Ultimate Guide to Japanese Language Schools in Tokyo

This ultimate guide is built for you to help take away the stress and worry of finding the right school for you. Here’s the insider report to finding a Japanese language school in Tokyo that works for you and your study needs

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Guide to Japanese Schools Outline

When it comes to finding a language school in Tokyo it’s highly recommended to go through each section fully. We do not want you to be part of the 25% of westerners who regret attending a full-time Japanese language school. Learn what you need to know to make the right decision before signing any contracts.

Section 1: Is Attending a Japanese Language School Right for You

  • Should I attend a Full-time Japanese Course
  • Should I attend a Part-time Casual Japanese Course
  • Should I attend a Part-time Intensive Japanese Course
  • Should I Self-study Japanese

Section 2: What are your School Options Depending on your Visa

  • Japanese School Options for Tourist Visa Holders 
  • Japanese School Options for Residence Visa Holders
  • How does the Student Visa Process Work

Section 3: Full-time Japanese Schools - What are the requirements?

  • What are the Requirements for Students with a Japan Residence Visa
  • What are the Requirements and Rules for Students who Need a Student Visa

Section 4: Full-Time Japanese Schools - The Admissions Process

  • Information Needed to apply to a Japanese Language School 
  • Steps before Admission
  • Timing of Enrollment
  • Steps Up to Admission

Section 5: What are the Schedules and Classes like at a Full-time Japanese Language School

  • What you’ll Learn at Each Level of Class 
  • Homework
  • Advanced Course Work
  • Example of Semesters
  • Day to Day 
  • What you’ll Learn at Each Level of Coursework 
  • Business Japanese Courses 
  • Deaf Education

Section 6: How Much Will a Full-time Japanese Language School Cost Me?

  • Costs and expenses at a Full-time Japanese Language School (Visa Sponsorship)
  • Costs and Expenses for Housing
  • Costs and Expenses at a Part-time Japanese Language School (No Visa Sponsorship)

Section 8: After Graduation

  • Entrance Exams
  • Recommendation System
  • Jobs
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Is Attending a Japanese Language School Right for You

The simple answer is yes, if you want to come to Japan for more than three months and are from a country that does not have a working holiday program with Japan (ex. Americans). 

The answer is also yes for someone who wants to live in Japan and wants to be able to work in a profession outside of English teaching and programming. There are many places that are now hiring foreigners with a daily conversation N3 level of Japanese, so attending a school for about 1 year full-time is a good way to get your level high enough to find a job.

For those residing in Japan, a Japanese language school could be a great way to start learning Japanese, especially if you have a hard time studying on your own. An intensive one month program could also be a good way to boost your level between jobs.

Choosing the Right School is Hard

The first thing you need to know is that there is no one best Japanese language school. Every language school offers different methods of teaching and coursework and a school that appeals to one person, may not appeal to another. Some schools provide support for job seekers while others focus their curriculum and support for students who want to enter a Japanese university. Other schools provide Japanese speaking courses, while a majority focus purely on reading, writing, and Kanji.

We recommend determining your goals for attending a school and then look for reviews from former students that go into major detail about the school. You should not trust any site with rankings and simply try to understand what type of curriculum the school provides and who are their targets. This ultimate guide to Japanese language schools will cover everything from part-time lessons to full-time intensive courses.

Should I Attend a Full-Time Japanese Course

Time and research have shown that studying full-time is the fastest way to learn the Japanese language. Simply because the more time you invest in your learning, the more your Japanese ability will grow. Enrolling full-time is a serious financial decision and will involve a large amount of dedication. You may not always be able to learn at your own pace and you may need to dedicate more than class hour time to learning the language full time.

Working more than 20 hours a week and studying Japanese is really tough to do and there is a risk of you having to take a course over again because you are not learning fast enough. If you will need to work, we recommend studying as much in advance as possible to make the transition to studying full-time and working.

At the end of the day, the main reason to attend a full-time language school is for the student visa or to learn Japanese as fast as possible. We’ll go into detail about studying Japanese full-time in Japan and provide all the information you need to know to save money, time, and choose the right school down below.

Should I Attend a Part-Time Casual Japanese Course

Attending a part-time casual Japanese language school in Tokyo is a good option for those who want to save money or have time constraints or just want to see what things are like.

Checking out a casual Japanese lesson course is a good option if you are considering taking a full-time or intensive program, but want to understand what a normal Japanese class is like without having to spend a large sum of money up front.

A casual part-time Japanese language school can also be good for someone who has a hard time studying or focusing at home. The school can help you get into a good rhythm for using Japanese on a weekly or even daily basis because when you are spending your own money for the lesson, you are not going to miss the lesson and that is good motivation. Once you got a nice self-study rhythm going on, you can leave the school and go off on your own.

The final reason to consider a casual course is because you are working and you really cannot commit to a 15 hour weekly intensive course, even for one week.

Choosing the right casual Japanese learning course

Here are some key questions to research to make the right decision.

  • Is there an entrance fee?
  • How much are textbook and materials?
  • How many months do you have to pay for in advance?
  • How many lessons can I take in one week?
  • Lesson : Do I have to learn to read and write Kanji?
  • Lesson : How many students are in the class?
  • Lesson : Do I study with the same teacher each week?

Some schools charge an entrance fee from around 10,000 - 30,000 yen, which is somewhat standard when enroll into a membership plan. You should also be aware of facility fees, and lesson material fees. It’s also important to double-check with the school to see how many students there are per group lesson because some schools have classes with 15 - 20, while other offer smaller sizes from 4 to 8 students. You should also find out where the majority of their students come from because it would be tough to make friends as a beginner student with classmates who do not understand English.

Japan Switch in Shinjuku and Gotanda / Shinagawa is a great option

We recommend our partner school Japan Switch because there are no entrance fees, group lesson sizes are 3 to 7 students, and lessons are really affordable. The only downside is that they are only open on weekdays from 9:00 - 1:30 PM and only have lessons for beginner to low-intermediate students. The good news is that they have two locations in Tokyo and are quite popular with foreigners. For those who can't study in the mornings at Japan Switch, we would recommend checking out J's Language School in Ebisu and We Japanese Language School in Shibuya.

Japan Switch Tokyo

  • No entrance or enrollment fees
  • More than 30 - 60% cheaper than other Japanese schools
  • Monthly contracts
  • Conversation and practical use Japanese lessons
  • More than 150 active students in less than 1 year
  • Locations : Shinjuku and Gotanda / Shinagawa
    • Shinjuku Branch : Weekdays 9:30 - 1:30 PM
    • Gotanda Branch : Weekdays 9:00 - 1:00 PM
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Should I Attend a Part-time Intensive Japanese Course

If you have one week or several months to commit to learning Japanese, taking an intensive short-term course is a great option to boost your Japanese in a short-period of time. You can consider a school like Coto Language Academy which offers intensive lessons from periods of one week and up to three months or more. An intensive course, usually involves a commitment of around 15 hours a week and 3 hours of class time each day.

Teachers at intensive short-term language program usually can speak English because these courses are often targeted to students from western countries. We highly recommend a short-term intensive course if you have the time and money, because the classes will force you to spend time learning Japanese each day.

Should I Self-study Japanese

If you want to save money and study Japanese on your own, check out our definitive guide on how to self study Japanese. However, in order to self-study efficiently you would need to study a couple hours a day to make improvements. Remember that learning Japanese is not a sprint but a marathon. Consistent study of several hours a day over multiple years is the only way to learn Japanese until some matrix-like invention allows us to download language abilities.

If you are struggling to develop a self-study routine and need to take lessons to help you get started, we recommend taking lessons with at our sister company Japan Switch. Their system are monthly contracts and no entrance fees, so you can take one lesson a week and try it out for one to two months. This can help force you to use Japanese and once you get your self-study routine rolling, you can leave the school and rock out!

However, you need to know that only taking one hour of lessons a week and not doing any homework will not lead to progress.

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What are your School Options Depending on your Visa

Japanese School Options for Tourist Visa Holders

If you plan on coming on a tourist visa you’ll need to attend a part-time Japanese language school or attend an intensive short-term program at a full-time Japanese language school. There are quite a few Japanese language schools in Tokyo that accept tourists for a short-term casual or intensive Japanese language course. Here are some of the places we shared.

  1. Japan Switch
  2. Coto Language Academy
  3. We Japanese Language School
  4. This Japanese Language School
  5. J's Japanese Language School

Japanese School Options for Visa Seekers

Most people have only one option to be honest, unless you can obtain another visa like a working holiday visa or spousal visa, etc. If you want to stay more than past three months, you would need to attend a full-time Japanese language school and enroll for a minimum of six months in order to receive a Japanese student visa. This will cost you around $3000 - $4000 dollars in lesson tuition and $500 - 1000 dollars in enrollment fees and other expenses.

Note : You could stay in Japan longer than three months if you use the tourist visa multiple times as well, but please note there is a limit and overdoing it could result in you being denied entry into Japan.

How does the Student Visa Process Work

To start, you need to apply to the school and pay in advance for a minimum of six months of tuition before you even start the visa process. Alternatively, you can enroll and pay in advance for 18 to 24 months in advance and receive a tiny discount on your tuition.

Getting your Japan Student Visa

The first step is to find a licensed and authorized school. You’ll need to pay for a minimum of six months' tuition in advance. Next, the school will send an application and additional paperwork needed to give to the Japanese immigration authorities to get you a student visa to come to Tokyo. Once that process is completed and you receive all the paperwork, you need to go to the nearest Japanese embassy and submit the documents to get your student visa. Then you can start your big adventure to Japan.

You will receive a 6 month to 24 month visa to stay in Japan depending on the school and how long you paid for in advance. Some people receive 12 - 24-month visas even though they only paid for 6 months, while others who paid for 24 months will sometimes have to renew their Japanese student visa after 12 months.

If you receive a visa longer than what you paid for and decide to quit after the term you paid for is over, the school can inform immigration that you are no longer a student and the government may require you to leave the country. The opposite is also true, if you paid for a term longer than your student visa, you and the school will apply to renew the visa around two months (the maximum) before the expiration of your current visa. The visa renewal process is much easier and faster than obtaining the initial visa. Just make sure your lesson attendance is good because that could affect your visa renewal status.

In summary, the minimum period of study at a Japanese language school in Tokyo and in Japan is for six months for students on a student visa. However, be aware that not all Japanese schools are licensed schools and only licensed schools can sponsor visas. You can check if your school is a licensed school or not in Japan here:

https://www.nisshinkyo.org/search/index_e.html

Maximum Student Visa Term

The maximum length you can attend a Japanese language school is 2 years. This is a visa issue and not a school issue, so changing Japanese language schools would not work towards extending your visa. However, you want to stay longer and want more education, you could enroll in a university or trade school. I am not sure the exact reason, but one is that it should only take 2 years to be at business or university Japanese level, and the second is to prevent visa hunters for overstaying.

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What are the Requirements for Attending a Full-time Japanese Schools

What are the Requirements for Current Japan Visa Holders

If you currently have a residence visa that allows you to stay in Japan, you don’t need to pay for six months (two terms) in advance and many schools will allow you to enroll for one term which is 3 months long because you do not need a visa. Another awesome benefit of having a residence visa is that you do not need to meet the strict Japanese lesson attendance numbers, which are over 70 - 80% to maintain a student visa.

What are the Requirements for Student Visa Seekrs

First and foremost, you need to pay for your lessons. In addition to that, you would need to prove that you or someone else has the funds to support you as a student. This is determined by showing that you have a minimum amount of income in a bank account. We believe the number is around 500,000 yen or more outside of tuition payments.

Another minimum requirement for student visa holders is that you have to attend over 70 - 80% of classes. Different schools have differing numbers for the minimum class attendance, but there is a legal minimum in order to maintain your student visa. If your attendance falls under this minimum, your Japanese language school will not renew your student visa.

The Lesson Attendance Rule is Serious

Be cautious with meeting the attendance requirements because you cannot change Japanese language schools if your attendance is low. This applies even if you strongly dislike your current Japanese language school. What will happen is that your new potential school will request your attendance records from your original Japanese language school and based off your records, accept or deny you depending on if you met their attendance requirements in the previous school. Even if you stop attending your current lessons while looking for a new school, your current school attendance still matters. Unfortunately, if decide to stop going to lessons because you are searching for another school, you can be denied entry to the new school due to poor attendance at the current school

The reason these rules are a requirement from Immigration is because your purpose for coming to Japan on a student visa is to study. It’s important to find a good school because if you’re working full-time instead of learning or your school continually violates immigration requirements for student management, they could have their ability to sponsor a student visa revoked. The rules are also stricter if you are working over the 28-hour limit or, doing night work like bartending and hosting.

Here is a link to a well-known Japanese school in Tokyo that gives some examples of the types of school rules you will encounter for attendance.

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The Admissions Process to Japanese Language Schools

Information Needed to Apply to a Japanese Language School

In order to do a long term study course (6 months-2 years) you must acquire a student visa. To acquire a student visa, you will have to do a lot of paperwork with the school and Japanese immigration and the consulate in your home country. These examples were referenced from Tokyo Central Japanese Language School and Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute.

An example of information required from the student to apply to a school can be seen here. These requirements are from the Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute web page. Please note that these documents don’t need to be translated into Japanese.

  • School application
  • Personal history
  • Statement of purpose to study abroad
  • Statement of relatives and their health
  • 4 photos(h4cm×w3cm, taken within the last 6 months)
  • Last diploma copy (original documents may be required)
  • Last academic transcript copy
  • Certificate of Japanese learning (optional)
  • Copy of passport
  • Health certificate
  • Health check (varies from school to school)

Documents that will be prepared by your financial sponsor:

A financial sponsor is usually a family member or spouse who can support you financially while you study if you are unable to support yourself.

  • Statement of financial support
  • Certificate of employment
  • Proof of income
  • Bank certificate of deposit
  • Copy of bankbook
  • Copy of identification
  • Family credentials
  • Written oath (optional)

Steps Before Admission

The admissions process varies depending if you need a student visa or not.

Student Visa Process

You would normally need to submit an application around 4 to 5 months before your expected enrollment date. I am not sure if any places would do 3 months in advance, but that would be risky if any potential visa issues arose. Your tuition fee would be refunded if your certificate of eligibility or visa was denied, but you would not have your application or enrollment fee refunded.

The first step of the enrollment process is the same as described above where you make an application to the school. Once all of those details are organized, you will receive a certificate of eligibility and with that certificate you would apply for a visa at the Japanese embassy in your home country.

Please note that almost all Japanese language schools want to do the entire enrollment process online. If you need a Japanese student visa, they most likely will not accept walk-in appointments because you need to do the visa process in your home country, or doing the visa process in your home country is much easier than doing it in Japan. If you wanted to check out the school, you could probably go there and look around while you are in Japan, but they probably will not have specialty sales staff to guide you nor allow you take a trial lesson. However, if you are here already, it may be worth asking!

Enrollment Process for Foreign Residents in Japan

For someone with a valid Japan residence visa, they will have one staff available who can help you with the enrollment process in person and do a level check for you. I was able to enroll into a Japanese language school program several weeks before lessons started. The process is much simpler in that all you need to do is fill in the application and pay the money in advance, you did not need a sponsor or anything else. The whole process took around 1 - 2 hours to complete.

Timing of Enrollment

The key point for a full time Japanese language school is the timing of enrollment. You cannot join a class mid-term and would have to wait for the next term to enroll. The main reason for this is that they want to make sure all the students are the same Japanese level and are on the same page. Additionally, the visa process can be unpredictable and even if you wanted to join mid-term, you could miss the whole term if you had any visa issues.

Application Document Deadline End of October of the Preceding Year
Issuance of Certificate of Eligibility End of February
Visa Application Early March
Application Document Deadline Mid-February
Issuance of Certificate of Eligibility Mid-May
Visa Application Early June
Application Document Deadline Early May
Issuance of Certificate of Eligibility End of August
Visa Application Early September
Application Document Deadline Mid-August of Preceding Year
Issuance of Certificate of Eligibility Mid-November
Visa Application Early December

Steps Up to Admission

Step 1 Consultation
Step 2 Placement test
Step 3 Application and payment of tuition fees
Step 4 Receipt of Certificate of Eligibility
Step 5 Application for student visa at Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country
Step 6 Arrival in Japan and begin classes
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What are the Schedules and Classes like at a Full-time Japanese Language School

What you’ll Learn at Each Level of Class

Schedules vary from school to school, so you should choose how you want to plan your time in Japan. If you wanted to spend your time more focused on exploring, it’s better to find a   Japanese language school or a casual full-time school. If your main focus is learning Japanese, the best option may be a more intensive program.

Typical Lesson Format and Content for Beginner Students.

Basic Format: In Japanese language schools the teachers move between classes while the students stay in the same class. Each day of the week you'll typically have a different teacher for about 3.5 hours total of class time with 10-minute breaks every 50 minutes.

Your First Day: Before you start you’ll probably have a self-introduction with the class before you move into the lesson.

Lesson Focuses: Beginners learn 3 new kanji per day. Intermediates learn 6 new kanji per day. Beginners tend to write the kanji 10 times and learn 3-5 words associated with that kanji. Each new word is stated by the teacher and students are asked to repeat the word verbally. The new kanji are tested the day after they’re taught.

Generally, the tests are a sheet with hiragana and kanji, words written in hiragana must be rewritten in kanji and words written in kanji must be rewritten in hiragana. Then around 2 weeks after learning the kanji, a large kanji test is given. 

Beginners generally spend the full 2 hours studying grammar and sentence patterns. Alongside studying grammar beginners practice speaking by partnering together and running through a speaking exercise using the grammar they just learned.

Beginners will spend time with listening practice and an occasional reading-only exercise. Listening exercises for beginners involve listening to a short dialog and then answering some true or false questions. The teacher will ask students to read a sentence from the test and repeat it so students end up reading the same dialog around 3-4 times.

Homework

Beginners will be asked to do kanji homework every night as well as any associated sentence pattern homework for the day. To maximize your success at a Japanese language school you’d probably need to study around 1-2 hours a night. Beginning students usually do a worksheet every night. Here are some articles we have created to help you practice each aspect of the Japanese language; Kanji, Reading, Conversation, Listening, Vocabulary.

Here's some apps that could be beneficial to your studying:

  • Memrise - Language app
  • Anki - Mobile flashcards
  • Quizlet - Create your flashcards and use others, learn the language through games

Advance Course Homework

We interviewed a friend who took an advance course at a Japanese language school in Tokyo, he mentioned that it took him around 9 months to jump from an N2 level of Japanese to an N1 level. He studied around four hours of Japanese everyday in addition to taking 4 hour of lessons a day because that was the only way he could keep up with his Korean and Chinese classmates.

Advanced course work

The course work for an advance student changes based on the season of the year. The three months before the JLPT test are often purely dedicated to test preparation. The rest of the year would focus a lot on discussions, reading, and learning useful Japanese expressions.

During JLPT preparation season, between September and November, all your classes would be focused on preparing you for the four sections of the test. You would have four classes a day and each hour is focused on a different section. You would take a vocabulary / kanji course, listening course, reading course, and grammar course. You will also spend several days taking mock exams using previous year tests to simulate the actual test taking experience.

During non-JLPT test preparation season, you will have a more well-rounded and practical Japanese education. For the school he attended, the school gave written assignments several times a week where you would have to write about half a page to one page on a topic. Other assignments involved reading a 3 to 4 page story in Japanese that used many natural expressions for both written and spoken Japanese. The story would focus on Japanese culture and current issues to help you understand Japanese culture better. The teacher would help you practice pronunciation by making students read the text and students could ask questions related to the story.

Tips for keeping up with Chinese and Korean classmates

You cannot keep up with these classmates if you were to dedicate the same amount of hours into studying. Chinese can read Kanji and out read you in the reading sections and the Koreans will outclass you on everything except Kanji, even the not so smart ones.

The person we interviewed mentioned that westerners need to spend around 90 minutes more a day than Chinese classmates because they did not need to learn Kanji. You would probably need to be a natural for learning language or spend more than 3 additional hours a day to keep up with Korean classmates! He also mentioned that he used to type his written assignments to save time and to use the same time cramming vocabulary and grammar.

He also mentioned that you would have to study and review the reading section in the text for class discussions in advance because you probably cannot read the text as quickly as Chinese or Korean classmates. The teacher will give you a set amount of time and your Korean and Chinese classmates will be ready to go before the time is up. You on the other hand will probably want an extension of time!

Example of Semesters

Here’s an example of a typical Japanese Language school year provided by, Kai Japanese Language School.

Winter Term - January 16 to March 27

Spring Term - April 5 to June 21

Summer Term - July 1 to October 2 

Autumn Term - October 10 to December 20

Summer Break - August 3 to August 25

Semester lengths and breaks change from school to school, but this is a basic outline to help you get familiar with the time constraints of Japanese language schools.

Day to Day

At language schools, you typically have two options for either a morning class or an afternoon class depending on the size of the school. Sometimes you may not get to choose. For a typical   Japanese language school, you attend five days a week for three to four hours, which ends up being around 15-20 hours a week.

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What you’ll Learn at Each Level of Coursework

As you progress, the level you’re learning at will change and so will the coursework. These examples are provided by Kumon Japanese Language Program.

Beginner

At this level, you start to understand and use everyday familiar expressions and phrases. As well as be able to introduce yourself to others and answer personal questions. You have the capability to interact in a simple way if the other person talks slowly and is willing to help.

Number of Kanji you’ll Learn 428 Kanji
Number of Words you’ll Learn 415 Words
Sentence Length 900 Characters
Intermediate

At an intermediate level, you're able to understand the main points on the matter that you will regularly come across at work, school and other places. You're capable of understanding most situations. You have the ability to produce simple connected text on familiar topics, personal interest and can describe experiences, events, dreams and give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

Number of Kanji you’ll Learn 668 Kanji
Number of Words you’ll Learn 3,375 Words
Sentence Length 1,300 Characters
Advanced

At an advanced level, you can understand longer and demanding text. As well as, ideas on a certain topic without searching for expressions; use the language in both social, academic and professional areas; produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects.

Number of Kanji you’ll Learn 1,000 Kanji
Number of Words you’ll Learn 6,380 Words
Sentence Length 6,000 Characters

Business Japanese Courses

Coto Japanese Academy offers a specialty two-month business Japanese course to improve your career options and help you reach Japanese business fluency.

Students start by learning the basics of Keigo and other phrases that are commonly used in the workplace. They also cover email communication, like making an inquiry using different contexts. They teach how to properly explain differences in subjects by learning key sentences, vocabulary and case studies. Coto Academy developed an original training method where the classes are focused on particular work-related conversations and offers real-life scenarios that students can use to develop their real-time skills.

Deaf Education

Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute has a Deaf Education Program.

In addition to teaching international students in Tokyo, Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute developed a deaf education program, their goal is to contribute to the development of deaf education in Japan.

Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute uses the Ezoe Method to help teach their deaf students. This method has been proven to be very effective for deaf students, and often attracts the attention of professors who study deaf education because of its proven effectiveness.

The Ezoe Teaching Method is used by emphasizing Japanese particles and visualizes grammar using pictures and diagrams. The Ezoe Teaching Method uses jyubako cards, colored particles and "visualized grammar." The Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute has published textbooks

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How Much will a Full-time Japanese Language School Cost Me?

First Year Fees

Attending a full-time Japanese language school in Tokyo is a big investment and here is a breakdown of the expenses of what an average full-time school will charge. The school you decide on may charge more or less for individual areas.

This information is provided by Akamonkai Japanese Language School. All prices are the same until you begin your second year of schooling. Textbook fees are included in the price.

Screening Fee ¥20,000 or $184.60
Enrollment Fee ¥48,000 or $443.04
Class Fee ¥640,000 or $5,907.20
Facility Fee ¥40,000 or $369.30
Subtotal ¥748,000 or $6,904.04

If you choose to stay at a language school for 2 years the cost will be the same as one year depending on which school you're attending. In some circumstances, it may become cheaper.

Application Fee ¥21,668 or $200
Entrance Fee ¥54,171 or $500
Textbook Fee ¥6,500 or $60
Lesson Fee Per Term ¥151,679 X 2 or $1,400 X 2
Total ¥736,728 or $6,800

Application fee: 

You must pay an application fee of around 20,000 – 35,000 yen just to apply to a school. This amount is non-refundable regardless if you get the student visa or not.

Entrance fees: 

You must pay an additional cost of around 50,000 – 100,000 yen in the form of an entrance fee to enter a school. These fees come in the form of an entrance or registration fee, facility fee, and student insurance.

Textbook fees:

You normally have to pay around 6,000 - 12,000 yen in textbook fees for every two quarters. These materials come in the form of textbooks, test preparation textbooks, and vocabulary and kanji textbooks

Lesson fees: 

A school year is separated into 4 quarters and you would pay between 140,000 yen – 200,000 yen for each quarter depending on the school. You would be studying 5 days a week and 3 or 4 hours a day. Schools that charge higher lesson fees usually have more veteran teachers, somewhat smaller class sizes or a good reputation that justifies the higher tuition fees.

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Costs and Expenses for Housing

Some Japanese language schools offer housing options such as dorms. And some Japanese language schools you’ll need to find your own housing. Here we’ll differentiate the pros and cons of these options.

Cheap Strict rules Option to Live Alone Can be Expensive
Integrated Experience Communal Appliances Individual Appliances Harder to Make Friends
Close to School Lack of Personal Space Get to Experience the Japanese Subway Culture Commute
Security Noise Problems Gain Independence Depending on Where you Live May Not be as Secure
Less Chores Keeping Personal Space Clean for Others Set up your Space the Way you Want More Space to Clean
How Much does an Apartment Cost

There are several types of housing available for foreigners. As mentioned, some Japanese language schools provide an apartment to stay in a building they own or have an agreement with the owner. Other options include finding an apartment on your own or living together with other people in a shared house or renting a private room in a shared house. Based on the size of the room, amenities provided, and location, the prices can change drastically.

This article will focus on living conditions for your average student with a budget of around 400 dollars - 1000 dollars a month for an apartment. They are apartments more than 1500 dollars a month, but this article will not focus on that. However, if you are looking for some higher price locations in Japan, I would recommend the site Tokyo Apartments.

My Budget is Around 300 - 400 Dollars a Month

Your best option for an apartment would be to go to a share house and share a room with another person. That is the only way you would be able to find something at that price range in Tokyo. If you go for something at the 250 - 300 dollar range, expect somewhat of a commute if you are studying in central Tokyo and you may end up spending more money if you add transportation costs. Check out Tokyo Share House for some of the cheapest options.

For those who are super lucky, you might be able to organize a group of friends or have people invite you to live in a house. If the house costs around 1250 dollars a month to rent, you could spend around 300 dollars a month and have your own private room. You might need to check craigslist Tokyo for this.

My Budget is Around 500 - 600 Dollars a Month

Your best option for an apartment would still be a sharehouse, but getting a smaller room that may not have a shower included. Not having a shower can suck, but the good news is that they do have a shower room like a university dorm or a shared shower. You would need to take a shower out of your own place of residence. The cool thing about shared houses is that if you choose a place like Oakhouse which provides enormous residences of over 50 people, some of them have karaoke rooms, movie rooms with projectors, ovens, and other cool amenities.

Your other option would be to live around 40 minutes from central Tokyo or Osaka and have your own private place. The good news is that for 600 dollars a month, you can actually get a two-room or larger apartment if you live on a train line that connects to a central location like Shinjuku but is around 30 minutes or more away.

Most Japanese language schools in Tokyo provide a dormitory around the 500 - 700 dollar a month range.

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My Budget is Around 600 Dollars to 1000 Dollars

You have a lot more flexibility in your options of where to stay in a big city. You could choose a tiny apartment in a super central location or a big apartment 30 to 45 minutes outside. You can also get a nice sized apartment in a shared house if you are looking for a community.

Should I Stay in a Shared House

I would recommend staying in a shared house if you are looking for a community and people to intermingle with. It would be going for someone who is introverted but would feel lonely living on their own. The shared house would give you a nice foundation and you could meet other students who are attending a Japanese language school. Ironically, most people I know who change Japanese schools usually live in shared houses and they compare information about their schools.

I would also recommend staying in a shared house if you are not sure you will live in Japan for more than 6 months or even 1 year. The main reason for this is that the initial costs are much lower and you do not need to buy appliances and furniture, they also have internet and provide basically everything else you need except a smartphone from day one.

Should I Stay in a Private Apartment

If being around other people and having to greet them every day or having other people seeing you coming in and out would drive you crazy, I would recommend a private apartment. Those are some of the complaints that people who have a private room in a shared apartment mention. Other complaints include having to share the microwave and refrigerator and sometimes having to wait in line to use the appliances.

The major downside of living in a private apartment is the cost. Outside of paying the rent, you normally have to pay 

  • 1-month rent for gift money to the landlord - does not come back
  • 1 to 2 months rent for deposit - sometimes it comes 
  • 1-month rent to the real estate agent for the introduction
  • 1-month initial rent
  • 9000 yen a year for fire insurance
  • 23000 yen to change the keys

Depending on the apartment, you may be spending 2000 - 2500 dollars a month just to move into an apartment that rents at 500 monthly, and spend an additional 400 dollars - 1500 dollars for furniture, utensils, and appliances as most apartments are not furnished. My recommendation is to find a furnished apartment and apartments that do not require the gift money. Check out KIMI WILL be apartment services for apartments with low moving costs. This guide has more information on the terminology in Japanese that you need to be aware of for renting an apartment.

Should I Stay in an Apartment or Dorm Provided by the School

I would say yes if you want the conveniences of a private apartment without having the enormous move-in costs mentioned above. The school normally rents it out to incoming students, so you probably would not have to pay the gift money or some of the other fees. The other good that is that it would be somewhat furnished as it would be more expensive to throw things away than leave them in the apartment for the next person.

Costs and Expenses at a Part-time Japanese Language School (No Visa Sponsorship)

Attending a part-time Japanese language school in Tokyo is a great way to learn Japanese with greater freedom to see the city. Here is a breakdown of the expenses of what an average part-time school will charge.

Japan Switch

If you’re looking for a more casual (and cheaper) language school that you can study without a student visa Japan Switch is a wonderful option. Japan Switch is a more relaxed option if you’d prefer a causal study experience in Japan. Residents are foreigners alike have the option to study here. 

They have group and private lessons are well as a superb course if you’d like to quickly improve your Japanese and study more. Japan Switch has no registration fees or contract cancellations fees. Another benefit is they have free makeup classes for group lessons and you can set up a monthly contract and choose when you want to study and commit to it for the month, or pay in advance for classes, the longer you pay for in advance the cheaper the lessons become.

Here is an example of Japan Switches group study schedule and expenses. Since Japan Switch really works with their students to set up their times and lessons the prices may change and this is the simplest version of the schedule and expenses.

  • 2 Locations in Tokyo: Gotanda/Shinagawa branch & Shinjuku branch
  • No Enrollment or Hidden Fees: no entrance fees or contract cancellation fees
  • Quality Textbooks & Certified Teachers: developed by Coto Language Academy, all teachers have passed their first level of teacher training in Tokyo
  • Monthly Contracts: Ability to stop schooling for a break and come back later, increase or decrease lessons
japanswitchprice
One 50 Minute Lesson ¥1,500 + sales tax or $13.85
Cost of One Private Lessons ¥3,000 + sales tax or $27.64
8 Lessons for the Month ¥12,000 or $110.76
Coto Language Academy

There’s a one-time registration fee of ¥10,000. Material costs are extra.

8 ¥20,800 or $191.98
16 ¥40,000 or $369.20
32 ¥76,800 or $708.86
48 ¥110,400 or $1018.99
96 ¥211,100 or $1,944.23
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Scholarships for Japanese Language School Students

The information for these scholarships is provided by Shinjuku Japanese Language Institute.

Independent Administrative Institution Japan Student Services Organization Application Period: April /Monthly Sum: ¥48,000 Requirements: Must hold a student visa /Must maintain 100% attendance /Must continue studies at SNG until end of March the following year
Takayama International Education Foundation (for Asian students only) Application Period: January Monthly /Sum: ¥50,000 Requirements: Must hold a student visa /Must maintain 100% attendance /Must study at SNG for over a year /Must continue on to university
Kyoritsu International Foundation (for Asians students only) Application Period: April /Monthly Sum: ¥60,000 Requirements: Must hold a student visa /Must maintain 100% attendance /Must study at SNG for over a year

The information for these scholarships is provided by Tokyo Galaxy Japanese Language School.

Tokyo Galaxy Scholarship Must graduate from Tokyo Galaxy /Attend Tokyo Galaxy for more than a year’s term /4 students annual recipients Awarded ¥100,000 /Evaluation based on: Grades, In-class performance, Essay
Honors Scholarship for Privately Financed International Student Awarded while attended Tokyo Galaxy /Attendance must be over 90% /Monthly stipend of ¥48,000 /Evaluation based on: Attendance, Grades, In-class performance, Essay
Honors Scholarship for Privately Financed International Student Reservation Program Must go to University after /High grade on the Examination for Japanese University /Admission for International Students /Monthly stipend of ¥48,000 /Head of school’s nomination /Evaluation based on: Attendance, Grades, In-class performance, Essay
LSH Asia Scholarship Awarded in October /1 recipient, chosen by school/ ¥100,000
japaneselanguageschool14

After Graduation

Once you’ve graduated from your language school and you’re aiming to pursue your Japanese education there are lots of paths to follow! You could apply to your choice of graduate school, undergraduate school, or a vocational school.

Entrance Exams

In Japan, the academic year begins in April and ends in March. Students generally enroll in April, however, some universities allow entry in October.  Japanese universities require an entrance examination for privately financed foreign students. Here are some of the requirements for general eligibility for an undergraduate degree program for international students:

  • Completed 12 years of school education in your home country. Your transcript is required
  • No immigration issues that interfere with your entry into Japan or with your study in Japanese university
  • Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU) 

EJU

The EJU is a part of the entrance examination for international students who wish to study at universities or higher educational institutions in Japan. This exam is held in Japan twice annually in June and November. It’s held in about 17 cities outside Japan, mainly in Asia. The examination topics are Japanese as a Foreign Language, Science, Japan, and the World, and Mathematics. Questions are available in Japanese and English.

Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) 

The Japanese-Language Proficiency Test is a standardized criterion-referenced test to evaluate and certify Japanese language proficiency for non-native speakers, covering language knowledge, reading ability, and listening ability. The tests are generally held in July and December. The test dates in 2019 are July 7 and December 1.

The JLPT has five levels: N1, N2, N3, N4, and N5. The easiest level is N5 and the most difficult level is N1. N4 and N5 measure the level of understanding of basic Japanese learned in class. N1and N2 measure the level of understanding of Japanese used in a broad range of scenes in actual everyday life. The test usually measures skills through testing reading and writing comprehension.

Recommendation System

The recommendation system is used by Japanese language schools is a system of a designated school recommendation for a good student who’s attendance rate was over 90% and the student is diligent. If a student receives a letter of recommendation from their school entrance examination can become significantly easier. Be sure to inquire at your school about their recommendation system.

Examples of Universities
The University of Tokyo Waseda University
Hitotsubashi University Keio University
Tokyo Metropolitan University Meiji University
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies Doshisha University
University of Tsukuba Waseda University
Hitotsubashi University Keio University
Tokyo Metropolitan University Meiji University
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies Sophia University
Examples of Vocational Schools

There are many different types of vocational schools so do some research and you’ll find a school with your passion!

oce

Jobs

Students in Tokyo can only work 28 hours a week, it’s not possible to work a full-time job.

Some great examples of part-time jobs are: Working more than 28 hours is a violation of your work permit and could cause you to lose your student visa. 

In order to work in Japan you a designated stamp on your foreign residence card or zairyu card that. If you don’t have this stamp you will have to go back to immigration to get the stamp that grants you permission to work as a student. Without this stamp, it is technically illegal for you to work and companies cannot hire you.

One Coin English

If you’re interested in using your Japanese language in the workforce, a great option is becoming an English teacher for Japanese students. One Coin’s mission as a company is to increase the number of bilingual speakers in Japan. They teach through lesson plans, games, flashcards and support materials. Teachers at One Coin English get to learn Japanese at a lower rate! One Coin English has teachers from over 20 countries and 5 continents. They have 9 schools, 8 in Tokyo and one in Yokohama. They include paid 12-hour training for new teachers and cover travel costs. 

Requirements to work at One Coin English:

  • Valid work visa or permission to work
  • Available to work a minimum of 15 weeks
  • Available to work a minimum of 9 months
  • Desire to help students improve their English
  • Enjoy speaking with people
  • Salary is 1,200-1,5050 Yen an hour

Legoland Japan Playmaker

If you’re looking for an amusement park job, Legoland Discovery Center Playmaker. The Legoland Japan team hires foreigners to work in the Japan Resort theme park in Nagoya, or the Lego discovery centers in Osaka and Tokyo.

Typical Salary: ¥1,300 an hour

Restaurant Positions

A better way to interact with the local people and serve them food. Many restaurants are searching for employees to help them manage their restaurants. This is the most common part-time job in Tokyo and you could work for almost any restaurant. Part-time jobs in Tokyo that involves dealing with Japanese customers in the food business will require daily conversational skills of Japanese.

Typical Salary: ¥900 - ¥1100 an hour

 Bars

When you work in a bar, you get to communicate with the customers, observe the bar life, and meet new people every shift. This is a perfect job for anyone that does not mind being in a loud and fast-paced environment. Working as a bartender in a host club or hostess club, or any other red-light district types of businesses are not allowed for those on a student visa or working holiday visa.

Typical Salary:

¥1100 - ¥1300 an hour 

Interpreter and Translator

After graduating from a language school becoming an interpreter or translator will not be difficult. Both the Japanese enterprise and foreign enterprise should understand each other and your priority is to make sure that the conversation goes smoothly.

Typical Salary: ¥1,500 - ¥3,100 an hour

Requirements: Valid visa and N2 Japanese 

For more information check out our article on 15 Part-Time Jobs in Tokyo for Foreigners.

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Common Misconceptions about Japanese Language Schools

You need a student visa to study at a Japanese language school You only need a visa for a long-term study period, which is 3 or more months
Only kids can become fully bilingual Adult language learners can become native-like speakers of their target language too
Japanese language school teachers are strict and mean Many Japanese teachers are wonderful, patient and very kind to their students
Japanese is the hardest language to learn Depending on your native language Japanese may be harder to pick up, but if you care about learning the language you can stick with it and see it through
You won’t need to do homework Homework is very real at a Japanese language school
Japanese language schools will only teach me to speak Depending on which school you visit you’ll most likely be doing University entry test prep
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