On Real Estate Japan, properties near central stations in Tokyo’s 23 Wards usually receive the most attention from foreigners looking to buy a home in Japan. In 2019, for example, the most popular stations for people searching for For Sale properties were concentrated in the capital’s center: Omotesando, Azabu Juban, Meguro, Hiroo, and Shibuya.
It’s important to note, however, that in their quest to find the perfect home or investment property, users on Real Estate Japan consistently search many cities and prefectures throughout Japan, outside of Tokyo.
In this article, we rank the Top 10 most popular cities and wards (outside Tokyo) for people searching and inquiring on For Sale properties in the last month.
First, let’s answer a basic question: Can a foreigner even buy property in Japan?
Yes. There are no legal restrictions on buying property in Japan for foreigners. Foreigners are only responsible for providing a written notification to the Bank of Japan within 20 days of purchase of real property.
There is no need to have citizenship or even a residence visa to buy a house in Japan. However, buying property in Japan does not entitle the purchaser to receive a Japan residence visa.
Now let’s take a look at the rankings! Click on the city, ward, or prefecture name to see property listings current available in the area.
#1 Sakyo Ward – Kyoto
Sakyo in the northeastern corner of Kyoto, is home to some of the city’s most iconic landmarks as well as beautifully landscaped walks. Ginkaku-ji (the “Silver Pavilion”) marks the northern end and the Philosopher’s Walk marks the southern end of the ward. This area of Kyoto is rich in ancient history and dining and shopping here are more of the traditional kind. Live here if you enjoy discovering a hidden tea shop or quaint noodle shop on your weekend walkabouts.
#2 Higashiyama Ward – Kyoto
Higashiyama (literally “East Mountain”) Ward is best known for the district by the same name, which is located on the lower slopes of the eastern mountains and is one of the city’s best preserved historic districts. The streets in Higashiyama are lined with small shops, cafes and restaurants which have been catering to tourists for hundreds of years. Kiyomizu-dera (Temple), a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the most well-known landmarks in Higashiyama.
#3 Hakone – Kanagawa
Hakone, a mountainous town located in Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, about 87-km southwest of Tokyo, is known for its hot springs resorts (onsen) and views of the iconic volcano Mount Fuji. It is a popular day- and weekend-trip destination for Tokyo residents.
#4 Yodogawa Ward – Osaka
Yodogawa Ward is located on the north bank of the Yodogawa River which runs through the northern section of Osaka City. It is bordered on the east by Higashi Yodogawa Ward, on the west by Nishi Yodogawa Ward, on the south by Kita Ward, and on the north by the three cities Suita, Toyonaka and Amagasaki.
Shin-Osaka Station is a major shopping, dining, and transportation hub in Yodogawa and is the western terminus of the high-speed Tōkaidō Shinkansen line from Tokyo, and the eastern terminus of the San’yō Shinkansen.
Juso Station (on the Kobe, Takarazuka, and Kyoto lines) is another major hub in Yodogawa.
#5 Kanagawa Ward -Yokohama
Kanagawa, one of the 18 wards of Yokohama, is located in the northeast of the city, with Tokyo Bay bordering it to the east.
The ward is a regional commercial center and bedroom community for central Yokohama and Tokyo. The coastal area of Kanagawa ward is part of the Keihin Industrial Zone, and is the most industrialized region within Yokohama. Major factories are operated by Nissan, JVC, Nippon Petroleum Refining Co., Ltd., Nippon Flour Mills, Showa Denko, Asahi Glass Co. Mazda has a research and development center in Kanagawa ward (Wikipedia).
#6 Fushimi Ward – Kyoto
Fushimi ward is located in the southern part of the city of Kyoto and is blessed with abundant natural areas near the Horikawa River (whose underwater springs supply the water for Fushimi’s famous sake), as well as affordable residential neighborhoods and easy train connections to Osaka. Live in this part of Kyoto if you want to keep one foot in the city and the other in Osaka.
#7 Yamashina Ward – Kyoto
Yamashina is one of the eleven wards of Kyoto. It lies in the southeastern part of the city. Yamashina Station is one stop away from Kyoto Station on the Tōkaidō Main Line (Biwako Line). Yamashina used to be a farming village located between Kyoto and Shiga, but it is now a bedroom community for people commuting to central Kyoto and Osaka.
Historically, Yamashina was an important point for traffic connecting Kyoto and east part of Japan. In the Edo period, it flourished as a post town of the Tōkaidō road, which connected Kyoto to Edo (modern-day Tokyo).
#8 Fukushima Ward – Osaka
Fukushima is located in the northern part of Osaka. Its main commercial and transportation center is Umeda.
Umeda is home to the majority of Osaka’s skyscrapers, with a vibrant mix of office, commercial, residential and mixed-used buildings.
Umeda station is the main terminal here and notable for being the busiest train station in Western Japan. It serves three railways: Hankyu, Hanshin, and the Osaka Municipal Subway. Six other major stations are within walking distance and connected to Umeda via a labyrinth of underground malls.
Umeda is a vibrant and busy area at any hour, day and night. Shopping options abound with high fashion, department stores, and small boutiques. Nightlife is thriving with tons of restaurants, bars, and clubs for all types.
#9 Joto Ward – Osaka
Joto is located in the northeastern part of the city of Osaka.
“Joto” literally means “east of the castle” (Osaka Castle, to be precise!), which makes Joto a central location in the city, despite it being located northeast of the geographic center.
Joto ward, has the highest population density of any ward in a city-designated municipality in Japan, and is the only ward with a density that exceeds 20,000 people per square kilometer (Wikipedia).
#10 (Tie) Zama – Kanagawa
Zama is a city in Kanagawa prefecture. It is also home to the United States’ Camp Zama Army base.
#10 (Tie) Higashi Yodogawa Ward – Osaka
#10 (Tie) Toyonaka-shi – Osaka
Please see this article for information on: Getting a property loan as a foreigner in Japan
Please see our step-by-step guide: Guide to Property in Japan
See how much you can borrow and your monthly payments in yen: Yen Mortgage Loan Calculator
For information about purchase and brokerage fees: Breakdown of real estate purchase fees and taxes in Japan
Need to know: Earthquake building codes and technology in Japan
Bilingual Real Estate Agent in Tokyo Answers Your FAQs on Buying and Managing an Investment Property
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