Living In Japan – Why Not?

Sure, Japan is an amazing country for traveling. Japanese unique culture, cherry blossoms, sushi and the never-ending nightlife of Tokyo fascinate thousands of visitors around the world. If you’re a truly Japan lover, there must be some times in life when you find yourself considering living in Japan. Is Japan a good place to live? This article will draw up a picture of Japanese life and provide tips for those curious about life in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Pros and cons of living in Japan

Why living in Japan

Japan is home to a unique and vibrant culture, along with stunningly natural landscapes and exciting, ultra-modern cities. Above all, this Asian country is a wonderful place to live in.


Japan is on list of the safest countries in the world. Japan has exceptionally low crime rates, with ranking last in the number of victims of crime per capita. Felony rate has been kept under 5% and robbery 0.0% for years. It is generally safe to walk alone at night and to travel on public transport.

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Compared to other cities, mainly in America, Tokyo is surprisingly safe

Organized society

Japan has gained a reputation for being is a strongly organized society, especially about orderliness and cleanliness. Things are kept spic-and-span everywhere and trash is barely seen on any street though there are hardly any garbage bins and street cleaners.

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It’s difficult to find trash boxes in the streets because people are encouraged to take the garbage back home

Japanese courteousness and politeness have also become a legend. They have been educated to have a good manner through generations. Traveling by the Japanese subway will bring you a completely different feeling compared to American public transport, where curt behavior is the norm. 

Educational system 

There are over 7000 universities in Japan, 10 of them have a position in the top 200 universities in the world. The top leading university in Japan, University of Tokyo, offers learners hundreds of study programs in essentially all academic fields at various levels.

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The University of Tokyo is the first national university in Japan

Each year, Japan welcomes a huge number of international students to its high schools, universities and institutions. The country attempts to create a rich learning environment so that scholars have varied opportunities to enrich their knowledge and develop professional skills. 

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The Nakajima Library at Akita International University is one of the most beautiful libraries in Japan


Japan has a highly developed physical infrastructure of roads, highways, railways, subways, airports, harbors, warehouses and telecommunications for distribution of all types of goods and services. 

Transportation in Japan is modern and highly complex

Japanese public transport, compared to American public transport at least,  is unbelievably awesome. Their subway and high-speed train systems are prompt, accurate, integrated and crazy massive. You don’t even need a car when living in Japan as moving by public transport is way more convenient.

Japan’s main islands of Honshu, Kyushu and Hokkaido are served by a network of high speed train lines that connect Tokyo with most of the country’s major cities

Life is full of artificial intelligence as well as future technologies. It’s normal to see a robot assisting staff in Japanese restaurants and hotels. 

At the 5-star Henn-na hotel in Nagasaki Prefecture, humanoid robots are responsible for welcoming customers in Japanese, while English-speaking guests will be greeted by a dinosaur robot

Humanoid robots take over the job of a waiter at a restaurant chain in Japan

In Japan’s high-tech cemetery which has more than 2,000 glass statues lit by neon lights, electronic ID cards are used to identify the location of people’s ashes.

Relatives scan the electronic card to locate the ashes of family members


Services in Japan are incredibly awesome. Japanese always place great emphasis on politeness and being kind to their customer to bring high-qualified services. You must love those clean and well-serviced convenience stores in Japan that virtually have everything you need.

New products and services are constantly supplied

Japan also has one of the world’s most advanced healthcare services. It’s listed in top 10 the best in the world. The US ranked 37th on the same list. In the Japanese private healthcare system, individuals are responsible for 30% of their own healthcare costs, while the government covers the remaining 70%. 

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A striking feature of the Japanese health service is its openness and flexibility


Japan has the oldest life expectancy in the world. Many of them live to 100 years old. What secret that causes Japanese people to live so long?

Well, it’s about their diet and lifestyle, something that you can learn to do as well if you live in Japan. People here eat fish instead of red meats to reduce cholesterol content into their bodies and prevent cardiovascular diseases. 

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In Japan, fish is the primary “meat” to eat

Americans drink tons of coffee while Japanese people drink tons of tea. Drinking tea every day apparently helps break up oils in the digestive system and body detox.

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Tea is the most common drink in Japan

They also prefer less milk and butter to avoid extra cholesterol and they choose soy products as an awesome alternative to meats, milk, and other “unhealthy” things. Foods are served in small plates that not only look good but also remind people not to overeat. 

Tofu, bean sprouts, and so on are used as an alternative source of proteins

What’s more, Japanese obviously have an obsession with cleanliness and there’s no doubt that cleanliness leads to healthiness. If you live in Japan, you soon find yourself adopting a clean lifestyle. And you find your quality of life improves. 


Is living in Japan really that great?

Work culture 

Of course, it depends on where you work and what you’re working on, but overall the work-life in Japan is much more stressful than in the typical Western countries. People stay at work for upwards of 15 hours every day and they are expected to take vacation days as few as possible along the year.

As a result, they usually find themselves exhausted after work and almost have no time to take care of their children. 

Language barrier 

Language is the main barrier to foreigners intending to live in Japan. According to the EF English Proficiency Index, the Japanese proficiency index is only 35/72 countries. Many foreign visitors have to admit that the people here are not really good at English though the country is one of the world’s major economies. Additionally, 70% of foreigners residing in Japan find themselves struggling in communication with local guys. 

One of the main reasons is that for Japanese people, being able to speak English is somehow unnecessary. They translate everything into Japanese, keep making new words in daily life and even at the research level. It’s nice if people speak English but if they don’t, that’s still fine.


No matter how long you live in Japan, people will never see you as a Japanese which means they don’t treat you in a normal way.

“People have a rejection of American living in Japan. Older Japanese folk will click their tongues whenever they see Americans walk around in Japan.” 

“It’s weird that people try to reply to me in English even when I ask a question in Japanese.”

Being isolated and not making friends when living in Japan may lead you to disappointment and depression.


Japan is high on the list of most expensive countries in the world. In Japan’s economic centers, a person’s monthly cost comes into $1200–$1,800. Obviously it would be cheaper if you choose to stay in rural areas or small cities. Also, expect that there’re a lot of extra costs arising when moving there. 

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The average monthly net salary in Tokyo is nearly $3000 while a single person’s monthly cost of living would be almost $1200 without rent

How to live in Japan

So you see Japanese daily life has some striking differences, both good and bad. Here are some tips for you to make life in Japan easier.

  1. Save cost

Living in Japan is not always expensive and here is the trick. Having Japanese home-packed meal (also known as Bento) will save your pocket. A Bento meal is sold around the price of 500 yen while eating in fast-food restaurants or small shops will cost you 800-1000 yen. If you want to cook yourself and love cooking with a lot of fresh vegetables, then it can be quite expensive.

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There’s a diverse selection that caters to pretty much every taste of Bento

Also, moving by public transport is supper convenient and not too expensive. The price depends on the distance, but you roughly pay 200 Yen wherever you want to go within Tokyo.

  1. Learn some Japanese

If you’re living in Japan for some time, try to learn the common vocabulary in public place or some basic workplace phrases. That makes your life easier and may help you survive in emergency cases.

If that’s too much for you, at least try to remember the characters for kanji number as that’s used in the menu of most Japanese restaurants and stores.

how to live in japan

The most common counting system is the Sino-Japanese numbers

  1. Mind your manners

There’s a bunch of manners to follow in a public area and here are some things you should mind yourself in order not to be rude or seen as rude:

  • Say “excuse me”, “thank you” and “sorry” in Japanese and say it more than natural. 
  • Don’t ever blow your nose in public, that’s considered very uncleanly and unhealthy.
  • Stand on the proper side of the escalator. It’s weird but Tokyo people stand on the left while in Osaka, people stand on the right.
  • This one is hard but still possible, learn to classify garbages into not 2 but 10 different types.

You will realize more when you’re living there on your own.


And there you have it, some of the things to bear in mind when living in Japan. It’s not perfect as you may imagine so prepare well before packing up and moving there. 

Is there anything else you want to know about traveling in Japan? Let us know in the comments!

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.