Comparing cities to live in: Musashino vs Mitaka vs Koganei

We decided to build our own house in Tokyo. We narrowed down our area to the following stations on the Chuo line: Mitaka (Mitaka City), Musashi-sakai (Musashino City), Musashi-Koganei (Koganei City). We also considered Kichijoji, but it was way out of budget (also it gets very crowded on weekends), and Higashi-Koganei (the station between Musashi-sakai and Musashi-Koganei), but currently it lacks the shops and amenities that we got used to. It is being actively developed, so it might get there in the next 5-10 years, but it’s also between two pretty well developed stations, so chain stores might pass on opening their stores there (e.g. both neighboring stations have Ito-Yokado shopping malls, making it unlikely that there would be one in Higashi-Koganei in the future).

Choosing where to live is one of the truly life-altering decisions, especially for our children (as it affects which school they go to, their friends and also influences their career). While big part of this can’t be foreseen, I decided to take a look at the data available to compare these cities. I believe the same data is published for most cities in Japan, so even if you are looking at other places, this post might be able to help you make your own comparison.

I tried to use data from around the same time and time period, though it wasn’t always possible (some data only gets published a few years late, or not every year), so I’ll indicate which date the data is from.

Disclosure: when I originally collected most of this data we were still looking for a land in all these places, but by the time of writing this post we are in the middle of buying a land in Musashino. This won’t change the numbers (those are all from the linked sources), but might affect my interpretation due to confirmation bias (we made our choice and I want to believe we made the right choice). So take any positive opinion of Musashino with a grain of salt.


Most metrics only really make sense on a per resident basis (e.g. city budget, number of schools), so it’s important to start with the population.

Population (2023. December) Source: 住民基本台帳による世帯と人口:毎月

  Musashino Mitaka Koganei
Population 147,851 190,071 124,721
Households 78,685 96,814 62,937
Household size
(person per household)
1.88 1.96 1.98

Age groups

With Japan being a super-aging society, it’s a good data point to know how many kids, adults, and elderly live in a given city, as this will influence policies (which group the city should support), but also what types of shops open in the area.

Population per age group (2024. January) Source: 区市町村、年齢3区分別人口(人口総数)

  All of Tokyo prefecture Musashino Mitaka Koganei
0-14 year olds 11.07% (1,540,731) 11.75% (17,373) 12.31% (23,382) 12.58% (15,682)
15-64 year olds 66.33% (9,227,915) 65.69% (97,090) 65.60% (124,610) 65.86% (82,071)
Above 65 years 22.59% (3,143,256) 22.56% (33,346) 22.09% (41,967) 21.56% (26,861)

Overall all 3 cities are almost identical in this regard.

Foreign population

Being from Europe, my kids will not look 100% Japanese, so knowing how much they will stand out at school is important. As the majority of foreigners in Japan are from other Asian countries, I also looked at data on which continent the foreign population is from. (There is data published down to the country-of-origin-level.)

Foreign population (2024. January) Source: 区市町村、国籍・地域別外国人人口

  All of Tokyo prefecture Musashino Mitaka Koganei
Foreign population (% of the entire population) 4.65% (647,416) 2.52% (3,719) 2.28% (4,332) 2.58% (3,212)
From Asia (% of the foreign population) 87.69% (567,699) 78.57% (2,922) 74.68% (3,235) 83.72% (2,689)
From Europe (% of the foreign population) 5.71% (36,999) 7.93% (295) 10.55% (457) 5.39% (173)
From Africa (% of the foreign population) 0.69% (4,477) 0.43% (16) 1.39% (60) 0.93% (30)
From North America (% of the foreign population) 3.92% (25,356) 9.63% (358) 9.86% (427) 7.75% (249)
From South America (% of the foreign population) 1.24% (8,046) 1.86% (69) 1.69% (73) 1.37% (44)
From Oceania (% of the foreign population) 0.69% (4,468) 1.59% (59) 1.75% (76) 0.84% (27)

Overall Musashino and Mitaka are pretty similar in this regard. Koganei has slightly more foreigners, but a higher percentage of them come from Asian countries. This might be due to many universities being in and around Koganei, and it’s being the cheapest out of the 3 cities (so international students from Asian countries might prefer living there). But this is just my guess, overall the numbers are close enough that I don’t think this would result in any meaningful impact on our daily life.

Sidenote: since the statistics include per country breakdown, I also checked how many other Hungarians live in each city. Musashino: 1, Mitaka: 5 (I’m one from this), Koganei: 0. (In the entire Tokyo prefecture there are 254 Hungarians, but 211 of them (83%) live within the 23 Special Wards of Tokyo.)

Daytime population

People often commute for work or school, so the people living in a city (night time population) and the people being there during the day (daytime population) can look different. Tokyo does a census on this every 5 year, I’ll be using the numbers from the 2020 census.

Apart from the number of people in the city during the day, the census also shows the number of people commuting for work (通勤者) and for school (通学者). (The census notes that this doesn’t include the entire daytime population, as some people don’t work or study, and also the census doesn’t have data on what everyone does.) Moreover the census includes information on the flow of people too, e.g. some people living in the city will leave for work, while others will enter for work, so just the number of workers in the city during the day alone won’t show the full picture.

Daytime, nighttime population and daily flow of people (2020) Source: 令和2年国勢調査による 東京都の昼間人口(従業地・通学地による人口)

  Musashino Mitaka Koganei
Nighttime population
(residents of the city) 常住人口
150,149 195,391 126,074
Daytime population 昼間人口 162,221 175,413 110,012
- compared to residents 8.04% -10.22% -12.74%
Resident workers (workers
living there)常住就業者
64,433 82,769 54,114
Daytime workers 昼間就業者 69,408 63,348 33,399
- compared to resident workers 7.72% -23.46% -38.28%
Workers leaving 流出通勤者 41,511 52,685 37,590
- compared to resident workers 64.43% 63.65% 69.46%
Workers entering 流入通勤者 46,486 33,264 16,875
- compared to resident workers 72.15% 40.19% 31.18%
Resident students (students
living there) 常住通学者
15,622 22,206 14,067
Daytime students 昼間通学者 22,719 21,649 18,720
- compared to resident students 45.43% -2.51% 33.08%
Students leaving 流出通学者 5,575 7,174 4,821
- compared to resident students 35.69% 32.31% 34.27%
Students entering 流入通学者 12,672 6,617 9,474
- compared to resident students 81.12% 29.80% 67.35%

Mitaka and Koganei both looses ~10% of their population during the day, while Musashino gains 8%. As all 3 cities are residential, Musashino’s increased daytime population might be due to Kichijoji being a popular shopping destination.

63% of workers living in Mitaka leave during the day, and only 2/3 of this much enters. Koganei is even starker: 70% of workers leave during the day, and only less than half of this many enters. Musashino’s workers also leave in comparable numbers (64%), but they have more workers entering during the day. Since workers include people working in factories and offices in the city, but also people working in retail and hospitality (shops, restaurants, bars), this can be again due to Kichijoji (even if the people go there for shopping, the shops and restaurants need staff who will be counted as workers). It’s also interesting to see that while Musashino seem to have more work opportunities, people still prefer to leave the city in the same proportions as residents of the two other cities, and the jobs are taken up by people commuting into the city. This could mean that those jobs don’t pay enough to let people afford living there.

When it comes to students, both Musashino and Koganei attracts many students increasing their student population by 45% and 33% respectively, while Mitaka looses 2.5% of the number of their students. This difference almost entirely comes from students entering the cities, as all 3 cities have around 33% of their students leave the city during the day, but Musashino and Koganei simply has more students commuting there. Even though all three cities have many high schools and universities (Musashino, Mitaka, Koganei), it seems that students just don’t go to Mitaka: if we look at the ratio of daytime students per residents we get 15.13% for Musashino, 11.08% for Mitaka and 14.85% for Koganei (as we have seen earlier, all 3 cities have a similar proportion of young people, so there are simply less students choosing to commute to Mitaka). Overall this is likely not an issue for living in Mitaka though, as many kids commute for junior high and high school anyway, and all 3 cities are very close (it’s a 13 minute train ride back to back from Kichijoji to Musashi-Koganei).


Education is one area where cities can differ, so I took an extra look into the available data. Tokyo publishes the 学校基本統計(学校基本調査)- School Basic Statistics (School Basic Survey) each year, with the most recent being from 2023. This includes the number of schools of various levels, number of classes, number of teachers, etc. I’ll share some numbers that I found interesting.

Elementary schools (2023)

  Musashino Mitaka Koganei
Nr of kids 8,173 9,879 6,751
Nr of kids in public elementary school (and % of overall nr of kids) 6,526 (80%) 9,478 (96%) 6,132 (91%)
Nr of teachers 466 529 338
Teacher per class 1.64 1.61 1.55
Teacher per class in public schools 1.59 1.60 1.56

Musashino has more than twice as many kids in non-public (private, international) elementary school as the other cities. This can mean that the public schools are of lower quality, or that the parents have more money and thus more options. The teacher per class numbers are very similar, with Koganei being slightly lower, which can mean that the quality is lower, or that the number of kids is growing faster than the rate they can hire teachers.

Overall I don’t think any of this indicates a significant difference in the quality of education.

Schooling in Japan is mandatory until the end of junior high school (15 years of age), so let’s see what kids do after that:

What students do after graduating junior high school (Data from the 2023 graduations)

  All of Tokyo prefecture Musashino Mitaka Koganei
Go to high school 98.65% 99% (1,466) 97.5% (1,435) 96.4% (1,245)
Go to vocational school 0.5% 0.6% (9) 1% (14) 3.3% (43)

(Numbers don’t add up to 100% as some doesn’t continue their education.)

Overall Musashino and Mitaka is almost identical, while Koganei has a slightly higher percentage going to vocational school. But the sample size is so small, that it’s hard to make any conclusions. It is very likely that in either city our kids’ classmates would mostly continue to high school.

What students do after graduating high school (Data from the 2023 graduations)

  All of Tokyo prefecture Musashino Mitaka Koganei
Go to university 72.8% 81.5% (1,032) 81.8% (716) 86% (1,150)
Go to vocational school 15.26% 11.6% (147) 9% (79) 7.9% (104)
Start working 4.6% 0% 0.2% (2) 1% (14)

All 3 cities send around the same percentage to university (with Koganei being slightly higher, but that might be due to more student going to vocational school already after junior high school). At the end of the day, this again means that in either city our kids’ classmates would mostly go to university.

Car ownership

In central Tokyo most people don’t use cars everyday, while on the countryside people tend to drive more often. So looking at the number of cars in a city can tell us about how it feels to live there (e.g. more cars likely mean more traffic, but also shops and restaurants will have parking lots).

The Kanto District Transport Bureau publishes car ownership numbers in March every year, and I’m using the latest data from March 2023. For the number of households, I’m using the March 2023 data from the Statistics of Tokyo website.

The data has multiple car categories, and here is ChatGPT’s explanation of each category:

  • 貨物計 (Kamotsu-kei) - This refers to cargo vehicles, encompassing all vehicles primarily used for transporting goods. This category includes various sizes of trucks and freight vehicles.
  • 乗合計 (Noriai-kei) - This category covers public transport vehicles or vehicles used for mass transportation of passengers, such as buses and coaches.
  • 乗用計 (Jōyō-kei) - This term refers to passenger cars, which are vehicles used primarily for personal transport of passengers. It generally includes sedans, hatchbacks, SUVs, etc.
  • 特種(殊)計 (Tokushu-kei) - This category is for special purpose vehicles, which are designed for specific functions other than just transporting goods or people. This can include vehicles like ambulances, fire trucks, construction vehicles, etc.
  • 登録車計 (Tōroku-sha-kei) - This translates to registered vehicles total. It is a summative category that typically includes all motor vehicles that are officially registered, likely excluding those that do not require registration such as certain small or specialized vehicles.
  • 小型二輪 (Kogata nirin) - This refers to small two-wheeled vehicles, such as motorcycles and scooters. These are typically smaller bikes that fall under a certain engine size or power output.
  • 合計 (Gōkei) - This simply means total and sums up all the categories listed above.

For each of these, there are 2 numbers published (again ChatGPT’s explanation):

  • 自家用 (Jikayō) - This term means private use. It refers to vehicles used for personal, non-commercial purposes. These are typically cars, motorcycles, or other vehicles owned by individuals for personal or family use.
  • 事業用 (Jigyōyō) - This term stands for business use. It includes vehicles used for commercial purposes, such as company cars, delivery trucks, taxis, buses operated by transport companies, and other vehicles used in the course of conducting business or providing services.

Passenger cars (乗用計) make up more than 90% of private cars, so I’m only looking at that number. For business use I’m looking at all numbers, as those can tell us about the type of businesses that are registered in each city.

  All of Tokyo pref Musashino Mitaka Koganei
Number of households 7,451,160 78,261 96,135 62,617
Total number of cars 3,074,602 26,744 40,786 24,741
- Per 100 households 41.3 34.2 42.4 39.5
Personal cars (自家用特種(殊)計) 2,917,997 25,837 38,188 24,386
- Per 100 households 39.2 33.0 39.7 38.9
- Personal passenger cars (自家用乗用計) 2,545,220 23,956 34,777 22,773
-- Compared to all personal cars 87.22% 92.72% 91.07% 93.39%
Personal motorcycles (自家用小型二輪) 184,152 1,363 2,581 1,367
- Per 100 households 2.47 1.74 2.68 2.18
Corporate cars (事業用登録車計) 156,605 907 2,598 355
- Per 100 households 2.10 1.16 2.70 0.57
- Compared to all cars 5.09% 3.39% 6.37% 1.43%
- Corporate cargo vehicles (事業用貨物計) 79,972 83 625 101
-- Compared to all corporate cars 51.07% 9.15% 24.06% 28.45%
- Corporate public transport vehicles (事業用乗合計) 10,868 320 13 51
-- Compared to all corporate cars 6.94% 35.28% 0.50% 14.37%
- Corporate passenger cars (事業用乗用計) 43,762 439 1720 140
-- Compared to all corporate cars 27.94% 48.40% 66.20% 39.44%
- Corporate special purpose vehicles (事業用特種(殊)計) 22,003 65 240 63
-- Compared to all corporate cars 14.05% 7.17% 9.24% 17.75%
Corporate motorcycles (事業用小型二輪) 304 3 4 3
- Compared to all motorcycles 0.16% 0.22% 0.15% 0.22%

So in all of Tokyo, on average less than half of the households have a car (41.3 cars per 100 households). Musashino has even less (34.2), while Mitaka (42.4) and Koganei (39.5) are around the Tokyo average. Only around 1-2% of this is corporate cars, the rest is registered by individuals.

When it comes to corporate cars, in Tokyo half of them are cargo vehicles, followed by 28% of passenger cars (this includes taxis too). Meanwhile in all 3 cities the main corporate car is passenger cars (48%, 66%, 39%), with the second most popular being cargo in Mitaka and Koganei, and public transport vehicle in Musashino. My guess is that this is simply due to more bus companies having their vehicles registered in Musashino, as I’m pretty sure Mitaka has more than 13 buses going around on any given day. Since all corporate cars make up only around 1-2% of vehicles, I don’t think these differences change the everyday feel of the cities.

There are only 2-3 motorcycles per 100 households, and almost no corporate motorcycles (less than 0.3% of all motorcycles). This latter is actually surprising for me, as I thought delivery scooters (pizza chains, soba restaurants, newspapers) will make this number bigger.

Overall all 3 cities are fairly similar in this regard, with Musashino having slightly less cars registered per household.

City budget

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications publishes a set of massive Excel spreadsheets that contain the budget (income, spending, source of both) for all municipalities of Japan (each city being a line in the table).

At the time of my research, their latest data was from 2021, so that’s what I’m using here. The data is using thousand yen (千円) as the unit, so I’ll be using that to display the numbers.

The table also includes population for each city, and I’m using that for the per resident calculations (since the date of this data is different from the data earlier, this is slightly different than above).

General budget

Source: 都市別 概況.

  Musashino Mitaka Koganei
Population 148,025 190,590 124,617
Income 80,799,412千円 80,516,306千円 53,583,172千円
- per resident 545.85千円 422.46千円 429.98千円
Expenses 76,957,203千円 78,311,614千円 51,719,510千円
- per resident 519.89千円 410.89千円 415.03千円

All 3 cities run a healthy budget (spending less than their income). Mitaka and Koganei works with similar per resident income and spending, while Musashino earns and spends 25-30% more than the others (per resident).

Income source

The income source is also published for each city, so I’ll pick some numbers from this.

Source: 都市別 歳入内訳

  Musashino Mitaka Koganei
tax 39,928,376千円 38,398,512千円 21,986,121千円
- % of overall income 49.42% 47.69% 41.03%
- per resident 269.74千円 201.47千円 176.43千円
- (within tax): residence tax(市町村民税個人分) 18,132,872千円 18,348,371千円 11,176,817千円
-- per resident 122.50千円 96.27千円 89.69千円
- (within tax): business tax(市町村民税法人分) 2,556,045千円 1,472,492千円 590,996千円
-- per resident 17.27千円 7.73千円 4.74千円
- (within tax): real estate tax (固定資産税) 16,352,346千円 14,541,109千円 7,733,616千円
-- per resident 110.47千円 76.30千円 62.06千円
National treasury disbursements
(国庫支出金) -money from the national
government for specific projects
14,774,575千円 18,949,625千円 13,793,957千円
- % of overall income 18.29% 23.54% 25.74%
- per resident 99.81千円 99.43千円 110.69千円
Prefectural disbursements
(都道府県支出金) - general money from
the prefecture
8,337,069千円 10,170,974千円 8,037,565千円
- % of overall income 10.32% 12.63% 15.00%
- per resident 56.32千円 53.37千円 64.50千円

This shows that Musashino and Mitaka receive similar amounts (per resident) from the central and prefectural governments, while Koganei collects 13% less from taxes than Mitaka (on a per resident basis), but they make up for it by receiving more from the central and prefectural governments leading to a similar budget in the end. This can make Koganei riskier in the long term than Mitaka (regardless their current similar budgets), as with the aging population the central and prefectural governments might have less money in the future.

Looking at the tax explains why Musashino’s budget is more than the other two cities: they get almost 34% more from taxes (per resident) than Mitaka and 52% more than Koganei. This comes from all types of taxes:

  • residence tax (27% and 36% more than Mitaka and Koganei): the proportion of the working age population of all 3 cities is almost identical, and since the residence tax is a flat 6%, this means that the average salary in Musashino is 27% and 36% higher than Mitaka and Koganei respectively (assuming a similar percentage of working age people working).
  • Musashino’s per resident business tax income is more than double of Mitaka’s and 3.6x more than Koganei, indicating that they have more companies. I didn’t go into details on how this tax is calculated, but my guess is that this is mainly due to Kichijoji’s shopping district which attracts huge crowds every weekend
  • similarly the real estate tax income is the highest in Musashino, my guess again being that Kichijoji’s land values are through the roof (partially due to all the shops, but also due to all the rich people having their house there) resulting in a higher real estate tax revenue (my understanding is that real estate tax is a fixed % of the assessed land and building value, so it being higher means that the value of real estate is higher)


Data is also published on how the cities spend their money. 目的別歳出内訳 shows the purpose of the spending (e.g. welfare, education) and 性質別歳出内訳 shows the nature of the spending (e.g. salary). I’ll show some numbers from the former about welfare and educational spending.

  Musashino Mitaka Koganei
public welfare 33,215,646千円 41,707,752千円 26,697,093千円
- % of overall 43.16% 53.26% 51.62%
- per resident 224.39千円 218.83千円 214.23千円
- child welfare 14,863,633千円 19,222,396千円 14,553,676千円
-- per resident 100.41千円 100.86千円 116.79千円
educational expenses 13,796,513千円 7,871,068千円 4,276,149千円
- % of overall 17.93% 10.05% 8.27%
- per resident 93.20千円 41.30千円 34.31千円
- general expenses 4,934,066千円 2,607,578千円 850,611千円
-- per resident 33.33千円 13.68千円 6.83千円
- elementary school 1,777,769千円 2,031,009千円 863,945千円
-- per resident 12.01千円 10.66千円 6.93千円
- junior high school 925,344千円 789,519千円 482,268千円
-- per resident 6.25千円 4.14千円 3.87千円
- social education 1,780,268千円 857,003千円 677,956千円
-- per resident 12.03千円 4.50千円 5.44千円
- sport facilities 1,147,760千円 593,399千円 739,897千円
-- per resident 7.75千円 3.11千円 5.94千円
- school lunch 3,231,306千円 992,560千円 661,472千円
-- per resident 21.83千円 5.21千円 5.31千円

Despite Musashino having a higher average income, they still spend to most on welfare among the 3 cities, but the difference is not that significant.

Educational expenses on the other hand show that per resident Musashino spends more than twice of Mitaka and almost 3x of Koganei. This is a huge difference, so I wanted to drill down a bit, but couldn’t find a single reason why the difference (having items like “general expenses” also don’t really help).

Spending 4x as much as the other cities on school lunches is also interesting, as I expected that this would make school lunches free in Musashino, but the price students need to pay seem to be the same in all three cities. Musashino says on their website that the price of school lunches is used to cover the costs of ingredients, and the city pays for staff, utilities, and maintenance.

So I decided to look into other years to see if this was just an outlier year (e.g. due to some one-time big purchase like buying land for a new building, or organizing some national competition), or if this is a persistent trend.

Spending on eduction for 2019 (source), 2020 (source), 2021 (as above), 2022 (source), using 2021 population numbers for the per resident spending:

Educational expenses Musashino Mitaka Koganei
2019 9,673,062千円 7,981,140千円 3,640,677千円
- per resident 65.35千円 41.88千円 29.21千円
2020 10,036,056千円 8,182,037千円 4,695,724千円
- per resident 67.80千円 42.93千円 37.68千円
2021 13,796,513千円 7,871,068千円 4,276,149千円
- per resident 93.20千円 41.30千円 34.31千円
2022 12,127,456千円 8,656,292千円 3,987,496千円
- per resident 81.93千円 45.42千円 32.00千円
4 year’s average (per resident) 77.07千円 42.88千円 33.30千円

So Musashino seems to be consistently spending more than the other 2 cities, but 2021 was an outlier even for them. In the 4 year average they are spending 80% more than Mitaka and 2.3x as much as Koganei.


It was interesting to see that in some metrics these 3 cities are almost identical, and in others they show big differences. It has also been fun to try to guess what might be behind the difference in numbers.

Overall I believe all 3 cities are very similar in most meaningful metrics. Musashino having a higher budget, and especially spending more on education is definitely a plus, but I can’t say that this makes the other cities bad options.