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Japan is divided into 47 administrative and legal divisions named todōfuken. In English, we usually refer to them as the 47 prefectures of Japan, with the term prefecture derived from texts written by 16th century Portuguese explorers and traders; Portuguese speaking men who used the term prefeitura to describe the fiefdoms they encountered in Japan.

The 47 prefectures of Japan consists of:

  • 43 standard prefectures (ken)
  • Two urban prefectures (fu): Osaka and Kyoto
  • One metropolis prefecture (to): Tokyo
  • One circuit/territory prefecture (): Hokkaido

The 47 prefectures

These are the 47 prefectures listed in alphabetical order.

Prefecture Kanji Capital Region Major island
 Okinawa沖縄県NahaKyushuRyukyu Islands

The eight regions (chihō)

The 47 prefectures of Japan are commonly grouped into eight geographical regions called chihō. From north to south, they are: Hokkaidō, Tōhoku, Kantō, Chūbu, Kansai, Chūgoku, Shikoku, and Kyūshū.


1. Hokkaidō


2. Aomori
3. Iwate
4. Miyagi
5. Akita
6. Yamagata
7. Fukushima


8. Ibaraki
9. Tochigi
10. Gunma
11. Saitama
12. Chiba
13. Tōkyō
14. Kanagawa


15. Niigata
16. Toyama
17. Ishikawa
18. Fukui
19. Yamanashi
20. Nagano
21. Gifu
22. Shizuoka
23. Aichi


24. Mie
25. Shiga
26. Kyōto
27. Ōsaka
28. Hyōgo
29. Nara
30. Wakayama


31. Tottori
32. Shimane
33. Okayama
34. Hiroshima
35. Yamaguchi


36. Tokushima
37. Kagawa
38. Ehime
39. Kōchi


40. Fukuoka
41. Saga
42. Nagasaki
43. Kumamoto
44. Ōita
45. Miyazaki
46. Kagoshima
47. Okinawa

Which are the most populated prefectures?

The most populated prefecture by a wide margin is Tokyo, which isn’t surprising since it includes the megacity Tokyo. In 2015, the Tokyo Prefecture was home to over 13.5 million people.

On second place, we find the prefecture Kanagawa, which includes the major city Yokohama. In 2015, over 9.1 people lived in Kanagawa.

On third place is the prefecture Osaka, which is an urban prefecture for the urban Osaka area. In 2015, this population size for this prefecture exceeded 8.8 million.

Which is the most densely populated prefecture?

Tokyo isn’t just the prefecture with the largest population; it is also the most densely populated prefecture. Data from 2015 show a population density of 6,168.1 residents per square kilometer for this prefecture.

Which is the largest prefecture?

The largest of the 47 prefectures is Hokkaido with 83,424.22 square kilometers. This is also the northernmost of the prefectures.

Which is the smallest prefecture?

The smallest prefecture is Kagawa, which is only 1,876.73 square kilometers in size. It is located on Shikoku Island in southern Japan.

Investing in Japan

The Japanese stock market (The Nikkei) is open to foreign investors, and foreigners are allowed to buy and sell stocks. A number of large international companies are listed on the Japanese stock exchange, and it is a good idea to include a few high-quality Japanese stocks in your stock portfolio.

The Japanese Yen is one of the most traded currencies in the world. Different currency pairs including the Yen are very popular among retail forex traders. USD/Yen is an especially popular currency pair.  All forex trading platforms allow you to trade with the Yen.  Most brokers allow you to make leveraged trades when you trade the yen..

Anyone can invest in real estate in Japan. There are no restrictions preventing foreigners from buying property. You do not need to have citizenship or even a residence visa to do so.