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Study Abroad In Japan: What You Need To Know


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Rozele Kuo



Studying abroad is an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture, gain a global perspective, and expand your horizons. And when it comes to study abroad destinations, Japan offers a unique and enriching experience like no other. From its rich history and fascinating traditions to its cutting-edge technology and vibrant pop culture, Japan has something to offer for every student.


Japan is renowned for its world-class education system, renowned universities, and research institutions. Whether you’re interested in studying business, technology, arts, or language, there are numerous study abroad programs available to cater to a wide range of academic interests.


But studying abroad in Japan is not just about academics. It’s also about embracing a new way of life, developing cross-cultural communication skills, and forming lifelong friendships. The hospitality and kindness of the Japanese people are legendary, making it easy for students to feel welcome and at home in this beautiful country.


Moreover, Japan is known for its safety, cleanliness, and efficient public transportation system, making it an ideal destination for international students. It also offers a fascinating mix of ancient traditions and modern innovations, creating a dynamic and diverse environment for students to explore and learn from.


In this article, we will delve into the benefits of studying abroad in Japan, provide insights on choosing a study abroad program, discuss language requirements and preparation, guide you through the visa and immigration process, shed light on the cost of living and scholarships, explore housing options, explain the academic system in Japan, offer cultural adaptation and support service tips, provide health and safety advice, and encourage you to travel and explore all that Japan has to offer.


So, if you’re considering studying abroad and Japan has caught your interest, read on to discover everything you need to know to make your study abroad experience in Japan truly unforgettable.


Benefits of Studying Abroad in Japan

Studying abroad in Japan offers a wide range of benefits that will undoubtedly enrich your personal and academic life. Here are some compelling reasons why choosing Japan as your study abroad destination can be a life-changing experience:

  • Cultural Immersion: Japan has a rich and diverse culture that is deeply rooted in traditions. By studying in Japan, you will have the unique opportunity to immerse yourself in this rich cultural heritage, experiencing everything from tea ceremonies and traditional festivals to sumo wrestling and anime culture.
  • Language Acquisition: Japanese is a language spoken by millions of people around the world. By studying in Japan, you will have the chance to learn and improve your Japanese language skills. This could open up new career opportunities and enhance your global communication abilities.
  • Academic Excellence: Japan is known for its high-quality education system. Its universities consistently rank among the top in the world, offering a wide range of academic disciplines and cutting-edge research opportunities. Studying in Japan will allow you to learn from renowned professors and gain a valuable educational experience.
  • Professional Development: Japan is home to numerous global corporations and is at the forefront of technological advancements. By studying in Japan, you can gain valuable insights into Japanese business practices, enhance your cross-cultural communication skills, and build a strong international network that could benefit your future career.
  • Personal Growth: Studying abroad challenges you to step out of your comfort zone, adapt to new environments, and embrace different ways of thinking. Living in Japan will expose you to new perspectives, broaden your horizons, and foster personal growth, allowing you to become more independent, resilient, and globally-minded.

These are just a few of the many benefits of studying abroad in Japan. The country’s unique blend of tradition and innovation, combined with its warm hospitality and vibrant culture, make it an ideal destination for students seeking an unforgettable study abroad experience.


Choosing a Study Abroad Program

When it comes to choosing a study abroad program in Japan, it’s essential to consider several factors to ensure it aligns with your academic goals and personal interests. Here are some key aspects to consider when selecting a study abroad program:

  • Program Focus: Determine the specific academic focus of the program and ensure it aligns with your field of study or interests. Consider whether you prefer a program that focuses on language study, cultural immersion, or a specific discipline.
  • Program Length: Decide on the duration of study that suits your needs. Japan offers short-term programs that last a few weeks or summer programs, as well as semester or year-long programs for more in-depth study.
  • University or Language School: Consider whether you prefer to study at a Japanese university or enroll in a language school. Universities offer a wide range of disciplines, while language schools focus primarily on Japanese language study.
  • Location: Explore the different cities and regions in Japan where study abroad programs are available. Each location offers a unique experience, from the bustling streets of Tokyo to the calming atmosphere of Kyoto.
  • Language Requirements: Check the language requirements of the program you are considering. Some programs may require proficiency in Japanese, while others offer courses taught in English. Assess your language skills and choose accordingly.
  • Support Services: Research the support services provided by the study abroad program. Look for programs that offer pre-departure orientations, on-site support, cultural activities, and assistance with accommodation and visa processes.
  • Cost: Consider the overall cost of the program, including tuition fees, accommodation, meals, and additional expenses. Look into scholarships, grants, and financial aid options that can help offset the cost of studying abroad in Japan.
  • Reviews and Testimonials: Read reviews and testimonials from previous students who have participated in the program. Their experiences can provide valuable insights into the quality and effectiveness of the study abroad program.

Ultimately, the key to choosing the right study abroad program in Japan is to carefully evaluate your academic goals, personal interests, and logistical considerations. Take your time to research your options, seek advice from study abroad advisors, and choose a program that will provide you with a fulfilling and rewarding experience in Japan.


Language Requirements and Preparation

One of the important aspects to consider when planning to study abroad in Japan is the language requirements and the preparation needed to succeed in a Japanese-speaking environment. While some study abroad programs offer courses taught in English, having a basic understanding of the Japanese language can greatly enhance your experience. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Language Proficiency: Check the language requirements of the study abroad program you are interested in. Some programs may require a minimum level of Japanese proficiency, while others may have no language requirements. Assess your current level of Japanese language skills and choose a program that suits your proficiency.
  • Japanese Language Study: If you have little to no knowledge of the Japanese language, consider enrolling in a Japanese language course before your study abroad program. Many universities, language schools, and online platforms offer Japanese language classes for beginners. Learning basic phrases, greetings, and expressions will be immensely helpful in daily interactions.
  • Language Exchange Programs: Engaging in language exchange programs or finding language exchange partners can also help you practice speaking Japanese and improve your language skills. These programs offer an opportunity to connect with native Japanese speakers who are keen to learn your native language in exchange.
  • Immersive Language Experience: Once in Japan, try to immerse yourself in the language as much as possible. Engage in conversations with locals, practice reading signs and menus, watch Japanese movies or anime with subtitles, and regularly listen to Japanese music or podcasts. The more you expose yourself to the language, the faster you’ll become comfortable using it.
  • Cultural Understanding: Language and culture go hand in hand. Familiarize yourself with Japanese customs, etiquette, and social norms. Understanding the cultural context will not only help you navigate daily life but also improve your interpersonal communication with Japanese people.
  • Language Support Services: Many study abroad programs provide language support services such as Japanese classes, language exchange programs, and language tutors. Take advantage of these resources to enhance your language skills during your time in Japan.

Remember, learning a language takes time and effort. Don’t be discouraged by initial challenges. Embrace opportunities for language practice and be open-minded. Even a basic grasp of the Japanese language will greatly enhance your study abroad experience and allow you to connect with the local culture in a more meaningful way.


Visa and Immigration Process

Before you can study abroad in Japan, it is important to understand the visa and immigration process to ensure a smooth transition. Here is an overview of the steps involved:

  • Determine Visa Type: The type of visa you need will depend on the duration and purpose of your stay in Japan. For most study abroad programs, students typically apply for a Student Visa (留学ビザ – Ryugaku Visa).
  • Acceptance from a Japanese Institution: After receiving acceptance from a Japanese university or language school, they will provide you with necessary documents such as a certificate of eligibility (COE).
  • Submit Application: Once you have the COE and other required documents, you can submit your visa application to the nearest Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country.
  • Visa Application Documents: The typical documents required for a Student Visa application include the COE, a valid passport, a completed visa application form, a recent photograph, proof of financial ability to support your stay, and a certificate of enrollment from the Japanese institution.
  • Visa processing: The processing time for a Student Visa application varies by country, so it is advisable to apply well in advance of your intended departure date. Check the embassy or consulate website for the most up-to-date processing times and requirements.
  • Entry into Japan: Once your visa is approved, you can proceed with your travel arrangements. Upon arrival in Japan, you will need to go through immigration and present your passport, visa, and other supporting documents to the immigration officer.
  • Residence Card: After arriving in Japan, you will need to obtain a Residence Card, which serves as your identification during your stay. The card is issued by the local municipal office (市役所 – shiyakusho) and must be obtained within 14 days of arrival in Japan.
  • Renewal and Extensions: If you plan to stay in Japan beyond the expiration date of your initial visa, you will need to apply for an extension or renewal. This process should be initiated well in advance to ensure a smooth transition.

It is essential to consult the official website of the Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country for detailed and up-to-date information on visa requirements and procedures. Additionally, your study abroad program or Japanese institution may also provide guidance and support throughout the visa application process.


Remember, complying with visa regulations and completing the necessary procedures will allow you to fully enjoy your study abroad experience in Japan without any legal complications.


Cost of Living and Scholarships

Understanding the cost of living in Japan and exploring scholarship opportunities is crucial when planning to study abroad. Here’s a breakdown of the cost of living in Japan and the various scholarships available:

  • Cost of Living: Japan is known for its relatively high cost of living, particularly in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Expenses to consider include accommodation, transportation, food, health insurance, textbooks, and personal expenses. It is important to create a budget and be mindful of your spending to ensure a comfortable stay.
  • Accommodation: The cost of accommodation varies depending on location, size, and type. Dormitories, shared apartments, and homestays are common options for students. Consider the proximity to your institution and the facilities provided when making a decision.
  • Transportation: Public transportation in Japan is efficient but can be costly. Budget for transportation expenses such as train or bus fares, as well as travel expenses for exploring the country during weekends and breaks.
  • Food: While it’s possible to find affordable options, dining out and groceries can still add up. Cooking at home and exploring local markets can help reduce food expenses. Additionally, universities often offer campus cafeterias and student discounts at restaurants.
  • Health Insurance: It is mandatory for international students in Japan to have health insurance. Enrollment in the National Health Insurance (NHI) system is usually required. Check with your university or study abroad program for more information on health insurance options.
  • Scholarship Opportunities: There are various scholarships available to support international students studying in Japan. These scholarships can cover tuition fees, living expenses, or both. Some scholarships are offered by the Japanese government, while others are provided by private organizations or international exchange programs. Research and apply for scholarships that align with your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and financial needs.
  • University Scholarships: Many Japanese universities offer scholarships specifically for international students. These scholarships may be based on academic excellence, research potential, or financial need. Reach out to the international student office at your chosen institution to inquire about the available scholarships and application procedures.
  • External Scholarships: There are several external scholarships that cater to international students studying in Japan. For example, the Monbukagakusho Scholarship offered by the Japanese government, the JASSO Scholarship, and scholarships offered by private organizations like Rotary International. Research and apply for these opportunities well in advance as the application process may be competitive.

Remember to plan your finances carefully and explore scholarship opportunities to make your study abroad experience in Japan more affordable. Utilize all available resources, both within your chosen institution and from external sources, to find financial assistance that can support your educational journey in Japan.


Housing Options

When studying abroad in Japan, there are several housing options to consider, each with its own advantages and considerations. Here are a few common choices for international students:

  • Dormitories: Many universities in Japan offer dormitory options specifically for international students. Dormitories can provide a convenient and immersive experience, allowing you to interact with fellow students from different backgrounds. This option often includes meal plans and shared facilities like common areas, kitchens, and laundry rooms. It’s a great way to form friendships and immerse yourself in the university community.
  • Shared Apartments: Another popular choice is living in a shared apartment, where you rent a room within an apartment shared with other students or professionals. This option offers more independence and allows you to experience Japanese daily life in a residential neighborhood. Shared apartments often come furnished and have common areas such as living rooms and kitchens.
  • Homestays: Living with a Japanese host family provides a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and improve your language skills. Host families offer a supportive environment and can introduce you to Japanese customs and traditions. This option is ideal for students seeking a more personal and family-oriented experience in Japan.
  • Private Apartments: Some students may prefer the privacy and freedom of renting a private apartment. This option allows for more independence but also requires taking care of all aspects, such as finding and signing a lease, paying utility bills, and furnishing the apartment. It can be more expensive and may require a longer-term commitment.
  • Temporary Accommodations: For short-term stays or if you need a temporary place to stay upon arrival, there are options like guesthouses, hostels, or monthly furnished rentals. These options provide flexibility and can be more affordable for short stays while you search for a more permanent housing solution.

When choosing your housing option, consider factors such as proximity to your university, budget, lifestyle preferences, and opportunities for cultural exchange. It’s also essential to research and plan well in advance, as housing availability can vary depending on the location and time of year.


Reach out to your study abroad program or university’s international student office for guidance and resources in finding suitable accommodation. They can provide valuable insights and support in navigating the housing options available in your chosen city.


Academic System in Japan

Understanding the academic system in Japan is essential for international students planning to study abroad. Here is an overview of the key aspects of the Japanese academic system:

  • Academic Calendar: The academic year in Japan typically starts in April and is divided into two semesters – the spring semester from April to September and the fall semester from October to March. Some institutions may follow a trimester system or have additional short study periods during the summer and winter breaks.
  • Course Structure: Courses in Japanese universities are usually credits-based. Students can select from a wide range of courses offered by their respective faculties or departments. The courses are categorized into mandatory courses, elective courses, and seminars. It’s important to review the course syllabus and select courses that align with your academic goals or interests.
  • Teaching Methods: The teaching style in Japanese universities often involves a combination of lectures, group discussions, and practical exercises. Professors encourage active participation and critical thinking from students. Some courses may also include field trips, laboratory work, or internships to provide practical experience in the field of study.
  • Evaluation and Grading: Evaluation methods can vary depending on the course and professor. Assessments commonly include written exams, research papers, oral presentations, group projects, and class participation. Grading in Japan is typically based on a scale of 0 to 100, with 60 or above considered a passing grade.
  • Study Environment: Japanese universities prioritize academic discipline, punctuality, and respect for professors and fellow students. It is common for students to address professors using honorific titles and maintain a formal atmosphere in the classroom. Collaborative group work and active student engagement are also encouraged.
  • Research Opportunities: Japan is renowned for its cutting-edge research and innovation. Many universities offer research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. Taking part in research projects can provide valuable hands-on experience and foster connections with professors and researchers in your field of interest.
  • Student Support Services: Japanese universities provide various support services to assist international students. These services include academic advising, career counseling, language support, cultural exchange programs, and student clubs and organizations. Take advantage of these resources to enhance your academic and personal development during your study abroad journey.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific academic regulations and guidelines at your chosen university or study abroad program. The international student office or academic advisor can provide comprehensive information about the academic system, course registration procedures, and policies relevant to your academic journey in Japan.


Cultural Adaptation and Support Services

When studying abroad in Japan, cultural adaptation plays a significant role in making the most of your experience. The unique cultural aspects of Japan can be both exciting and challenging, but there are support services available to help you navigate this process. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Cultural Orientation: Many study abroad programs offer cultural orientation sessions to familiarize students with Japanese customs, etiquette, and social norms. These sessions provide valuable insights into daily life, communication styles, and cultural expectations. Embrace this opportunity to learn and adapt to the Japanese culture.
  • Language Support: Language can be a barrier when adapting to a new culture. Japanese language courses, language exchange programs, and language tutors are often available at universities and language schools to support international students in improving their Japanese language skills. Communicating with locals in their language can enhance cultural understanding and facilitate integration.
  • International Student Associations: Many universities have international student associations or clubs that provide a supportive community for international students. These associations organize cultural events, outings, and social gatherings that allow you to meet other international students and foster cross-cultural friendships.
  • Support from Local Students: Engaging with local Japanese students can be a valuable way to learn more about the culture and make connections. Don’t hesitate to participate in extracurricular activities, join student clubs, or attend cultural events where you can interact with Japanese students and build meaningful relationships.
  • Intercultural Training: Some universities offer intercultural training programs to help international students navigate cultural differences. These programs incorporate workshops, seminars, and discussions to promote intercultural understanding and develop the skills necessary to thrive in a diverse environment.
  • Mental Health and Counseling Services: Adjusting to a new culture can be emotionally challenging. Japanese universities usually provide counseling services and mental health support to students. If you find yourself struggling, don’t hesitate to seek help from these services. They can offer guidance and support during your adaptation process.
  • Exploring Japanese Culture: Take advantage of opportunities to explore and immerse yourself in Japanese culture. Participate in traditional cultural activities like tea ceremonies, calligraphy, martial arts, or festivals. Engage with the local community and embrace the country’s rich cultural heritage to enrich your study abroad experience.

Remember, cultural adaptation is a journey that takes time. Be patient with yourself and embrace the opportunity to learn and grow. Utilize the support services available to you and seek guidance when needed. By actively engaging with the culture and taking advantage of support systems, you can enhance your cultural understanding and make the most of your study abroad experience in Japan.


Health and Safety Tips

Ensuring your health and safety while studying abroad in Japan is of utmost importance. Here are some essential tips to help you stay safe and maintain your well-being during your time in Japan:

  • Health Insurance: It is mandatory for all international students in Japan to have health insurance. Enroll in the National Health Insurance (NHI) system or obtain adequate private health insurance coverage to ensure you can access medical services and receive necessary treatment if needed.
  • Medications: If you take prescription medications, make sure to bring an adequate supply to last your entire stay in Japan. Research the regulations regarding bringing medications into the country, and consider obtaining a Japanese translation of your prescription or a letter from your doctor explaining the purpose of your medication.
  • Medical Facilities: Familiarize yourself with the location of medical facilities near your university or place of residence. Research and keep contact information for nearby hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies in case of emergencies or routine check-ups.
  • Emergency Services: In case of emergencies, dial 119 for ambulance services, 110 for the police, and 118 for fire services. It is important to have a clear understanding of emergency protocols and know the appropriate numbers to call when needed.
  • Food and Water Safety: Japan has high food safety standards, but it’s still important to be cautious. Wash your hands frequently, especially before meals, and ensure that food is cooked and served properly. Drink tap water, as it is generally safe, but be mindful of consuming water from unverified sources while traveling.
  • Personal Safety: Japan is considered a safe country, but it’s always important to exercise caution. Be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas, and keep your belongings secure. Avoid walking alone in unfamiliar areas late at night and familiarize yourself with local transportation schedules and routes.
  • Natural Disasters: Japan is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons, and tsunamis. Stay informed about emergency procedures and evacuation routes provided by your university or local authorities. Familiarize yourself with earthquake safety measures and make sure to have an emergency kit with essentials like food, water, flashlight, and a portable battery charger.
  • Mental Well-being: Studying abroad can be emotionally challenging. Take care of your mental well-being by seeking support when needed. Stay connected with friends and family back home and build a support network with fellow international students or local friends. Engage in activities that bring you joy, practice self-care, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Remember, staying healthy and safe in Japan requires being proactive and responsible. Adhere to local laws and regulations, follow safety guidelines, and seek assistance or advice if you have any concerns. By taking these precautions, you can focus on making the most of your study abroad experience while ensuring your well-being.


Travel and Explore Japan

Studying abroad in Japan provides a fantastic opportunity to explore the rich cultural heritage, breathtaking landscapes, and vibrant cities of this beautiful country. Here are some tips and recommendations for traveling and discovering the wonders of Japan:

  • Weekend Trips: Take advantage of your weekends and holidays to explore different regions of Japan. With a well-connected transportation system, you can easily visit nearby cities or go on day trips to historical sites, natural parks, or traditional villages. Research local attractions and plan your itinerary in advance to make the most of your time.
  • Rail Pass: Consider purchasing a Japan Rail Pass if you plan to travel extensively by train. This pass offers unlimited travel on Japan Railways (JR) lines for a fixed period. It can be a cost-effective option, especially for long-distance travel between major cities.
  • Local Cuisine: Japan is renowned for its diverse and delicious cuisine. Try regional specialties like sushi, ramen, tempura, and okonomiyaki. Don’t hesitate to explore local food markets and izakayas (Japanese pubs) to sample a variety of dishes. Vegetarians and vegans can also find options that cater to their dietary preferences.
  • Cultural Festivals: Japan is known for its vibrant festivals. From the cherry blossom viewing (hanami) in spring to the temples’ illuminations (hanabi) in summer, and the autumn foliage (koyo) in fall, there are numerous cultural events throughout the year. Participate in these festivities to experience the unique traditions and celebrations of Japan.
  • Hiking and Nature: Japan boasts stunning natural landscapes, including mountains, beaches, and hot springs. Explore hiking trails such as Mount Fuji, the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes, or the picturesque villages of the Japanese Alps. Visit national parks like Nikko, Yakushima, or Hakone for a serene escape into nature.
  • Historical Sites: Discover Japan’s rich history by visiting historical sites like Kyoto’s temples and shrines, Nara’s ancient capital, Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, or the preserved samurai district of Kanazawa. Immerse yourself in the country’s past and learn about its cultural heritage.
  • Modern Landmarks: Japan is also known for its modern landmarks and bustling cities. Explore the dynamic streets of Tokyo, visit the iconic Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Skytree for panoramic views, and experience the vibrant energy of neighborhoods like Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Harajuku. Don’t miss the lively nightlife and entertainment districts in cities across the country.
  • Etiquette and Respect: While exploring Japan, be mindful of local customs and etiquettes. Respect cultural norms, such as bowing when greeting others, removing shoes in certain establishments, and properly disposing of trash. Familiarize yourself with basic Japanese phrases to communicate politely.

Japan offers a plethora of opportunities for discovery and adventure. Embrace the spirit of exploration, be open to new experiences, and immerse yourself in the beauty and charm of this fascinating country. Keep an eye on local events, festivals, and travel recommendations to make the most of your time in Japan.



Studying abroad in Japan is an extraordinary opportunity to immerse yourself in a rich cultural experience, expand your global perspective, and further your academic and personal growth. From its renowned educational institutions to its captivating traditions and stunning natural beauty, Japan offers a unique and unforgettable study abroad journey.


Throughout this article, we have explored the benefits of studying abroad in Japan, including the cultural immersion, academic excellence, and personal development opportunities it provides. We discussed important factors to consider when choosing a study abroad program, such as program focus, language requirements, and support services.


We also covered the visa and immigration process, emphasizing the importance of understanding the requirements and ensuring a smooth transition to Japan. Additionally, we highlighted the importance of managing the cost of living and exploring scholarship opportunities to make your study abroad experience more affordable.


Understanding the academic system, cultural adaptation, and support services in Japan is crucial for a successful study abroad experience. We provided insights into the academic structure, housing options, cultural adaptation, and the availability of support services.


Furthermore, we emphasized the importance of health and safety, sharing tips on health insurance, medical facilities, personal safety, and maintaining overall well-being. Additionally, we encouraged students to take the opportunity to travel and explore Japan, immersing themselves in the country’s cultural richness, natural wonders, and historical sites.


In conclusion, studying abroad in Japan offers a transformative experience that combines educational excellence, cultural immersion, personal growth, and adventure. By embracing the unique opportunities, respecting the local culture, and seeking support when needed, you can make the most of your study abroad journey in Japan. Prepare yourself for an unforgettable experience that will broaden your horizons, foster lifelong memories, and shape your future in remarkable ways.