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Everything has been coming up Tokyo lately. Recently ranked no. 1 on a Trip Advisor survey, Japan’s capital city has now come in at No. 2 on Monocle’s list of most livable cities for 2014. That’s two positions up from their ranking last year!

Cities across the world were ranked based on criteria such as economics, society, functionality, as well as ease of everyday living and happiness of people. But it’s not just Tokyo that’s feeling the love recently – two more Japanese cities made it onto the list of great places to live!

Monocle, a global affairs and lifestyle magazine, has been publishing a list of the “Most Livable Cities Index” since 2006. This list rates cities based on the aforementioned categories and also, but not limited to, crime rate, health care, public schools, public transportation, as well as access to nature, culture, sunlight/climate, number of electronic vehicle charging spots, and ease of starting a new business. And in 2014, they added tolerance as a new category.

Kyoto and Fukuoka also made the list, rounding out the top 10 as shown below.

1: Copenhagen, Denmark
2: Tokyo, Japan
3: Melbourne, Australia
4: Stockholm, Sweden
5: Helsinki, Finland
6: Vienna, Austria
7: Zürich, Switzerland
8: Munich, Germany
9: Kyoto, Japan
10: Fukuoka, Japan

▼View of Tokyo from Tokyo Tower

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According to Monocle, Tokyo is “a huge metropolitan city, and while it benefits from having good economics and culture, there are also little to no empty or rundown buildings in the city.” Tokyo’s high ranking may be due to that last point, as it stresses one of Monocle’s main attractions to the city: its ease of which to start a business. In what amounts to little more than a shoe box, you can set up a shop almost anywhere in Tokyo. It really gives people a point of entry if they want to be an entrepreneur.

▼Senso-ji Temple with the Tokyo Sky Tree in the background

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Tokyo is such a gigantic sprawling city that it’s no surprise its food, shopping and art received high praise. Even with a big city feel though, the people are still very kind. And thanks to laws focused on the environment, the pollution is minimal and public transportation is readily available!

If the city of Tokyo is looking to claim the top spot in the future, though, Monocle has some issues it can work on. The large number of pachinko parlors, the surprisingly high number of public places where people can smoke, and the long working hours are just a few areas that Tokyo needs to address before it can truly be top dog.

For those living in Japan, the inclusion of Kyoto on the list is no surprise. But a big jump from 13th in 2013 to 9th in 2014 is really good news for the old capital. The list praises Kyoto for balancing its rich history with the forward march of progress and technology. While Kyoto is widely known for being Japan’s cultural core, it’s also a center for education and high-tech businesses. Every year, 50 million people come to visit the city, while only 1.5 million people work there. Those millions of visitors know that Kyoto stunningly represents each of the four seasons. While more green areas in the center of the city would be welcome, history and space constraints may prevent that from ever happening.

▼Kinkakuji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), Kyoto

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▼Ginkakuji (Temple of the Silver Pavilion), Kyoto

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▼Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto

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Fukuoka also makes its first appearance in the top 10. With a low crime rate and thriving small businesses, Fukuoka is a great example of a smaller city in Japan getting so many things right. They even have their hands on the hot topic issues as many citizens are choosing to ride their bicycles to work.

But like any other city, there are some issues Fukuoka should be sure to address. Residents hope that the city has plans to counter the rise of unoccupied houses and the increasing air pollution that is coming over from nearby China.

▼Fukuoka at night

fukuoka 1Flickr (Lou)


fukuoka 2 Flickr (Byoung Wook – Toughkid Kim 김병욱)

▼Fukuoka from Fukuoka Castle Ruins

fukuoka 3Flickr (jpellgen)

Topping the list for the second straight year is Copenhagen, Denmark. Copenhagen exemplifies all the right characteristics across all the different categories. It continues to grow and adapt by investing smartly in infrastructure, improving public spaces and public services. It also excels in creating a public image that is highly regarded and respected by the rest of the world. Never afraid to try new things, Copenhagen adapts deftly with the times, while never ignoring its past traditions.

▼Canal in Copenhagen

copenhagen 1Flickr (Valerio Fuoglio)

Anywhere you wouldn’t mind living for a few years?

Sources: Hachima Kiko, Nikoniko News, Wikipedia, Monocle
Images: RocketNews24