Moving to Japan is not easy for many reasons. Japan is an archipelago consisting of nearly 7,000 islands. The four largest islands are: Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku, which are connected by underwater bridges or tunnels, make up about 98% of the total area of Japan, which is slightly larger than Germany but has about twice as many inhabitants.
The capital is Tokyo, where 36 million people live in the metropolitan area, and the currency is the yen. The number of immigrants in Japan is over 2 million (1.5% of the population).
Moving to Japan
There are different types of visas depending on the purpose of your stay.
Citizens of many countries entering for tourist purposes (less than 90 days) do not need a visa –
For stays longer than 90 days, for any purpose, it was and is necessary to apply for a visa. This document, Certificate of Eligibility, is issued by the Japanese immigration authorities at the request of your sponsor (Japanese employer or, in the case of study, by a Japanese educational institution).
Once you receive the Certificate of Eligibility (usually within 2-3 months), you will need to go to the visa office of the Japanese Embassy to obtain the visa. You can find all the information on the website of the Immigration Office of Japan
When you move to Japan to live and work, even for a short period of time, you will have to deal with a completely different culture than the one you are used to. It’s a performance-driven but fiercely competitive work environment with extreme respect for hierarchies.
The rules and customs are different from those in the West. It is therefore advisable to familiarise yourself with the traditions and behaviours in Japan, both in your personal and professional life, before making the move.
Remember that Japanese society is a very traditionalist, conservative, and closed society that has always been and still is suspicious of foreigners.
If you want to move to Japan, you should know Japanese or alternatively have an excellent level of English. In any case, if you plan to move to Japan for an extended period of time, knowledge of Japanese is essential.
There are several ways to move to and live in Japan:
A language school is one of the easiest ways to move to Japan. You must enroll in a language school to receive the Certificate of Eligibility. As a student of a course that lasts at least one year, you are eligible for a work permit that allows you to work 28 hours per week. Remember, however, that you must have a basic level of Japanese to work. A one-year course in Tokyo costs about $5,000/$6,000, slightly less in other cities.
2.Vocational training course
It is possible to take a vocational training course in Japan. After the course, you can be hired by a Japanese company. To enroll in these courses, you must know Japanese, as they are not schools for foreigners. These courses, which usually last two years, take place in institutes called Senmon Gakkou, such as a fashion and design institute. During the course it is possible to work part-time (28 hours per week).
It is possible to receive a scholarship for 5 or 7 years, depending on the university faculty (including a one-year Japanese course). All expenses are covered and you can graduate in Japan.
Vulcanus in Japan is an educational programme for European students of technical and scientific universities. The programme focuses on the study of the most advanced technologies and the knowledge and understanding of Japanese culture, with the goal of future employment in Japan. The course consists of:
- a study seminar on Japan
- 4 months intensive language course
- 8 months of internship in a Japanese company.
- in addition to accommodation, students will receive approximately € 15,000
5. Work in Japan
All information about working in Japan you can find in the specific post
Move to Japan, useful resources
- Guidebook Japan, Live and Work for Foreigners
- Guide to live in Japan, useful guide
- Guide to living in Japan, guide by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Living in Japan, small guide
- A Guide to Rental Housing, Guide to Rental Housing and Rules for Living in Japan
- Guide to Living and Studying in Japan, small guide
Moving to Japan accommodation
The search for permanent housing is easier in Japanese cities than in many European and American cities, despite the high population.
To rent a house or a room in Japan, you need to contact a real estate agency, because the owners refuse to deal with you directly if you are not fluent in Japanese.
When you sign the contract, you usually have to pay two/three months’ rent as a deposit (shikikin), which you will get back when you move out, and another deposit (reikin), equivalent to one or more months’ rent, which you will never get back (a kind of thanks to the owner).
In addition, you will need to take out property insurance and find someone to vouch for you (usually your employer). The agency fee is equivalent to one month’s rent. Keep in mind that you can find accommodations in Tokyo at prices ranging from at least $300 (room) to $700 (apartment) per month. Do not expect typical European/American apartment sizes; in Japan, apartments of 15 square meters are not uncommon.
Real estate websites
- Sakura House, gaijin house (house for foreigners), basically a room in a shared flat with other foreigners. It is a cheap choice
- Gaijin Real Estate, real estate agent
- Borderless-house, shared flats
- Agharta, real estate agent
- Oakhouse, popular website
- Couverture, shared apartments
- Residencetokyo, accommodation in Tokyo
- Ken, real estate agent for expat
- E-guesthouse, shared apartments
- Hituji, (in Japanese)
Health insurance in Japan
Once you get the residence, you must pay a mandatory fee for the public health system. In general, the public insurance covers 70% of the treatments, the remaining 30% must be paid by the patient. It is advisable to take out private health insurance to cover the 30% of costs that are not covered by the public system.