Study in Japan for Free with Japanese Scholarships


Can’t afford to study abroad in Japan? Scholarships exist for a reason. There are many scholarships for international students to study in Japan, some of which allow you to study in Japan for free. But where to find them and how to apply?

In this article, we will introduce the concept of Japanese scholarships, types of available scholarships, and how to find scholarships in Japan. There are also scholarships for Japanese language courses. 

Table of Contents

  1. Japan Scholarships for Locals, PRs and Their Families, and etc. 
  2. Study in Japan Scholarships for International Students
    1. Japan Scholarship Providers
    2. Types of Scholarships for International Students
  3. Finding “Study in Japan Scholarships” for International Students
    1. [MUST READ] Scholarship Guidelines
    2. Number of Japanese Local Governments / Related International Exchange Organisations Scholarships
    3. School-Specific Scholarships
  4. Scholarships for Studying Japanese in Japan
    1. Japanese Language Educational Institutions (日本語教育機関) Scholarships
    2. Special Course for International Students (留学生別科) Scholarships
  5. To Summarize

Japan Scholarships for Locals, Permanent Residents and Their Families, and etc. 

There are 2 main categories of scholarships in Japan, they are: 

  • Scholarship Loan (貸与奨学金 taiyo shougakukin): Student loans that must be repaid (reimbursed) is called “scholarship loan” in Japan. “Scholarship loans” are further divided into interest-free scholarship loans and scholarship loans with interest.

  • Beneficiary Scholarship (給付奨学金 kyuufu shougakukin): A scholarship that does not need to be repaid and is typically provided by the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO). 

However, JASSO's scholarship loans and beneficiary scholarships are only eligible for Japanese students. Foreigners cannot apply whilst carrying a status of residence such as “family stay (家族滞在)” or “student (留学)”. 

You can only apply for these scholarships if you have a status of residence such as a “special permanent resident (特別永住者)”, “permanent resident (永住者)”, “long term resident (定住者)”, ”spouse or child of Japanese national (日本人配偶者等)”, and “spouse or child of permanent resident (永住者配偶者等)”

For international students, we will introduce “Study in Japan Scholarships「日本留学奨学金」”below. 

Study in Japan Scholarships for International Students

First things first, it is important to get a basic understanding of how scholarships in Japan work, especially since there are so many types, some of which are not available for international students. When doing your research, check official websites like the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO). 

There’s a lot of information to cover, so read carefully as if you’ve begun your studies. It would be bad if your study abroad in Japan plans were centred around a scholarship that you cannot apply for, like the ones we introduced above: JASSO’s “scholarship loans” and “beneficiary scholarships”. Therefore, when checking scholarship information, carefully check the application qualifications, especially the “nationality (status of residence)” section and whether repayment is required.

For example, JASSO’s website has separate pages for “Scholarship Programmes for Japanese Students” and “Support Programmes for International Students: Scholarships for Study in Japan”. 

Japan Scholarship Providers

Scholarships to study in Japan are usually provided by: 

  • Japan Government, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) 

  • Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO)

  • Local Governments and Related International Exchange Organizations

  • NGO / Private Scholarship Organizations

  • School (school you are attending)

Most of the scholarships are “After Arrival Scholarships” which you apply for after going to Japan, but depending on the scholarship and organisation, it may be a “Before Arrival Scholarship” which you need to apply for before going to Japan. Once again, it is very important to check the details, especially application procedure. 

Types of Scholarships for International Students in Japan

Here we provide a breakdown of some of the available scholarships offered by the above scholarship providers including application period (before/after arrival), and scholarship features.

Scholarships for International Students
in Japan Provider


When to Apply
(before/after arrival)

Japanese Government

・Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship

Recommended to apply through university or embassy.

・Before arrival

・When certain conditions are met,
after arrival applications may be possible

Japan Student Services Organization

・Monbukagakusho Honors Scholarship for
Privately-Financed International Students

・Before arrival (for some schools, reservation
possible for students with excellent EJU results)

・After arrival (apply through university)

・Student Exchange Support
(Acceptance Agreement)

ScholarshipBefore arrival
(following student exchange agreement)

Local Governments /
Related International
Exchange Organizations

For students who live in the municipality
or attend a school in the municipality

・Before arrival (few available)

・After arrival in general

Private Scholarship Organizations

・Reflects the goals of the company/organisation. 

・Specific study major related to organisation

・Available to local students, exchange students

・Before/After (check individually beforehand)

・More available after arrival 

Currently Attending School

・For enrolled students. 

・Scholarships or tuition waiver systems. 

・Before/After (check with individual schools)

Finding Study in Japan Scholarships for International Students

[MUST READ] JASSO’s Study in Japan Scholarship for International Students in Japan Pamphlet

On JASSO’s Study in Japan website, there is a page dedicated to “Scholarships in Japan” which is a great read. A helpful “Scholarship for International Students in Japan” pamphlet is also available. We recommend going through the whole thing as it explains the entire scholarship process in detail as well as introduces scholarships (in full detail) offered by various organisations. 

  • Where do I inquire / apply for each scholarship?

  • What are the eligibility requirements? (age / country / school / field of study)

  • Can I receive / stack multiple scholarships?

  • Can I apply with a non-student status of residence/visa?

  • How much does the scholarship offer? What is the monthly stipend?

  • How long is the scholarship for? What is the duration of payouts? 

  • When should I apply? When is the deadline for applications?

  • What is the application screening process? (document screening, interview, test)

  • How many applicants will be accepted? 

  • What is the ratio of applicants to grantees in the last year? 

The above are all the information covered in the table for each type of scholarship. We recommend reading it carefully, a good idea is to mark which scholarships appeal to you. 

Number of Japanese Local Governments / Related International Exchange Organisations Scholarships (as of February 2022)

Scholarship Types

Before Arrival

After Arrival

Doctorate / PhD






Professional Degree Course



Graduate Level Research Students






Undergraduate Auditing Student



Junior College



Technical College



Vocational School



Private University & Junior College:
Special Course for International Students



Other Japanese Language Educational Institutions
aside from Special Course for International Students



You may not be familiar with some of the educational institution terms we mentioned above. We recommend reading about the Japanese University System here, where we explain the different types of higher education institutions in Japan. We also explain the differences between national, public, and private universities. 

※ JASSO, “4. Scholarships from Local Governments, International Exchange Organizations, etc.

Search for School-Specific Scholarships, Tuition Waiver System, etc. 

Also provided by JASSO, is an excel sheet that compiles the available scholarships and tuition waiver systems by school names: [Excel]. It is useful for looking up whether a particular school has any scholarships available for international students. 

For the latest scholarship information, it is recommended to search the individual school’s website or contact the scholarship department directly. 

Scholarships for Studying Japanese in Japan

When it comes to study in Japan scholarships, the image of scholarships for studies at universities and graduate schools is a strong one. However, there are also scholarships available for international students in Japanese Language Schools and in Special Courses for International Students at universities and junior colleges. 

You may be familiar with Japanese Language Schools, but what is a “Special Courses for International Students” offered by universities and junior colleges? It is a special course targeted at international students to provide basic functional education. The syllables usually cover Japanese language, culture, and affairs. Read more about it here including when and how to apply for the course.

Japanese Language Educational Institutions (日本語教育機関) Scholarships

  • (Japan Government) JASSO’s Monbukagakusho Honors Scholarship for Privately-Financed International Students (文部科学省外国人留学生学習奨励費): For those with excellent academic results great character but have financial difficulties (average funding received, excluding for tuition fees, is less than 90,000 yen per month; or if have dependents in Japan, annual income is less than 5 million yen), have a status of residence of “student”, and not a recipient of other scholarships, then you can receive scholarship money of 30,000 yen per month, subject to the condition that you will advance studies at a university, etc. educational institution in the following year.

  • (Public Interest Incorporated Foundation) Toyama International Center Toyama Prefecture International Exchange Scholarship (とやま国際センター 富山県国際交流奨学金)): Residents of Toyama Prefecture that are enrolled in a Japanese language educational institution, and plan to further studies in a university or graduate school, can apply for this scholarship to receive a stipend of 3,000 yen per month for a year. 

  • (Public Interest Incorporated Foundation) Takayama International Education Foundation Scholarships (髙山国際教育財団 髙山奨学金): Students enrolled in listed Japanese language schools can apply within 1 year and 1 month from arrival in Japan to receive 110,000 yen per month for a year (as of 2022). 

  • (NPO) LSH Asia Scholarship Foundation LSH Asia Scholarship (アジア奨学会LSHアジア奨学金): Students enrolled in Japanese language educational institutions that are designated by public notice by the Ministry of Justice can apply, and sit for a written examination, to receive 20,000 yen per month for 5 months (as of 2022). 

Special Course for International Students (留学生別科) Scholarships

  • (Public Interest Incorporated Foundation) Ishikawa Prefecture Privately Funded International Student Scholarship (石川県私費外国人留学生 奨学金): For students enrolled in a school in Ishikawa Prefecture, submit applications within 1 year of admission into school to receive. 20,000 yen per month for a year. 

  • (Public Interest Incorporated Foundation) Kurume Bureau of Tourism and International Exchange Kurume Encouragement Subsidy for Foreign Students (久留米留学生奨励金): For students studying Japanese in a school in Fukuoka Prefecture’s Kurume City, can receive 10,000 yen a year. Applications submitted through individual schools

  • (Public Interest Incorporated Foundation) Kobe Student Youth Center Rokko Scholarship Fund (六甲奨学基金): For international students from Asian countries that are enrolled in a school in the Hyogo Prefecture, and are not receiving other scholarships, can receive 50,000 yen per month for a year. 

  • (Public Interest Incorporated Foundation) International Human Resource Network Organisation Foundation (IHNO) Scholarship Programme (IHNO奨学金): International students attending partner schools (inquire to find out what schools) who adhere to the “rules for activity other than that permitted under the status of residence previously granted”, can apply to receive up to 30,000 yen per month for 2 years. 

If there is a scholarship you are interested in, make sure to check the official website for the latest updated details, paying attention to eligibility conditions and application timelines. It is also recommended to inquire with the school you are attending at the beginning of school admissions. 

To Summarise

Japanese scholarships can be difficult to understand at a glance. Here’s a quick summary of what we covered in this article:

  1. For local Japanese students and certain status of residence (permanent residents and their families, spouse/child of Japanese national, etc.), available scholarships include “scholarship loans” which need to be repaid, and “beneficiary scholarships” which do not need to be repaid. 

  2. Major scholarship providers are the Japanese government MEXT, JASSO, local governments, and private organisations.

  3. Different scholarships have different eligibility criteria, application timelines, and application procedures so check each carefully.

  4. There are scholarships for pretty much everything including universities, graduate schools, technical colleges, junior colleges, vocational schools, and even Japanese language schools. 

We hope this article comes in useful when researching about studying abroad in Japan. You might just end up studying in Japan for free! We recommend reading our other articles about studying in Japan, particularly about the university system, Japanese language educational institutions, study in Japan costs, and preparing to study in Japan. 


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