A lot of people travel to Japan and stay. The reasons include better job opportunities, popular culture, or simply for personal reasons including falling in love with the country and its people; regardless, here is a list of things you might want to know about living in Japan.
Reasons to live in Japan
Nobody can deny that Japan is one of the most amazing countries in the world. It is known for its beauty, being one of the most visited countries in the world. There are a lot of travel destinations, so many that even if you traveled the country for many years, there are still so many sights to see. Its culture is diverse, and it differs from region to region.
Health, Work, and Education
Japan's quality of healthcare is excellent, ranking first place in 2016. It is great in a sense that healthcare covers a lot of aspects. Kids can visit the family doctor, dentist, and optometrist for free. For adults, the trip to the doctor costs so little that your concern is if it is worth your time and the time of your doctor. You still need to pay 30 percent for treatment and medicine - the highest of such fees in the world. But the payments tend to be relatively low because of the tight lid on costs by the government. The costs also have a monthly limit so you would not pay beyond your means, preventing you from going bankrupt in case of unforeseen or chronic health illness.
※ Statistics Bureau of Japan, Statistics, "Statistical Handbook of Japan 2019," p.168-169
Education is governed at a national level so you can be ensured of the quality. The Japanese government, local governments, the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), private organizations, foundations, and companies in Japan and abroad grant scholarships for international students. There are also various student support services for higher education in Japan offering scholarship programs for short term specialized training courses. Student exchange support arrangements for a minimum of 8 days and a maximum of one year are extended for international students looking to study in Japan, thus promoting the exchange of foreign students.
Work is a factor that is considered great when wanting to live in Japan. Foreigners teach English lessons as a popular means to get by. Some who are qualified can even land a full-time teaching job at a university. And as Japan is accepting more and more foreigners into its workforce, the types of jobs foreigners can get have been greatly expanded from the IT industry to the medical field.
Developed facilities, roads, and others
Japan is one of the more developed countries in the world.
It boasts a highly developed train system that connects multiple cities & locations, which makes traveling a lot easier.
The roads are in good condition and can be repaired as fast as in one day.
Convenience stores are on another level. Some chains have free, reliable wi-fi connection, have access to banking, and you can even eat proper meals - you have it all in one building.
Waste management and processing are also superb. The roads and sidewalks are always clean; furthermore, waste is recycled effectively.
International Events, Anime events, E-sports
Enthusiasts of sporting events travel all across the globe to watch them live because the country is no stranger to hosting such events. Recently, NHK World-Japan reported the success of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, reaching an attendance of around 1.7 million or nearly 38,000 per game. Japan will also host the 2020 Summer Olympics (postponed to summer of 2021).
※ NHK World-Japan, Backstories, "Legacy of Japan's Rugby World Cup"
Everybody knows Japan is famous for its Anime; therefore, it is without a doubt that anime fans all over the world will love it if they could stay and watch their favorite shows live. A similar scenario can be seen in the world of E-sports, as many international players stay to play in Japan. It is quite known that Japan has some of the most high-tech PC cafes in the world.
Into Japan: Some things you need to know
The Japanese immigration system is strict for anyone who comes to the country. Foreigners, including returning residents, are being checked as soon as they enter Japan. Confirmation of identity is a must which includes fingerprinting and photographs being taken to counter terrorism and other illegal activities.
Foreigners, as long as they get approved for the appropriate visa, will automatically receive a status of residence when they enter Japan; "temporary visitors" for tourists and other kind of statuses for students, workers, and relatives of Japanese nationals and residents.
Proper Visa and other legal documents
You may only need a valid passport to enter Japan as a "temporary visitor." Visit the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan to see the list of countries that have a "general visa exemption agreement"; otherwise, obtaining a visa is required before entering the country. Short term studies at Japanese language schools are permitted to temporary visitors to engage; however, paid activities are not allowed. All foreign tourists are required to carry their passports with them at all times. If you have savings of over 30 million yen in addition to the conditions above, you and your spouse are eligible to stay in Japan from 6 months up to one year.
※ Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Consular Services, "Visa Exemptions for Diplomatic and Official Passport Holders"
※ Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Consular Services, "Specified visa: Designated activities (Long Stay for sightseeing and recreation)"
Quality of life, Cost of Living
You could say that the quality of life and cost of living in Japan are interrelated. Having a living above the standard means it will be costly to maintain that quality. In all honesty, living in Japan can be very expensive, depending on the location. Below is a breakdown of the average monthly consumption expenditure according to the 2019 Statistical Handbook by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan.
※ Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, "Statistical Handbook of Japan 2019" p. 144
The average rent is based on the location, space, and features your house has. House rental for one person is around 22,000 yen per month based on a reasonable amount, while the monthly expenditure for the bracket of 60 years old above is lower, around 18,000 per month. Of course, this is an average for the entire country, but living in a major city will raise the average by a significant amount.
An average person who eats out or buys food everyday would spend about 40,000 yen per month. Buying ingredients at convenience stores or local markets, and cooking yourself meals at home could cut costs to at least half per month.
Transportation and Communication
Owning a car in Japan may be considered a luxury, but if you live outside Tokyo or any major cities, it may be necessary. Transportation expenses will naturally be more costly, an average of 21,000 yen per month both for transportation and communication expenses. The age bracket for 35-59 years old is more expensive, rounding up to around 28,000 yen per month.
Utilities, Recreation and Others
Utilities are mostly gas, water, and electricity- the average cost of which is 12,000 yen per month. Culture and recreation, like watching movies and other activities, on average cost around 19,000 yen per month. Other expenses not mentioned above, based on average additional non-essential expenditures, add up to an extra 30,000 yen per month.
The Basics: Japanese Language and Etiquettes
If you want to live in a foreign country, it is a no brainer that you need to have some knowledge regarding the language. Basic conversational phrases for greetings, directions, travel, commute, food, lodging, and expenses are necessary if you want a simple stay. And as one would expect, a higher language ability means higher job prospects.
As a foreigner, you need to be cautious about your actions, especially when you're in a country that is bound by certain rules and traditions. Proper manners are valued highly in Japan. It is best that you set aside time to learn and study these etiquettes, in addition to the language. Some of the basic ones are:
Abiding the Rules- Japanese are very disciplined; they will follow set rules often with no questions asked.
Indoor Manners- remove outdoor shoes before entering the house; wear socks because it is impolite to be barefoot.
Japanese greeting- people greet each other by bowing. It can also be used to give thanks, an apology, or make a request or favor.
Waiting for everyone's order before eating and drinking
Smoke only in designated areas
Japanese commonly address each other by the last name and polite suffixes. Only close friends and children are usually addressed by their first name.
Into Japan: a Deeper Experience
If you want to dive deep into the Japanese experience, a great way to start is to improve your Japanese skills. The best way to connect to locals is by talking and interacting with them. A better understanding of one another occurs if you remove the language barrier.
Traveling is another great way to immerse yourself with Japan. Being culturally rich, festivals happen all year round across different regions of the country. Attending & being part of the festivities brings you closer to the community. Besides, traveling to different places means you encounter a lot more local Japanese people. More acquaintances give a better sense of belonging; while they may be shy at first, the Japanese are known for being kind, friendly, and hospitable.
Living in Japan, a Conclusion
Living in Japan is a great experience even after considering the daunting language barrier and high cost of living.The cost of living may be expensive, but the quality of life is excellent. You can learn Japanese through learning centers in Japan, which cuts-off the language barrier. It is also one of the safest countries in the world. There are tons of interesting things to do and lots of places to travel to. So what are you waiting for? All that's left is for you to enjoy the fascinating country of Japan!