Living In Japan As A Foreigner – The Goods And Not-So-Goods

Japan is one of the best countries to live in the world because it’s not only safe, clean and beautiful but it also features high-quality products and perfect services, which enables high living standards. Therefore, it’s been always the desired country for foreigners. However, living in Japan as a foreigner also has its goods and not-so-goods.

The Goods Of Living In Japan As A Foreigner

1. Japan Is A Safe Country To Live

Japan is a safe country since the crimes committed do not endanger anyone’s life. If you search for crime rates in Japan, you will see that this country has a relatively low rate of crimes in comparison with other countries. The murder rate in Japan was among the lowest in the world. Besides, it also has the world’s lowest intentional homicide rate of 0.3 per 100,000 people according to UNODC statistics from 2016. Thus, there is little likelihood of becoming a victim of a serious or violent crime when living in Japan as a foreigner. Whatever city you visit, you will find it to be clean, with people who are courteous and follow the rules. In Japan, you will even find people sleeping on trains and women wandering alone at night, which gives you the impression that “Japan is an extremely safe country”.

living in Japan as a foreigner

As Japan is a safe country, there is little likelihood of becoming a victim of a serious or violent crime when living in Japan as a foreigner.

2. With Its Spectacular Nature, There’s A Lot For You To Explore In Japan

Many visitors to Japan limit their sightseeing to the densely populated areas of the country, such as Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima. As a result, many people return home with the impression that Japan is one big, densely crowded metropolis. In fact, forested mountains and hills cover more than two-thirds of Japan, compared to less than ten percent of residential and industrial territory.

The Japanese archipelago covers nearly 3000 kilometers from north to south, allowing tourists to see a diverse range of natural wonders from the drift ice in the waters off Hokkaido to the mangrove jungles in Okinawa. In between, there are magnificent volcanoes, breathtaking coastlines, and enormous forests inhabited by monkeys, bears, deer, cranes, and other species. What’s more, Japan has places of exceptional natural beauty conserved as national parks and world heritage sites.

Thus, if you are a nature lover, Japan is definitely a great place for you to live in.

Japan’s spectacular nature will add to the pleasure of living in Japan as a foreigner.

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3. You Only Need English To Live Comfortably In Japan

Many foreigners have been able to live comfortably in Japan for several years, thanks in large part to the fact that they are native or near-native English speakers and can use this to their advantage by teaching English.

If you are a native English speaker or bilingual (with fluent English as one of the languages), your prospects of living and working in Japan as an English teacher are substantially enhanced, provided you have a basic college education. Many foreigners who have lived in Japan for several years have worked only in English.

However, in order to truly experience Japan, it is also necessary to learn the Japanese language to communicate with Japanese people and gain a deeper understanding of their culture.

living in Japan as a foreigner

Many foreigners have been able to live comfortably in Japan by teaching English.

4. You May Easily Meet Helpful People In Japan

The Japanese have a reputation for being extremely helpful. Let’s say you’re out and about in Kyushu one day. Consider the city of Beppu. You’re looking for an onsen (hot spring) that isn’t too far away from where you are. If you ask a random Japanese person on the street, they will not only show you where it is on Google Maps but will also often take you there. Such encounters add to the delight of living in Japan as a foreigner. In major cities like Tokyo, where everyone is busy and rushing to get somewhere, you might expect less friendly assistance. Remember that you may find helpful people anywhere, and you can also find unfriendly individuals, but Japan has a large percentage of people wanting to help.

Japan has a large percentage of people wanting to help, so you may easily get assistance when necessary.

5. You Can Conveniently Get Anywhere Thanks To Japan’s Superb Public Transportation

Japan offers outstanding public transportation whether going by shinkansen, airline, express train, highway bus, city bus, or ferry.

The country’s train, bus, and subway systems are efficient and punctual, as well as extremely safe when compared to other countries.

Therefore, you will not find it difficult to get around in Japan when living here as a foreigner.

Thanks to the country’s superb public transportation, you will not find it difficult to get around in Japan when living here as a foreigner.

The Not-So-Goods Of Living In Japan As A Foreigner

1. Without Fluent Japanese, Your Job Opportunities Are Extremely Limited

While it is true that you can live and work in Japan using just your fluent English, unless you are extremely fortunate, you will be limited to English teaching in the educational system.

Most companies in Japan, whether in the media, engineering, science or other fields, require at the very least a certificate certifying that you are JLPT N2 proficient (Level 2 in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, the second hardest Japanese language test in existence.)

The JLPT N2 is a challenging test to pass, but if you do, your Japanese language skills will be considered business level.

living in Japan as a foreigner

Without Fluent Japanese, you will be limited to English teaching in Japan.

2. You May Get Shocked With The Japanese Workaholic Culture

When working in Japan, you may expect to finish work by 10 pm. It’s so late, right? Sometimes, you can finish work earlier and have nothing to do, you may dare not go home because your boss and seniors are still working. It’s considered a shame to let them know you are “free” and it’s also too shameful for the boss and seniors to let their staffs know they are “free”. Well, this kind of workaholic culture may shock and tire you at first when you have to get used to working for such long hours. However, everything will be fine when you’re already used to it!

The Japanese workaholic culture may shock and tire you at first when you have to get used to working for such long hours.

3. Paperwork In Japan May Annoy You

The reality is that if you live in Japan as a foreigner, you’ll have to get used to it. That is you’ll need to fill out forms or deal with bureaucracy.

It’s not as simple as “I like that Ferrari let me pay and take it home today” if you want to buy a car. No, no, you must go to the police station, bringing your stamp (inkan) with you so that they can inspect your parking area and ensure that it is appropriate. You’ll also need to get a parking spot from your landlord and complete dozens of new additional paperwork. Plus there’s the time it takes to process everything. If you don’t mind filling in forms and dealing with bureaucracy, you’ll be alright.

Other examples include relocating and needing to receive a moving out certificate from your local city office, which you must then submit to your new municipal office when registering as a local resident. You’d think getting that moving-out certificate was unnecessary, but Japan loves paperwork.

living in Japan as a foreigner

You may get annoyed with paperwork in Japan, but the Japanese do love it.

The video below may help you better understand life in Japan. Check it out!

Conclusion

Hopefully, you’ve found out what’s it like living in Japan as a foreigner after reading this blog. If you can think of any good and not-so-good points of living in the Land of the Rising Sun, feel free to share!

About Yuu Sato

Yuu Hiasa has been working in hospitality industry since 2003. In the past, he used to work as a tour guide and now he is running his business of supplying comfortable accommodations in Japan. Thanks to this experience and his passion for writing blog, the articles by him provides awesome tips and things to do when you are traveling in the country of cherry blossoms.