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Where to Study Japanese in Japan

Deciding on where to study in Japan is a difficult decision. Both the big cities and the small towns have their pros and cons.

By 3 min read 18

If you are planning on studying Japanese in Japan in the near future, it is never too early to start thinking about your school options.

If you are already a student in your home country, I would first suggest speaking with your school advisor to see if your school has any partnerships with schools in Japan. Otherwise a great number of Japanese language schools can also be found on the GaijinPot Study page.

One of the first major decisions that you will have to make it whether to live in a big city or a rural small town. To help decide which is most suitable for your needs from your list of options, here are some points worth considering.

Big Cities


Living as a student in a major Japanese city like Tokyo is very exciting and may be a hard offer to pass up. The city holds an endless amount of opportunities for young travelers and students. You are studying in an international environment and get to meet other students from all around the world.

After class you can head out into the city with your new friends and experience Tokyo’s unique blend of traditional culture and modern entertainment. You can find whatever you need in the city, and whatever your hobbies are, you are sure to find a group of friends to enjoy them with.

One downside of living in a big city like Tokyo is that English is more widely spoken. Since you can easily manage your daily life in Tokyo with only a basic level of Japanese, it requires a bit more determination to reach your language goals. Another downside to living in Tokyo or any other major city is the high living cost.

Day to day expenses can really add up and if you’re partying a lot it can really hurt a student budget. The good news for native English speakers is that it is not very difficult to find a part-time jobs as an English teacher.

Living in the Inaka


One of the best things about living in a rural area outside of any major city is it forces you constantly put your Japanese skills to the test. Out here you will encounter far less people that speak any English at all. It may seem inconvenient at first, but the confidence and independence you gain from challenging yourself free you to explore parts of Japan that most students would not.

For this reason, I think that living outside of a major city allows you to experience Japan on a much deeper level. So much of the Japanese culture is wrapped up in the language, and living in a small town allows you to experience a truer sense of Japanese culture. And if you ever feel like visiting a major city, any number of Japan’s affordable transportation options can take to there in a moments notice.

In general, you can save a lot more by living outside any of the major cities. Living expenses are not as high, and schools are more likely to provide affordable accommodations such as dorms and share houses for students.

Where you study really depends on your situation and your priorities. I can’t say that one is better than the other, but they are definitely different experiences. I am grateful for the time I spent outside of the big city, but I am also enjoying my life in Tokyo now.

Wherever you choose to go, just remember to be respectful while in Japan and have a great time.

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  • Anaya says:

    Does anyone know any programs for studying abroad in rural Japan?

  • mabel simeon says:

    what if you want to change your tourist visa to student visa? how was that? and if you graduate for your course can you have a proper visa like working visa?

  • Jack says:

    A useful site for guide to study in Japan

  • Samuel Tootle says:

    Very nice article. I was curious about your and other folks thoughts regarding whether it is necessary to study Japanese before studying it in Japan? Ideally, I would rather live in a small town which I realize would be a big hurdle with knowing little to no Japanese before landing, however, I wonder if it is really necessary to spend a year or more in the states learning Japanese when languages are rarely spoken natively the way they are taught in academia.

    Thank You.

    • Yuuri says:

      I studied Japanese for one year before i went to Japan for the first time when i was 17, but i could barely communicate, knew hardly any kanji and could only string a few simple sentences, so I choose Tokyo since it’s easier if its your first time, and people are used to foreigners so no one stares or anything, and its easier to get help if you need it. But ordering at restaurants was still hard, and the staff at train stations, policemen and shopkeepers don’t really know english. I found it pretty hard, but i learned a lot more in one month in Japan than i did in one year in my country, so i think its best to at least learn the basics, and all the hiragana/ katakana before you go so you’re not totally lost and can ask basic stuff like directions and read menus.

  • Andrew Smith says:

    Thank you! You can enroll in a language school without a bachelor degree. However, if you are planning on working in Tokyo, you will most likely need one. In that case I would recommend you finish your bachelor first then go to a language school in Japan. That way your Japanese will be more fresh when you’re trying to job hunt. There is also Temple University Japan Campus that allows you to basically do both at the same time. That might be something to look into if your really serious about working in Japan in the future.

    • Tim Smet says:

      Thanks for the reply, and the idea is indeed to stay in Japan and work there. So I’ll first get a decent degree.

      Is there an age restriction for the language schools? (I’m not getting any younger haha)

      And the Temple University lets you get a bachelor degree and is a language school?

      I’ll check that out, maybe not a bad idea to combine the two!

  • very good article. I have plan to go to Japanese language school next year. But I cannot decide where should i live. I really want to work in Tokyo, Japan after finish the language school. I really want to go to language school which not so many student from my country. Do you work in Tokyo?

    Actually I really want to go small city so it would be great for my language skill, But after I really want to live and find job in Tokyo. That’s why I really cant decide.

    What would you recommend?

    • Andrew Smith says:

      Thank you for reading! I am working in Tokyo right now, but studied south of Osaka a few years ago. I definitely agree with Anthony’s comment. If you’re planning on staying in Japan and working in Tokyo for a long time, it might be better to study in a place where you can make some connections.

      Good luck!

    • Anthony Joh says:

      If you go to a small town you probably won’t find many other Thai people but in the big city there are lots.

      As you know now it is easier for Thais to get a visa to visit Japan so there are tons of Thais in the big cities now!!

      I would suggest you start with a medium size city, like Fukuoka and then after a year or so see if you want to move to Tokyo.

      โชคดี 😉

      • Thank you so much, you help me a lot. Fukuoka is on my top list to go too. That’s what i really concer, Tokyo got too many Thais.

        PS. Can you speak thai too? 🙂

        • Anthony Joh says:

          If you go to Fukuoka then I recommend this school. It’s one of the best in the city. http://www.f-seikei.com/english/

          ได้นิดหน่อยครับ 55

          • Thank you so much krub. arigatou. Did you go to this school?

            Can I work part time job? like a job in restaurant.

            PS. I think you good in thai too. haha

          • Anthony Joh says:

            You can work up to 28 hours per week on a student visa. Lots of students do work in restaurants. Check with the school and they usually have connections to jobs.

          • Ben Hawkins says:

            Hey Anthony, I was also thinking about studying in Japan in the hopes of finding employment afterwards. I was curious if having a spouse visa will make it easier to get employment over someone with just a student visa?

          • Anthony Joh says:

            Definitely. Because then the company doesn’t have to issue you a visa. If you bring you own you are more likely to get hired.

      • Tim Smet says:

        Interesting article! But what are the expectations for language schools regarding degrees? Do you have to have a bachelor degree? I’m planning to go back to school and get a bachelor. This wil take a couple of years. Is this necessary? Or can you start the language school without it?



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