Guide to Moving to Japan

By Bahnaur Alisoglu and Norie Matsumoto | May Date, 2021

First off, congratulations on making a big life decision! You have decided you're moving to Japan and will embark on a new adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun. You are halfway through realizing your big Japan dream. Have you decided where to live? Do you have a job lined up already? What about housing? Making such a big decision is undoubtedly exciting, but moving abroad can be a little bit daunting when you don't know where to start. Fear not – we will help you get off to a good start in Japan with this in-depth guide to moving to Japan!  

This article is part of our extensive series on working in Japan.

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    The big question: Why are you moving to Japan?

    First things first! What made you think 'moving to Japan is the right choice for me'? Have you checked other options? Have you made a SWOT analysis and checked all the boxes before making this decision? Okay, now seriously, moving abroad requires a lot of soul-searching. What makes Japan unique for you among the other countries? I don't know your reasons, but I know the most common reasons people want to move to Japan are for work, study, or family! If you think one of these things (or all!) applies to you, please keep reading. Even if you are just starting to think about moving to Japan, I am sure you still will find lots of helpful information about living in Japan in this guide to moving to Japan. 

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    Guide to Moving to Japan: Work 

    So, you have decided to work in Japan – one of the strongest economies in the world. Well done! It is a solid reason to move abroad, especially to Japan. Now you wonder what kind of jobs are available to you. This guideline is an excellent place to start, but there are some boxes you should check before reading on. 

    1- Do you have at least a bachelor's degree in any field?

    2- Is English your mother tongue, or do you speak English fluently?

    3- Do you have intermediate or advanced knowledge of Japanese?

    If you have said YES to all: You are off to a good start. You probably know what you want to do in Japan but still need guidance. If you have said YES to one or two questions: That's great! There are plenty of jobs that don't require Japanese. You're about to discover them! Now, are you ready to learn more about what kind of jobs you can do in Japan? (Make sure you have a visa)

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    Full-time and part-time jobs

    After moving to Japan a foreigner, you will work either full-time or part-time. A full-time job in Japan means you have to work 40 hours a week. Contract employment isn't unheard of in Japan. The main difference between full-time employment and contract employment is that the latter ends if your employer doesn't renew your contract. For part-time positions, working hours vary depending on the job. 

    Types of jobs 

    What kind of jobs are available to foreigners in Japan? The answer is MANY. Do you remember the questions you answered before reading this? Now, you will understand better why I asked them. The availability of jobs in Japan will significantly depend on your background and skillsets. Online jobs are also an option!

    If you have Japanese under your belt, you will have a wide range of options. You can work in translation, game localization, sales, banking, tourism, the service industry, acting, and modeling. The sky's the limit! However, bear in mind that you will need at least a bachelor's degree to get a job in Japan. In some particular cases, you might not need a degree, but more on that later!  

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    Jobs for non-Japanese speakers 

    If you are an English speaker with little or no Japanese skills, you are not alone! Numerous foreigners moving to Japan speak little Japanese, and they still manage to find good jobs. The most popular jobs for non-Japanese speakers are English teaching jobs, IT jobs, and engineering jobs. For those who consider teaching English in Japan, there are different types of teaching jobs available. You can work as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) in public schools or choose to work in private language schools known as eikaiwa. Again, you will need at least a bachelor's degree to work as an English teacher in Japan. And again, in some cases (drum rolls, please!), you won't need that! 

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    Guide to Moving to Japan: Study

    Moving to Japan for your studies is a big commitment. For how long do you want to study in Japan? What is your dream major? What about your budget? Are you interested in scholarships? These are the questions you need to ponder over before starting to read this section. According to the government-approved information site Study in Japan, there were 312,214 international students in Japan as of May 2019. You can easily be one of them if studying is why you want to move to Japan! Firstly, let's look at your options and see if studying in Japan appeals to you. 

    Long term and short term studies

    When people think about moving to Japan for the purpose of studying, they usually imagine a fancy diploma wrapped with a red ribbon. If it is what you dream of, look no further than long-term studies. With more than 700 universities you will have plenty of options available in Japan. You might say, "Hey, I already have a degree! I just need to polish my Japanese skills or have cross-cultural experience!". I hear you. In this case, I am sure you'll be glad to hear Japanese universities also offer short-term studies that can last from a few weeks to a year, depending on the program. They don't lead to a degree, but they might lead to a great cultural experience! You could also learn Japanese online for free if you want a convenient and financially smart option.

    If you only want to attend Japanese school part-time, this article will tell you everything you need to know.


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    Types of schools

    You have decided on the length of your studies. Well done! Now, it is time to think about what kind of school might suit you best. The good news is there are many universities to choose from across Japan. The bad news? Because there are many of them, you will need to search a lot before moving to Japan. Suppose you want to pursue long-term or short-term studies. In that case, you will need to dive into the world of public and private universities and specialized schools and colleges. Language schools are common places people go to learn Japanese. Here are the top language schools.  There are lots of options for universities in Japan and would be great for foreigners that want to immerse themselves into the fun student life that is prevalent in Japanese unis. What better way to get better at Japanese than to have conversations with natives?  You can join clubs or circles to meet Japanese friends or other foreigners that have common interests and goals. Also, you could go to student lounges and school events to meet with others. Not only that but Japanese universities are typically much more affordable than overseas like in America or the UK. Interested? Find out more with our article, Guide to Japanese Universities

    However, what you are looking for is not a university degree or a student exchange program but an excellent Japanese school, then your wish is granted! Japan Switch offers affordable afternoon and morning lessons in Tokyo. If you aren't in Tokyo, check out their online lessons tailored to your needs. 

    Types of scholarships

    About 80% of Japanese universities are private. If you can fork out ¥1,500,000 per year for your tuition, you'll be fine. Many of us aren't dealt a good hand in life, and the Japanese government and universities know that! There are two types of financial assistance available for international students in Japan; scholarships and tuition reduction systems. The latter isn't a scholarship per se, but it can be quite helpful if it means you pay only 30 or 50% of your tuition fee! 

    You can also apply for a scholarship before or after arriving in Japan. A handy tip for you: there are many options available if you apply for a scholarship after arriving in Japan. The Japanese government and private universities are the major scholarship grantors in Japan. You'll need to check out deadlines, requirements, and procedures for each scholarship. 

    Working on a student visa 

    Many prospective students wonder if moving to Japan to work on a student visa is possible. The answer is yes, provided that you have permission obtained from the immigration office and work a maximum of 28 hours a week. You can also work at your university without having to change your residence status. Beware, though! As an international student, you are not allowed to work in the adult entertainment industry. Also, you need to maintain your student status to be able to continue working. 


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    Deciding where you want to live after moving to Japan

    Next in this guide to moving to Japan, after deciding what you want to do when you move to Japan, the next step is to determine where you want to live. You don't want to skip this because where you live will impact your life in Japan largely. Imagine you end up living in a city or town that makes you unhappy for the rest of your stay in Japan. How dreadful would that be? And some people indeed resent where they live and ruin their Japan experience! To make sure you don't find yourself in such a scenario, you will need lots of soul-searching and practical info about city and countryside life in Japan. 

    Megacities and big cities 

    High-rise buildings, bustling streets, bright lights, and that buzzing energy! You can find them all and more in megacities and big cities in Japan. Tokyo in Kanto, Yokohama in Kanagawa, and Osaka in Kansai are the most populated cities in Japan. People who seek abundant opportunities, endless nightlife, and a vibrant cultural atmosphere find themselves in one of these cities. However, there are a few things you should consider before making your final decision. 

    Pros: job opportunities, exciting nightlife, various cultural and sports activities, easily accessible healthcare, expat communities, convenient transportation, and a large dating pool!

    Cons: ferocious competition for jobs, packed trains and buses, lack of personal space, and above all, high cost of living!

    Medium-sized and small cities

    Do you find the hustle and bustle of megacities and big cities unbearable but still want to live in a city? Got it! There are many medium-sized and small cities in Japan where you can enjoy city life without stress. And you have even more options – about 600! These cities usually have all the things you need – a reliable transportation system, supermarkets, hospitals, core shopping malls, bookstores, restaurants, and cafés. There are some things you need to take into account, though!

    Pros: low competition for jobs, less stressful and shorter commuting hours, lower cost of living, and close-knit expat communities. 

    Cons: less vibrant nightlife, less cultural and sports activities, less specialized clinics, and dental offices, and a smaller dating pool. 

    Countryside

    You think city life is not your thing. You're dreams of moving to Japan have nothing to do with the concrete jungle that is a major city. You are into nature and want to live in a small place, aka inaka in Japanese! It is a brave decision since not many foreigners opt for the countryside. At least not at the beginning of their Japan adventures! Living in an inaka is a unique experience where you can have a less portrayed but intriguing Japanese lifestyle. A quick look into the things you should consider!

    Pros: beautiful and untouched nature, various outdoor activities, stress-free lifestyle, and neighbors who know your name in actuality. 

    Cons: lack of job opportunities, few clinics, hardly any cultural activities, inconvenient transportation system, occasional natural disasters, and sadly almost nonexistent dating life.

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    Learning about different types of visas when moving to Japan

    So far, you know why you want to move to Japan and where you want to live. Whoa, your Japan dream is about to be real! Now, it is time to delve into some legal stuff that is very important to know before moving to Japan. Yes, you know what I am talking about: visas. You will want to make sure you have the correct visa when moving to Japan to eliminate legal problems. There are 27 types of visas in Japan currently, and it might be intimidating to learn all of them at first. After reading this section, you'll understand more about the most common visa types suited for what you do in Japan. 

    Working visa

    You want to work in Japan and have a job or planning to apply for one. Depending on what you do, there are different types of work visas. The most common ones are Instructor visa, Engineer/Specialist in humanities/International services visa, and Highly Skilled Professional visa. Let's see what kind of visa you need.

    Instructor visa: You can work as an instructor at educational institutions such as elementary, junior high, and high schools with this visa. You'll be required to have this visa if you decide to be an ALT. 

    Engineer/Specialist in humanities/International services visa: If you engage in an activity requiring skills and knowledge in natural science, social science, and humanities, you will need this visa. Also, keep in mind that most English teachers working at private schools hold Engineer/Specialist in humanities/International services visas. 

    Highly Skilled Professional visa: The holders of this visa are highly skilled professionals, as the name implies. Its primary purpose is to attract scientists, lawyers, business executives, among others, to Japan.  

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    General visa

    If you are interested in studying, doing an internship, or moving to Japan as a dependent, you will need to obtain a general visa. You won't be able to work under some of these visas unless you get permission from the immigration office. Here is the list of the most common general visas in this guide to moving to Japan:

    Student visa: Regardless of the school you attend, you will need a student visa if you study for more than three months in Japan. As long as you have permission on the back of your residence card, you can work a maximum of 28 hours a week with this visa. 

    Trainee visa: This is the visa you need if you secured an internship through an organization. It is best to keep in mind that applying for this visa as an individual is not possible. 

    Dependent visa: It shouldn't be confused with a spousal visa. Dependent visas are for foreign workers and students who intend to bring their non-Japanese families to Japan. Provided that your spouse has a job or goes to school in Japan, you can apply for it. 

    Specified visa

    There are different types of specified visas, but let's start with two simple questions to explain this category.

    1- Are you the spouse of a Japanese national?

    2- Are you the spouse of a residence permit holder?

    If your answer is "yes" to any of them, you will need a spousal visa. If you have children, they are also eligible for it. Spousal visas are pretty handy if you want to switch careers or even have several jobs in Japan. Do you remember the particular case where you might not need a degree to work in Japan? Well, this is the visa you are looking for if you want to work in Japan but are not a degree holder. 

    Working holiday visa: This is a popular visa among young people who want to stay in Japan for a year and have a chance to work at the same time. To be eligible for a working holiday visa, you need to make sure your country has an agreement with Japan. There is also an age limit. 

    If you want to know more in-depth about visas, check out our Ultimate Guide for a Japan visa

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    Guide to Moving to Japan: Understanding the housing system

    If there is one thing you should never overlook when moving to Japan, it is housing. Just like where in Japan you live matters, what kind of housing you have is equally important. After all, a peaceful and comfortable place you can call home is tantamount to happiness. Finding proper housing in Japan can be a tricky process if you don't familiarize yourself with its jargon. We'll be studying the housing vocabulary and your options in Japan in this section. Check out our article about real estate agencies in Japan.

    Renting an apartment

    You need your private space and also want it to be pleasant and cozy. You are already dreaming of the moments that you curl up on the couch with your cat. In this case, you will need to go to a local agent and rent an apartment. There might be different factors that you should think about before renting an apartment, though. For example, people in Japan usually choose the area they want to live in before renting an apartment. And about that cat you have? Unfortunately, you should know that pet-friendly apartments are scarce in Japan, so you might want to reconsider that option. Furnished apartments can make the move a lot easier!

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    1R, 1K, 1DK, 1LDK

    When you read these words, they won't make much sense at first. It's because they are unique to Japan. In the abbreviation 1R, "R" stands for room. You can think of one-room studio apartments with a separate bath unit. 1K means a studio apartment with a separate kitchen. 1DK means a two-room apartment with a separate kitchen and dining space. And lastly, a 1LDK is a well-structured one-bedroom apartment. "L" here stands for living room. You can also come across different variations, such as 2DK or 3LDK. That means they have additional rooms. As you can guess, the bigger your apartment is, the higher your rent will be. 

    Security Deposit and Key Money

    Security deposit and key money don't mean the same thing in Japan. There are two different initial fees you should pay when renting an apartment in Japan. You might be familiar with security deposits in your own country, but key money is a Japanese concept. The security deposit is usually equal to one month's rent. It covers the incurring damages and gets deducted if any restoration is needed when you move out. Key money, on the other hand, is a gift. You basically pay it to the landlord to show your gratitude. The good news is that since it is a financial burden on people, this tradition has declined. You can find plenty of properties that don't require key money these days. 

    Nearest station

    Having your house near a train station can be a matter of life and death in Japan. Especially for people who have to commute every single day! People, as expected, want to shorten their commute hours and eliminate the commute frustrations such as traffic jams. You can also save money on transport costs if your home is near a train station. Japanese agencies know that, too, and when they advertise an apartment, they let you know the nearest station. You should pay attention to this tiny detail during your housing search to spare yourself the trouble. 

    Share Houses

    If you don't want to deal with agencies and initial fees, moving to a share house can be a lifesaver. Share houses have separate private bedrooms with common shared spaces such as a kitchen and living room. They have lower initial and monthly costs than regular rental apartments. Share houses have a relatively high foreign resident ratio, and many young Japanese professionals live in them, too. If you want to make new friends and meet new people, a share house can be a great option. 

    Dormitories

    Are you a student who is abroad for the first time? Are you worried about security? Do you want emotional support and comfort? Then dormitories will be the best option for you. Dormitories are friendly, cozy, and fun places for most students. They are also budget-friendly and equipped with most of the things you will need when moving to Japan. There will be many chances to make new friends in dormitories since many students are beginners like you. 

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    Learning about the pension system

    As the friendly city hall staff will explain to you, the national pension scheme is mandatory for everyone aged 20 and 59. The monthly payment for the fiscal year of 2021 is ¥16,610. You can pay it monthly or quarterly. However, if you are a full-time worker enrolled in social insurance, it will automatically be deducted from your salary. The good news is that if it is your first time in Japan, you can be exempt from paying it for the first year. Another good news is that you can collect the last three years of your Japanese pension plan contributions as a lump sum when you leave Japan. 

    Understanding social insurance

    If you are a full-time employee working 40 hours a week, your company should enroll you in social insurance, aka shakai hoken in Japanese. You will pay your premiums through your company. This way, your health insurance and pension premiums, as well as unemployment insurance and income tax, will be subtracted from your monthly salary. Your premiums will differ depending on your prefecture and income. You are also eligible to collect your pension contributions for the last three years when leaving Japan. 

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    My Number Card

    "My Number" System is a friendly name for "Social Security and Tax Number System." It provides a 12 digits numerical number to all registered residents in Japan. A unique number will be created at the city hall, and a notification letter with an application form will be sent to your address. You'll send in your application and then wait for the second notification that says it's ready to be picked up from the city hall. My Number Card is used as proof of identity and required for various online applications and public services. 

    The tax system in Japan

    We pay taxes in different ways in Japan. Some taxes are deducted from our monthly income while we pay others by ourselves. You probably are asking now: "How much do I pay?" It depends on your job, residence status, the number of years you have worked in Japan, and your dependents. The most common tax deducted from your salary is the income tax. And the taxes you pay this year is based on how much you made last year. 

    Another tax you should be aware of is the residence tax. You will be exempt from residence tax for the first year. It is based on 6% of your previous year's earnings, just like the income tax. What about the tax returns? Most employees in Japan won't have to file any taxes since their companies handle this process for them. If you are self-employed or earn more than ¥20 million annually, you will have to file your taxes yourself. 

    Opening a bank account after moving to Japan

    When you move to Japan, one of the things you'll need is a Japanese bank account. This way, you can receive your salary, get a mobile phone, and set up your monthly payments. Opening a bank account when you move to Japan can be tricky if you don't know what you need. This guide will help you find a foreigner-friendly bank that will make this process as painless as possible for you. 

    How to get a hanko/inkan

    What is a hanko or inkan? It is a carved stamp used when signing legally binding papers. Foreigners and Japanese people use this individual hanko/inkan when signing contracts and opening bank accounts. Your hanko/inkan will be engraved with your name in Katakana or Kanji. The necessity of having an individual hanko/inkan depends on what you want to do in Japan. You'll mainly need it when opening a bank account and signing up for a mobile phone provider. You can find hanko/inkan for common names at 100 yen stores or get one specially made for you at hanko stores called hanko-ya. It usually takes half an hour to get a basic hanko/inkan done. The price varies depending on the material and size. 

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    Foreigner-friendly banks

    There are several banks in Japan, but not all of them offer English support. Most of the major banks, unfortunately, don't have an English website or app, either. But! Some of them are more foreigner-friendly than others. And don't forget to answer these questions before learning your options:

    1- You have been residing in Japan for six months at least.

    2- You have a residence card. 

    3- You have a registered address in Japan.

    4- You have a hanko/inkan. 

    As a legal resident, you should answer "YES" to questions 2 and 3. It won't be possible to open a bank account otherwise. The first question might intimidate you, but don't worry. Some banks don't require you to live in Japan for six months! Now, let's dive in and learn about the most popular foreigner-friendly banks of Japan!

    Japan Post Bank

    JP Post Bank (ゆうちょ銀行) is quite popular among foreigners. It provides info in different languages, doesn't require you to live in Japan for six months, or have a hanko/inkan! To open a bank account with JP Post Bank, you will need a residence card and proof of student or work enrollment. 

    Shinsei Bank

    Shinsei Bank (新生銀行) is a good option for those who have lived in Japan for six months at least. They don't require a hanko/inkan, but you need to have a Japanese phone number. To open a bank account with Shinsei Bank, you need to order a starter kit online. The required documents are a residence card and residence certificate (juminhyo) that you can get from the city hall. 

    Rakuten Bank

    Rakuten Bank (楽天銀行) is an online bank where you can open an account without visiting a branch. Rakuten also has a point card that you can use when shopping and accumulate points. You can open a bank account with Rakuten online. They let you upload the photos of any two documents to their website: passport, My Number Card, a residence card, and residence certificate. 

    Here is an article to compare, Best banks for foreigners in Japan: Ultimate Guide

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    Getting a credit card in Japan

    Getting a credit card in Japan is a bit more difficult than opening a bank account. You'll be subjected to a strict screening, especially if you have never had a credit card in Japan. However, some foreigner-friendly banks and credit card companies will allow you to earn those sweet points without sweating much! The most popular ones are J-Trust Mastercard, Rakuten Card, and EPOS Card. To apply for a credit card, you'll need to have a passport, residence card, hanko/inkan, proof of earnings, and proof of employment. You also need to stay in Japan for six months at least. 

    Our How to make a debit or credit card article will delve into this topic deeper.

    Choosing a mobile phone company guide

    From opening a bank account to chatting with your coworkers and managers on LINE, the reasons why you should get a mobile phone in Japan vary. Being a technologically advanced country, Japan doesn't disappoint those looking for different options. When choosing a mobile phone provider, you'll see there are mainly two options: major providers and MVNO plans with English support. Get to know about the Japanese SIM card.

    Major providers

    AU, NTT Docomo, and Softbank are the major providers in Japan. Each has its own incentives and plans. You can also buy your mobile phone through them. To purchase a contract mobile phone, you will need a residence card and a Japanese bank account. You can pay it in installments, and the monthly bill depends on the plan and phone of your choice. 

    If you want to compare your options, here is an article, Japan's Data and Voice SIM Providers Compared (Long-Term Options)

    MVNO plans with English support

    MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. Because MVNOs aren't bricks-and-mortar stores and they solely rely on network space, they usually offer more flexible and cheaper plans. Some of the MVNOs such as Sakura Mobile and Mobal offer English support. The other popular MVNOs are Y!mobile, B-Mobile, and Y.U Mobile. 

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    Strengths and limitations 

    You'll mainly take a train, subway, or bus when commuting in Japan. Some cities have monorails, trams, or ferries, but they are not so common. The biggest strength of public transportation in Japan is its punctuality. There will be only a few occasions where you won't make it to work or school on time. The second thing worth mentioning is that missing a train or bus is not the end of the world in Japan. No worries, the next one will approach the station in a few minutes! Last but not least, the regular trains are pretty fast in Japan, too. It's not only the bullet trains! 

    The major limitation one can think of is the cost. Sorry to break it to you, but Japan is an expensive country if you haven't figured it out by now. The cost of living in Japan also reflects on ticket prices. Buses are a tad cheaper than trains and subways, but they aren't as convenient and fast. The good news is that you can decrease your transportation expenses by using transportation cards and commuter passes!

    Transportation cards and commuter passes

    You will need an IC card, especially when transferring, because it will save you a lot of time and energy. Prepaid transportation cards, aka IC cards, are pretty easy to buy and use. You can buy them at the ticket vending machines in stations all over Japan. All you need to know is what type of IC card you need. There are ten types of IC cards that you can buy in different regions in Japan. For example, Suica Card is for JR East, Tokyo, and Eastern Japan. The Pasmo Card is for the Tokyo Metro. An Icoca Card is what you need for JR West, Osaka. These cards are interoperable, which means you can use a Tokyo card in Osaka and vice versa. Lastly, you can use your IC card when shopping at convenience stores or renting a locker! 

    Commuter passes, aka teikiken in Japanese, can save you a lot more than IC cards if you often travel between two stations. And it's the case for most employees and students. A commuter pass will allow you to save a lot of money while traveling unlimitedly between the designated stations. You can buy your commuter pass at selected ticket machines and sales counters in stations. 

    If you're still confused, here is the official website explaining commuter passes more in depth, Student/Commuter Railway Pass.

    Moving Guide: Transportation in Japan

    Japan has one of the world's most efficient public transportation systems that will fulfill your expectations. It has a reputation for being punctual, great, and often packed. A fun fact about transportation in Japan! Did you know that 45 of the 51 busiest train stations in the world are in Japan? I bet you didn't! And another fun fact! Did you know that Japan has a Hello Kitty train station? Probably you know that one if you are a devoted Hello Kitty fan! Whatever your reason to move to Japan is, you'll use public transportation at some point. Keep scrolling to learn about its unique world! 

    Commuting in Japan

    I must take a deep breath here and admit that commuting in Japan during rush hour is not a pleasant experience. If you are based in a megacity like Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka, you'll wish to avoid rush hours at any cost. If you are still asking why, please go back to the "fun" fact where I mentioned Japan harboring most of the busiest train stations in the world. Unfortunately, there's not much we can do about it. What you can do is to learn the strengths and limitations of the Japanese transportation system so that you'll be mentally prepared at least. 

    Here is an article, talking more about transportation in Japan.

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    Driving in Japan

    While public transportation is generally the way to go because of how affordable and reliable it is, you may be interested in getting an International Driver’s License. You can even rent yourself one of Japan’s famous Kei-cars (which you’ll see everywhere). 

    You can either convert your existing license to an International License OR you can attend a driving school and get yourself a Japanese license that way. Be warned - the latter can be rather expensive. You can read more about driving in Japan here.

    Guide to daily Living in Japan after moving

    You set foot in Japan and made sure you completed the legal steps. Now, it is time to adjust to daily life in Japan and learn some lifesaving tips to make your life easier and more enjoyable here. In this chapter, you will learn how to pay your bills, furnish your apartment and make the most of the convenience stores in Japan. 

    Paying bills

    You started receiving your monthly electricity, gas, water, and internet bills like the rest of us. There is no English information on those bills but a barcode. You wonder what to do with them because probably back in your home country, you pay bills differently. The easiest way to pay your bills in Japan is to take them to a convenience store. After scanning the barcode on bills, they accept payment in a breeze. Don't forget the receipt they give you as proof of payment. The other two options are bank transfer (口座振込 - kouza furikami) and automatic payment (口座振替 - kouza furikae). You can wire money to the utility company via an ATM or internet banking if you opt for a bank transfer. If you choose automatic payment, you should fill out an application form and send it to the utility company. Once they process it, they will start withdrawing money from your bank account monthly. Transferring money to Japan is pretty simple.

    Furnishing your apartment

    After renting a comfy house, the next step will be shopping for kitchenware, bathroom essentials, and home decor items as a final touch. Depending on your budget, there are plenty of home and lifestyle stores in Japan. The cheapest, hence the most famous of them, is Daiso. You can find a Daiso store that is just a stone's throw from your house. Another affordable option is 100 Yen Shop. You can find a great range of products in a 100 Yen Shop. If you want your home to look a bit more stylish without breaking the bank, Muji is a great place. They sell quality goods tailored for people seeking simplicity as well as basic furniture. "Japanese IKEA" Nittori is another affordable option for those in need of basic furniture and soft furnishings. 

    Looking for more cheap furniture? Check out, Where to Buy Affordable Furniture and Homeware in Japan

    Convenience stores

    Convenience stores, aka konbini in Japanese, are more than just a supermarket. At convenience stores, you can buy a wide range of things from food to essential clothing. Here is a brief list of the things you can do at a konbini in Japan: 

    • paying your bills, 
    • sending packages, 
    • booking concert, sport, or movie tickets, 
    • making copies, printing & scanning files,
    • charging your transportation card, 
    • withdrawing money
    • using the washroom

    The biggest convenience stores in Japan are 7Eleven, Family Mart, and Lawson. Convenience stores are open 24/7 in Japan. It is almost impossible not to come across a konbini wherever you live. 

    If you want to know more about convenience stores in Japan, there is an article, Japanese convenience stores.

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    Job Hunting in Japan: the guide to moving to Japan

    If you’re interested in teaching English in Japan, you’ve got more than a handful of choices and each has somewhat different requirements. Most major English conversation schools require that you have a bachelor’s degree and a TESOL/TEFL but some smaller schools may be a little more flexible. if you don't know where to start looking for jobs, check out the job boards. Don't forget to participate in job fairs you can get to know many different companies at once.

    If you’re interested in finding a job that isn’t teaching - you’ll likely need, at the least, the JLPT N2. Some companies require you to have taken and passed the exam while others will simply judge you based on your conversational ability and capacity to read/write Japanese. You may even require a Japanese resume for some. If you want to make your job hunting easier, you could hire a job recruiter to help you out.

    If you’re looking for a job in Japan, you can’t go past this article on Job Hunting in Japan.

    Moving to Japan Guide: Learning Japanese

    This is a huge challenge that deserves its own article and a quick Google search will net you more than a few results. To save you some time, here are a couple of your questions answered: 

    How long does it take to learn Japanese? 

    Are online lessons or offline lessons better for me? 

    Should I take group or private lessons? 

    How can I book a consultation and level check with Japan Switch? 

    Depending on how much you know and what your goals are, it’s important to take the time to think carefully before you dive in. If you're wanting to know The top 10 Japanese lessons in Tokyo, check out the article. Are you aspiring to take the JLPT? Do you just want to level up your speaking chops for social occasions and maybe find mister or missus right? Are you learning because you’re a hardcore anime and manga fan and, while you love the idea of actually conversing in Japanese, it’s lower in priority than finally being able to turn off the subs or not have to reach for Google Translate? Make sure you have an idea of what you want to get out of studying Japanese and that clarity will help you stay on track. 

    Get to know more about Japanese courses here

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    Visiting the nearest city hall after moving to Japan guide 

    You have completed almost all of the necessary legal stuff. Congratulations on making your Japan dream real! Now, it is time to move on to more practical things to ease you into your new life. After obtaining your visa and landing in Japan, you're supposed to go to the nearest city to handle the other half of the important legal stuff. Let's take a closer look at them.

    Registering your address

    Visiting the nearest city hall and saying "Hello, I have just moved to this place!" is a must. They probably won't speak much English, but they will be eager to help you register your address and tell you what to do next. By the way, you have to register your presence within 14 days of moving to Japan. You also need to pay a visit to the city hall if you change your address. 

    Enrolling in national health insurance 

    Unless you work full-time and your company enrolls you in social insurance called shakai hoken, you have to enroll in national health insurance in Japan. There is no escaping it since everyone over 20 years old has to be on health insurance. The most basic type of health insurance is national health insurance. It covers 70% of your medical bills. If you are a student, unemployed, or work less than 30 hours a week, this is your option. And you can enroll in national health insurance at the city hall the day you register your address. 

    Final Thoughts

    Moving to Japan isn’t easy but it doesn’t have to be scary. There’s a lot of English support available and it can be really easy to make friends with both locals and other foreigners. Japanese people are interested in you and your background. Other foreigners are often happy to meet like-minded individuals. With our article on moving to Japan AND the right attitude, you’ll be on your feet and deep-diving into Japan’s beautiful culture that doesn’t show up in guidebooks in no time.

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    Our bi-weekly emails for beginners to low intermediate students will give you the tips and motivation to self-study Japanese your way to Japanese fluency.

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