Civ 6 Japan Guide

The Complete Civ 6 Japan Guide

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Compared to Civilization 5, Civilization 6 offered a lot of new mechanics. Our Civ 6 Japan guide will see how the new mechanics are a way to decentralize the power of a city. For example, you must build wonders such as the Pyramids and the Eiffel Tower on a specific tile. These tiles must meet their requirements. This way, the territory is essential, and expanding it is a must when trying to build wonders. Another feature added to the game is districts. Districts were not present in previous installments.

Districts are essential components of a city. They help it develop in areas such as amenities, housing, population, et cetera. Like wonders, you build them outside of the City Center. You can only construct certain buildings in an existing district. For example, the library needs a Campus district.

These districts also gain bonuses depending on their adjacent tiles. For example, a Harbor district can get additional points when you place it next to coastal resources and other districts. As you can see, districts are extremely essential in developing a city. Certain civilizations have abilities that can utilize districts to greater heights. Japan is one of those civilizations, as its leader’s unique ability increases a district’s output. Read on further to find out how.

Civilization 6: Japan background

Civilization 6 Japan

“The great wave of Buddhism follows you, Shikken of Japan, Hojo Tokimune. Your people truly understand what it is to practice balance, and even your finest samurai will be well-learned and spiritually apt. Be strong, embrace the divine wind, and you will reach enlightenment.” – Civilization 6 Japan Introduction.

Japan background

Japan, also known as the Land of the Rising Sun, returns as a playable civilization in Civilization 6. It is one of the civilizations with the richest history and culture, dating back to its first known habitation in 30,000 BC. In history, it is known for its skilled fighters called samurais, its different struggles for power among the varying regions, its isolationist foreign policy, and its significant role in World War 2.

Now, it is more well-known for its media, such as anime, manga, and video games. Same with Civilization 5, Japan’s civilization symbol is a red cherry blossom flower (i.e., a Sakura) over a white background. The civilization’s default colors are white and dark red — which is prominent in its territorial borders, unit icons, and more.

Hojo Tokimune background

Hojo Tokimune background

This time, its leader is Hojo Tokimune, the eight shikken (i.e., the shogunate’s regent coming from the influential Hōjō clan) in Japan’s history. He is famous for repelling the Mongolian forces during his time. His action, in turn, truly shaped Japan’s future and developed into what it is today. By fighting against the Mongol threat, they remained an independent nation. Added to the fact that Japan experienced storms when the invasions began, the Mongols struggled to infiltrate the country.

When you go against Hojo Tokimune in Civilization 6, he has a few Japanese voiced lines that he says based on the situation. Below is a list of his quotes translated into the official English translation.

  • You build your empire as the Rising Sun: powerful and brilliant.” – when Hojo Tokimune approves of the player’s actions based on his agenda.
  • “To follow Bushido is to train the body, the mind, and the soul… but where can your people do so?” – when Hojo Tokimune disapproves of the player’s actions based on his agenda.
  • “The Divine Wind will protect us, and you will fall, like the others.” – when you attack Hoji Tokimune.
  • “I will not allow the Empire to suffer you any longer. The time has come to end this charade!” – when Hoji Tokimune declares war.
  • “Please end this dishonor to my family… to my people.” – when you defeat Hoji Tokimune.
  • “Hello, I am Hojo Tokimune of Japan, a humble disciple of Bushido.” – Hoji Tokimune’s Greeting.
  • “The only reason a warrior is alive is to fight, and the only reason a warrior fights is to win.” – Hoji Tokimune’s quote in Civilopedia.

Japan and Hoji Tokimune abilities

Japan’s ability: Meiji Restoration

Meiji Resotration

Japan’s ability is called the “Meiji Restoration”. It is an actual event in Japan’s history. In Civilization 6, Meiji Restoration grants six districts (Campus, Commercial Hub, Harbor, Holy Site, Industrial Zone, and Theatre Square) +1 of their respective yield for every adjacent district. Usually, these districts only gain a +0.5 for every adjacent district, meaning that you would get a +1 for every two of them.

In Japan’s history, the Meiji Restoration was a political event that occurred in 1868 under the rule of Emperor Meiji. Before the event, Japan had closed its borders from foreign interests like the Western powers, fearing that Japan would lose itself from Western influence. The event aimed to open its borders so that the nation could catch up to the outside world’s technology while at the same time preserving Eastern culture and ideology.

Hojo Tokimune’s ability: Divine Wind

Divine Wind

Japan’s leader Hojo Tokimune has the ability called “Divine Wind”. This ability results in Japan’s land and naval units gaining +5 Combat Strength when fighting on coastal and shallow water tiles. Furthermore, certain districts, particularly the Encampment, Holy Site, and Theatre Square districts, are built within half the usual time that it takes for them to normally build.

The introduction of the Gathering Storms DLC upgraded the ability; Japan’s districts, improvements, and units became immune to damage from hurricanes. Furthermore, when other civilizations are at war with Japan and the opposing civilizations are in Japan’s territory while a hurricane is happening, those under the hurricane’s effects get additional +100% damage.

These words are a literal translation from the phrase “kamikaze”, which pertains to different definitions between its origin and its modern usage. In history, the kamikaze were the two storms that aided Tokimune’s quest in repelling the Mongolian forces. As mentioned before, the Mongols tried to infiltrate Japan but were unsuccessful due to the kamikaze between China and Japan.

Its modern usage is much more sinister but nationalistic connotation. In World War 2, Japan integrated Japanese pilots to commit suicidal attacks against the Allies. These pilots were referred to as kamikaze pilots, under the metaphor that these pilots would be the storms that would repel the invading force just like when the Mongols tried to invade Japan.

Japan unique unit and infrastructure

Japan’s unique unit: Samurai

Japan can build a Samurai in the game. It is a unique unit that replaces the Man-at-Arms unit. You can unlock this unit by choosing Feudalism in the Civics Tree. It requires 10 Iron if you have the Gathering Storms DLC. When you train the unit, it will cost 160 production points. On the other hand, buying it will cost 640 gold, plus the maintenance fee is 3gold. It has a movement of 2, the sight of 2, and inflicts melee damage of 48.

Just like the Man-at-Arms, it specializes in going against anti-cavalry units, adding +5 Combat Strength when fighting them. What makes the Samurai unit unique is that it does not suffer from combat penalties when damaged. Below is a summary of its properties as well as a comparison between it and the Man-at-Arms unit.

  Samurai Man-at-Arms
Unlocked by Feudalism (Civics Tree) Apprenticeship (Tech Tree)
Resource 10 Iron (Gathering Storms) Iron (Base Game)


20 Iron (Gathering Storms)

Cost 160 (Production)


640 (Gold)

Maintenance 3 Gold
Movement 2
Sight 2
Melee Damage 48 45
Attributes +5 Combat Strength vs. anti-cavalry units
Special Attribute No combat penalty when damaged N/A

Japan’s unique infrastructure: Electronics Factory

CIv 6 Japan Electronics Factory

In the Industrial Era, Japan can exclusively build an Electronics Factory. It replaces the Factory building, and you can unlock it through Industrialization in the Tech Tree. You need the Industrial Zone district to build this building along with a Workshop building already in there.

To build it, you need 390 production points if you are playing the base game, or 330 production points if you are playing the Gathering Storms DLC. When built, it has a maintenance cost of 2 gold. The Electronics Factory building grants these features:

  • +4 production to all City Centers within six tiles of the building’s Industrial Zone district;
  • +1 Citizen Slot for its city;
  • +1 Great Engineer point per turn, and;
  • +4 Culture when you finish Electricity in the Tech Tree.

However, in the Gathering Storms DLC, it changed some attributes to the building’s effects. It reduced the “+4 production to all City Centers within six tiles of the building’s Industrial Zone district” effect to +3 production. Then, if the building is powered, it grants an additional +5 production. Finally, it has a base load of 2 power. Below is a summary of its properties, effects, and a comparison between it and the Factory building.

  Electronics Factory Factory
Unlocked by Industrialization (Tech Tree)
Required district Industrial Zone
Required Infrastructure Workshop
Cost 390 (Production) (Base Game)


330 (Production) (Gathering Storms)

Maintenance 3 (Gold)
Effects (Base Game) +4 production to City Centers within 6 tiles of district +3 production to City Centers within 6 tiles of district
+1 Citizen Slot
+1 Great Engineer point per turn
+4 Culture (Electricity required) N/A
Effects (Gathering Storms) +3 production to City Centers within 6 tiles of district
+5 production if powered +3 production if powered
Base Load: 2 Power
+1 Citizen Slot
+1 Great Engineer point per turn
+4 Culture (Electricity required) N/A

How to win with Japan in Civilization 6

Utilizing Meiji Restoration

Although Meiji Restoration does not look like it is a good ability, it is an insanely good ability. Here is an example of how it works: if you are playing Japan and your Campus district has six districts on all tiles beside it, you would get a +6 Science yield bonus. If you were not playing Japan, you would get +3 instead. That is a big difference!

So, to utilize Meiji Restoration at its fullest potential, the key is to keep your cities close and cluster the districts together. This way, you can get a lot of adjacency bonuses. Of course, other adjacency bonuses must be examined as well, not just the districts. They should be the bonuses that are outwards the cluster of districts. For example, putting a campus among the upper tiles with mountains on them is a good strategy while setting the other districts below the campus.

You can boost Meiji Restoration’s skill by utilizing the policy cards that increase district adjacency bonuses, such as in the list below. The letters beside the policy card names are either the type of policy card or the necessary expansion pack; for policy card types:

  • (E) stands for Economic type
  • (M) stands for Military type
  • (D) stands for Diplomatic type
  • (W) stands for Wildcard type
  • (DA) stands for Dark Age type
  • (GA) stands for Golden Age type

For expansion packs:

  • [R&F] stands for Rise and Fall
  • [GS] stands for Gathering Storms
Policy Card Description Replaces Unusable by Civic Era
Natural Philosophy (E) +100% adjacency bonuses to Campus N/A Five-Year Plan Recorded History Classical Era
Scripture (E) +100% adjacency bonuses to Holy Site God King N/A Theology Classical Era
Naval Infrastructure (E) +100% adjacency bonuses to Harbor N/A Economic Union Naval Tradition Medieval Era
Aesthetics (E) +100% adjacency bonuses to Theatre Square N/A Sports Media Medieval Fairs Medieval Era
Craftsmen (M) +100% adjacency bonuses to Industrial Zone N/A Five-Year Plan Guilds Medieval Era
Town Charters (E) +100% adjacency bonuses to Commercial Hub N/A Economic Union Guilds Medieval Era
Simultaneum (E) +50% Faith from Holy Site buildings if the population is 10 [R&F]/15 [GS] or higher, +50% more if Holy Site has at least +3 [R&F]/+4 [GS] adjacency bonus N/A N/A Reformed Church Renaissance Era
Rationalism (E) +50% Science from Campus buildings if population is 10 [R&F]/15 [GS] or higher, +50% more if Campus has at least +3 [R&F]/+4 [GS] adjacency bonus N/A N/A The Enlightenment Renaissance Era
Free Market +50% Gold from Commercial Hub buildings if the population is 10 [R&F]/15 [GS] or higher, +50% more if Commercial Hub has at least +3 [R&F]/+4 [GS] adjacency bonus N/A N/A The Enlightenment Renaissance Era
Grand Opera (E) +50% Culture from Theatre Square buildings if the population is 10 [R&F]/15 [GS] or higher, +50% more if Theatre Square has at least +3 [R&F]/+4 [GS] adjacency bonus N/A Professional Sports Opera and Ballet Industrial Era
Economic Union (E) +100% adjacency bonuses to Commercial Hub and Harbor Naval Infrastructure, Town Charters N/A Suffrage Modern Era
Five-Year Plan +100% adjacency bonuses to Campus and Industrial Zone Craftsmen, Natural Philosophy N/A Class Struggle Modern Era
Sports Media +100% adjacency bonuses to Theatre Square, and +1 Amenity from Stadium Aesthetics, Grand Opera N/A Rapid Deployment Atomic Era

Some policy cards that utilize districts, in general, can also be used since as Japan, you will be making many districts in each city. These policy cards include:

  • Insulae
  • Meritocracy
  • Liberalism
  • New Deal
  • Republican Legacy [R&F]
  • Democratic Legacy [R&F]
  • Free Inquiry
  • Heartbeat of Steam
  • Culture Industry

If you are having trouble choosing the right policy card for you, think about which victory type you would want to win, or which area you would want to boost. If you aim for a science victory, Natural Philosophy in the Classical Era is a good pick. It is also a good pick if you want to boost your Science output. Again, look at the district’s output. Focus on the district where its output contributes to your victory.

Utilizing Divine Wind

japan 2

Hojo Tokimune’s Divine Wind is a helpful ability to boost one’s army. Moreover, it also boosts the build time of certain districts. Firstly, let us discuss its first effect: the boost in Combat Strength for land and naval units fighting in coastal land tiles and shallow water tiles.

Combat Strength Boost

If you are playing on an Archipelago map, then Japan is perfect for the job. Most of the water tiles in Archipelago maps are bound to be shallow waters due to the widespread land, so naval combat on the ocean may seem unlikely at times. Use your Combat Strength boost to clear out barbarian camps early on as well, as many of them are set on coastal land tiles. This way, you can strengthen your land and naval units thanks to the EXP boost.

It is best to avoid fighting in the ocean when playing as Hojo Tokimune. Instead, you can bait your enemies into going to shallow waters so that you can reap the benefits of the Combat Strength boost Divine Wind offers. If you are not particularly going for a military victory, it is still an excellent ability to defend your coastal cities. So, for Japan, coastal cities benefit from Divine Wind more than inland cities.

District Build Time Halved

Another effect of Divine Wind is that certain districts, particularly the Encampment, Holy Site, and Theatre Square, are built within half the time. For example, a city that can make a Holy Site in 10 turns would only take five turns. So, Japan has a serious edge on a religious victory as they can make Holy Sites earlier than usual. Even if you are not aiming for a religious victory, it would be advisable to make a Holy Site as early as possible so that you can make your religion and reap its benefits.

Japan can also aim for a cultural victory or a domination victory thanks to the halved time for Theatre Square and Encampment building. If you are eyeing a neighboring city from another civilization, be sure to build an Encampment and pump out units as early as possible. This way, you can take it for yourself with your enemy being unable to defend your infiltration.

Other effects


Thanks to the Gathering Storms expansion pack, this ability garnered more benefits; all your districts, improvements, and units are immune to Hurricanes. Thanks to this helpful add-on, you do not have to worry about Hurricanes wrecking your coastal cities early on in the game. Furthermore, invading forces trying to attack your coastal cities can still get damaged while yours do not so you can use these hurricanes to your advantage. Still, you cannot control how they move and when they are created, so it is all up to luck.

Utilizing Samurai

The Samurai units serve as valuable units in your army. They are helpful during the Medieval Era, where there are a lot of cavalry units available. It is very effective against cavalry and does higher damage than the Man-at-Arms unit it replaces. Furthermore, its unique effect makes it stronger on a one versus one against an enemy since it does not weaken when damaged.

If you are aiming for Samurai units, then be sure to unlock Bronze Working so that you can view where the iron resources are. It is best to beeline for that tech so that you can settle your cities near them, assuming the other surrounding tiles reap good yields. If you notice a single iron tile on the tundra and nothing more, it is best to avoid setting to that location; you can spend your settler or your production better elsewhere.

Samurai can be useful and effective military units for invading cities as they can deter enemies one on one, where they are surprisingly strong. When doing so, be sure to accompany them with battering rams to knock the city’s defenses down. Samurais can get a huge boost if you go for an oligarchy government. Thanks to its abundant military policy slots. So, if you are aiming to strengthen your samurai units, equip some beneficial military policy cards with an Oligarchy government.

Utilizing Electronics Factory

The Electronics Factory for the Industrial Zone district is a massive threat against other civilizations aiming for a cultural victory. When you have researched the Electricity tech, these buildings give +4 Culture to its city. In general, factories are significant buildings to bolster your city’s production output, and Electronics Factory does that job but makes it better by giving additional cultural yields.

Furthermore, if you are playing with the Gathering Storms expansion pack, the Electronics Factory can give +5 Production more when electricity is powering it. So, make sure to power them up so that your city gains a massive boost to production. To earn more yields, it is best to assign Governor Magus (also known as The Steward) to a city with many Electronic Factories near it. City Centers can benefit from Electronic Factories that are six tiles near it even if the building does not belong to the city.

How to win against Japan in Civilization 6

There’s no doubt that Japan is a strong civilization, a force to be reckoned with. That’s why you need to be very careful if you are playing against it. Firstly, if you are playing against an AI, you must remember its leader agenda: Bushido.

Hojo Tokimune’s Bushido


Leader agendas guide the AI into who they want to be friends with and who to hate, and Hojo Tokimune’s agenda is Bushido. If you are looking to befriend him and have him as an ally, then be sure to have a strong military and significant Faith or Culture outputs, as he likes civilizations with these attributes. Otherwise, he dislikes those who have a strong military but are weak in the said yields.

If you are dead set on having the Japan AI be your ally, you can focus on getting strong Faith outputs. This can help you buy or strengthen your military using your Faith with the right religious bonuses (i.e., Warrior Monks, Crusade, and Defender of the Faith). It ties in perfectly with a religious victory in mind. If you are aiming for a cultural victory instead, you can focus on your military units.

General tips

If you are in a war against Japan, whether it be AI or human, here are some general tips that you should always keep in mind.

  • Avoid fighting on coastal land tiles or shallow water tiles. Remember: Japan’s units become stronger when fighting in these tiles. Topped with their Samurai units in the Medieval Era, they can be pretty hard to beat. If you can, try aiming for inland cities first before hitting coastal areas. That way, their army is focused on inland fighting. By the time you reach their coastal cities, their military has dwindled.
  • Focus on pillaging their city districts. Japan’s main strength is from the boost they get from districts. So, pillaging them would undoubtedly hurt the city’s yields.
  • When fighting against the Samurai unit, avoid facing it one versus one. Instead, aim to flank each Samurai unit one by one so that you can have the edge. Samurai units do not weaken in terms of Combat Strength when damaged. So, a one versus one is ideal for them.
  • Utilize range units against Samurai units, as they are slow in comparison to the Knight, a unit with the same Combat Strength as them.

Common mistakes as Japan

Japan is a very versatile civilization; however, many people still commit mistakes. Even though they are easy to understand, they can be hard to master. City planning is the core of Japan’s abilities. This aspect can be hard for many people most especially beginners. Below are some common mistakes players make when playing as Japan.

  • Divine Wind grants a boost in Combat Strength to all units. However, keep in mind that this boost is only applicable in certain areas. Particularly, units get this boost when fighting on coastal land tiles or shallow water tiles. They do not get this boost in ocean tiles at all.
  • Districts are the heart of Japan’s strength. Many beginners tend to forget about planning where to put their districts. As a result, Meiji Restoration is not fully utilized. Be sure to make your cities close to each other. This way, you can make districts close to each other as well.
  • When you can power your cities, always remember to power up the Electronics Factory. This is especially helpful for a cultural victory. Even if you are not aiming for a cultural victory, it can deter others who aim to reach that victory route.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is Japan good in Civilization 6?

Answer: Since this is a subjective question, the answer depends on the player’s ability and skills. Japan is overall a well-rounded civilization. It is excellent for beginners as its bonuses to districts can lead you to any victory type you want. Even among Civilization 6 fans, they rate Japan to be a top-tier civilization.

Question: What is the best map type for Japan in Civilization 6?

Answer: The best map type when playing as Japan would be the Archipelago map type, as it can use its Divine Wind ability most of the time due to the abundance of coastal land tiles and shallow water tiles. Alternatively, its worst map type would be the Pangea map, as most of the action takes place on land, not on the waters.

Question: What is the best pantheon for Japan in Civilization 6?

Answer: Since Japan excels in coastal cities, it can significantly benefit from God of the Sea, which grants +1 Production from Fishing Boats. However, if there are no Fish resource tiles in your area, it would be unwise to choose this. Another recommendation would be Initiation Rites which grants +50 Faith for each Barbarian Outpost cleared. Barbarian Outposts usually spawn near coastal land tiles, so Japan can easily clear these camps while gaining the bonus points.

Overall assessment and conclusion

Japan in Civilization 6 is a well-rounded civilization that can go for any victory type it wants. And that is because of its ability: Meiji Restoration. Domination, cultural, and religious victories are its best routes due to the following reasons:

  • It gets good Combat Strength bonuses thanks to Divine Wind and its unique unit, the Samurai, in the Medieval Era.
  • It can build Encampments faster for an advantage on a domination victory in the early game.
  • It can build Theatre Squares faster for an advantage on a cultural victory.
  • It can build Holy Sites faster for an advantage on a religious victory.

Even a science victory can be good since Meiji Restoration can boost a city’s science output immensely. When playing as Japan, be sure to focus on your districts and build them as early as you can to reap its benefits early on in the game. Its weakest victory route, but still a good option, is a diplomatic victory, as Japan’s ability does not give a boost at all in that regard. Overall, when playing as Japan, you need to be dynamic and flexible since you can adjust easily to any victory type when the situation calls for it.

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