotypes about Kansai people apply to Nara natives as well. I think the one distinction between them is that most people that I’ve met in Nara know more scenic nature spots than people in Osaka. Which would make sense considering many people consider Nara to be the countryside of Japan. There is no shortage of friendliness from people in Nara though; I have been invited to a few homes just to see what a Japanese-style house looks like. I’ve been shown around Nara Park several times as well. Regarding the environment, Nara is much more spread out and open than the other cities as one would expect. Seeing deer roam around the park, unafraid of humans was certainly a unique experience. However, with animals come bugs. I have seen my fair share of insects in Nara, ranging from ants to centipedes, and it was not pleasant. Both Nara and Kyoto have many temples, but a key difference is that Nara’s temples are not as crowded as Kyoto’s. I could take my time exploring the temples without feeling rushed or pressured to move. Because of its convenient location near Osaka and Kyoto, Nara is my favorite prefecture so far.
Many people living outside of Japan consider Tokyo to be the heart of Japan. If we were referring to the amount of people living in a place to be the “heart” of a country, I would agree. Every day, trains come and go throughout the city and are almost always crowded. The most common complaint about Toyko is that there are too many people. However, Tokyo has the most things to do out of any of the aforementioned prefectures. There are several places for shopping, playing sports, playing games, drinking and eating, etc. It is an extremely convenient place to live, though a little expensive. The majority of people in Tokyo are very busy, most likely due to long commutes from Saitama, Chiba, or Kanagawa. As a result, many people appear to be unfriendly. Many of my friends from Kansai said as much. As I see it, people are just minding their own business and want to do whatever they set out to do that day. While I do get a different feeling from people in Kanto, I miss the overly friendly and energetic feelings from people in Kansai.

Despite being a relatively small country, Japan has many interesting people and places. If I had to rate the three prefectures I’ve been to, I would say Osaka has the most interesting people, Nara has the most beautiful nature, and Tokyo has the most things to do. I believe I could live in any of them comfortably, though I do wish Tokyo was not so expensive to live in. I look forward to visiting the other prefectures in Japan in the future.



stereotype (noun) – a commonly shared image of a type of person or thing
off the mark (idiom) – incorrect or inaccurate
find one’s way (idiom) – to look for where you need to go to get somewhere
escort (verb) – to take someone somewhere
roam (verb) – to walk or travel around with no particular purpose
set out to (phr. v) – to start or plan to do something with a particular purpose in mind