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.
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.