Ranking reveals Japanese impressions of which prefectures seem to boast residents with the best personalities.

What comes to mind when you think of the residents of each of Japan’s 47 prefectures? Do certain prefectures seem to house people with specific personal qualities?

Between December 18, 2019 and August 4, 2020, online portal J-Town Net held a survey to investigate readers’ thoughts on which prefectures boast residents with the best personalities. While the survey doesn’t exactly specify what is meant by the vague phrase “good personality” (Japanese: seikaku ga yosasou/性格がよさそう; seikaku is also variously translated as the “disposition” or “character” of a person), its decent sample size of 3,836 responses does provide an interesting glimpse into the innate impressions or stereotypes of people from various prefectures.

For example, people from Osaka (pictured below) are frequently described as being the most friendly, boisterous, and sometimes crude of all prefectures. People from Kyoto, meanwhile, are often said to have more sophisticated and perhaps uptight personalities.

Before reading the results, you may want to brush up on Japan’s 47 prefectures with this gorgeous whirlwind video tour.

All caught up now? On to the results!

Japanese prefecture ranking of residents with the best personalities
47. Yamanashi (20 votes)
46. Oita (29 votes)
45. Wakayama (33 votes)
44. Shiga (34 votes)
43. Saga (35 votes)
42. Kyoto (36 votes)
39. [tie] Kagawa (37 votes)
39. [tie] Yamaguchi (37 votes)
39. [tie] Aichi (37 votes)
38. Gifu (38 votes)
37. Tokyo (39 votes)
34. [tie] Kochi (41 votes)
34. [tie] Hyogo (41 votes)
34. [tie] Miyagi (41 votes)
32. [tie] Hiroshima (42 votes)
32. [tie] Chiba (42 votes)
30. [tie] Kumamoto (44 votes)
30. [tie] Gunma (44 votes)
28. [tie] Tokushima (45 votes)
28. [tie] Tochigi (45 votes)
26. [tie] Fukui (51 votes)
26. [tie] Ibaraki (51 votes)
25. Nara (52 votes)
24. Toyama (57 votes)
23. Tottori (66 votes)
22. Okayama (68 votes)
21. Ishikawa (69 votes)
20. Kanagawa (70 votes)
19. Saitama (72 votes)
18. Mie (75 votes)
17. Nagasaki (76 votes)
16. Kagoshima (77 votes)
15. Fukuoka (81 votes)
14. Shimane (93 votes)
12. [tie] Ehime (97 votes)
12. [tie] Osaka (97 votes)
11. Niigata (109 votes)
10. Fukushima (112 votes)
9. Nagano (118 votes)
8. Akita (127 votes)
7. Aomori (130 votes)
6. Yamagata (132 votes)

Now, a drumroll, please, for the top five picks!

5. Miyazaki (134)
4. Iwate (142 votes)
3. Shizuoka (260 votes)
2. Okinawa (266 votes)
1. Hokkaido (394 votes)

As a discussion of the survey results indicated, readers’ impressions of people with “good personalities” seemed to be largely equated to those with laid-back, carefree (Japanese: nonbiri/のんびり) attitudes. Accordingly, prefectures associated with tranquil, rural settings typically scored quite high in the resident personality ranking.

The top two picks are, interestingly, Japan’s northernmost and southernmost prefectures. Coming in at number one with 10.3 percent of the total vote was Hokkaido, known for its lush wilderness and agriculture (also coming soon: “gelato” potato salad). Coming in second place with 6.9 percent of the total vote was Okinawa, the subtropical island chain to the south with azure waters and its own unique cultural traditions distinct from the rest of Japan.

▼ A typical scene of Hokkaido’s verdant farmland

▼ The azure waters of Okinawa

Perhaps Shizuoka, in third place, was a bit of a surprise in light of its proximity to the capital region. One survey taker commented that while Shizuoka residents are indeed “laid-back, they do tend to speak quite quickly.” Given the stated tendency to equate less urban areas with people having better personalities, one respondent suggested that its high ranking could perhaps partially be attributed to the fact that a large portion of its area is designated as national or natural parks. However, note that neighboring Yamanashi, which shares Mt. Fuji with Shizuoka, has even more of its area designed as national parks–and it came in dead last in the rankings.

It’s also worth noting that all but one of Japan’s six prefectures in the northeastern Tohoku region ranked within the top ten. Tohoku is often viewed as rural, backwards, and off-the-beaten-path by many Japanese people. In reality, Tohoku is home to wonderful hidden gems such as these divine onsen and delicious cultural traditions. The one Tohoku prefecture that did not rank within the top ten, Miyagi, is home to the bustling northern city of Sendai.

▼ Iwate, the highest-scoring Tohoku prefecture, is full of natural wonders such as these rock formations in Miyako Bay.

Finally, according to the survey data, respondents overwhelmingly chose their own prefecture of residence as having people with the best personalities. In fact, residents of only four prefectures didn’t vote for their home prefectures as number one–Tokyo, Kanagawa, Hyogo, and Aichi. Residents of the first three chose Hokkaido as their top pick, mirroring the survey results as a whole, whereas 16.8 percent of residents of Aichi chose neighboring prefecture Shizuoka as their top pick. Perhaps their feelings will change once the Ghibli Park opens in 2022 and people have something to smile about!

Source: J-Town Net via Niconico News
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2, 3, 4)  
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