9 Reasons to Study Abroad in Japan

Japan is an increasingly popular destination for study abroad students. Discover nine reasons why you should study abroad in Japan.

portrait of Ellery Weil
by Ellery Weil

Updated March 23, 2022

Edited by Tyler Epps
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9 Reasons to Study Abroad in Japan


Studying abroad can be a great opportunity for students to expand their horizons, enhance their skills, and gain valuable academic and professional connections. Japan is an increasingly popular destination for students looking for a mixture of enriching cultural experiences and top-notch academics.

According to the University of Tsukuba, over 150,000 international students travel to Japan to study every year. Check out these nine reasons why Japan is a great place to study.

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1. You Get to Experience Japanese Culture

One of the most exciting things about studying abroad in Japan is the chance to experience Japanese culture firsthand. Thanks to the growing popularity of Japanese entertainment — including Pokémon, Studio Ghibli films, and various anime series — many U.S. students are interested in Japanese culture more broadly.

However, watching television shows and playing games are no substitute for experiencing Japan in person. Studying in Japan provides students with an opportunity to immerse themselves in Japanese culture.

2. You'll Receive a High-Quality Education

Japan's education system is hard to beat — the country ranks first on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's Better Life Index for education. Japanese universities are also some of the best in the world. Institutions like the University of Tokyo and Hokkaido University offer top-notch academics and diverse extracurricular opportunities.

Students studying abroad in Japan usually receive top-level instruction during their time in the country. Most universities offer English-language classes. Studying abroad in Japan means there's no need to choose between enriching cultural experiences and academic quality — you can have both.

3. You Can Learn Japanese in an Immersive Environment

Japanese is a valuable language to learn. Learning Japanese can expand your cultural opportunities and aid you in entering the world of business. Many students study Japanese in college for these reasons or take advantage of opportunities to learn Japanese online.

Studying abroad in Japan can take your Japanese language learning to the next level. You'll be in a total immersion environment in Japan, with native speakers as neighbors and classmates. Learning a language in an immersive environment can improve your Japanese vocabulary and fluency and also build your confidence in speaking Japanese in casual, day-to-day settings.

4. You Can Eat Authentic Japanese Cuisine

Good news for food lovers: Studying abroad in Japan will give you access to tasty authentic Japanese cuisine. Japan boasts a diverse (and delicious) culinary tradition, including dishes already popular in America like sushi, ramen, mochi, and Japanese-style curries and regional specialties.

Authentic Japanese food is also great for health-conscious students. Japanese cuisine emphasizes fresh seafood and produce, and steaming and grilling, rather than frying. In Japan, you can eat healthily and eat well.

5. You Can Explore Unique Natural Environments

Roughly the size of California, Japan is a country of tremendous natural beauty and diversity. As an island nation, Japan has an extensive coastline surrounded by smaller islands, which students can visit on day trips or weekend getaways.

If you're looking for a location further inland, Japan is also home to extensive mountain ranges, including Mount Fuji. The city of Nagano, which hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics, houses multiple colleges and universities. And in the mountains, visitors can find famous natural hot springs enjoyed by humans and snow monkeys alike.

6. Japan Is a Safe and Travel-Friendly Country

Safety comes first, especially in an unfamiliar country. Japan is often ranked as one of the safest places to study abroad. The country boasts low crime rates and some of the safest urban centers in the world.

If you're looking to get out of the city, you're in luck: Travel is easy in Japan. With a large and highly efficient high-speed rail system complete with student discounts, there's no need to rent a car or purchase flights. Students can even ride the famous shinkansen, or bullet train, one of the fastest trains in the world.

7. Tuition Costs May Be Lower in Japan

The cost of college is a key concern for many students in the United States. But you might be able to get a bargain if you choose to study abroad in Japan.

According to the Japan Student Services Organization, tuition fees for international students in Japan are typically under $10,000 per year, which is significantly lower than those for most U.S. institutions.

However, students hoping to study abroad in Japan will have to budget for their visas, flights, and other expenses. Learners should also consider how location impacts cost. The cost of living if you're studying in Tokyo or another big city is likely to be higher than if you're studying at a more remote school.

8. There Are Plenty of Programs to Choose From

There are many reasons why Japan is one of the most popular study abroad destinations outside Europe for Americans. However, that popularity can be a benefit in and of itself. With so many students interested in studying in Japan, you'll likely have plenty of programs to choose from.

Many Japanese universities actively recruit international students. Highly regarded destinations include the Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies, with its waterside location and emphasis on languages. The competitive Sophia University, located in Tokyo, offers classes in English to a majority-Japanese student body.

9. Studying in Japan Can Lead to Job Opportunities

Studying in Japan is a valuable and unique cultural experience. It can also be a stepping stone to great professional opportunities. Japan has one of the largest developed economies on Earth. Japanese companies like Sony, Toyota, and Nintendo have worldwide spheres of influence and offices in the United States and Europe.

Studying in Japan may allow you to make invaluable connections and develop in-demand language skills. Students in the country can access many internship, job, and career opportunities, both in Japan and worldwide.

Frequently Asked Questions About Studying Abroad in Japan

How much does it cost to study abroad in Japan?

Tuition at Japanese universities is often significantly less expensive than at comparable American institutions. Tuition for international students is generally less than $10,000 per year. The cost of living in Japan, especially in larger cities like Tokyo, can be high, and flights and visas can add additional expenses.

While in Japan, healthcare will be relatively inexpensive, as the government heavily subsidizes it. Students can also take advantage of generous student discounts for travel and leisure activities, including visiting Tokyo Disneyland.

Where should I study abroad in Japan?

There are many programs for students to choose from in Japan. Many universities, including those in the heart of Tokyo, offer classes in English, which can benefit students who are not yet fluent in Japanese. Check with your home institution to see whether it has affiliations with a particular Japanese school or program. Existing connections can make the application process easier to manage.

What are the requirements to study abroad in Japan?

Students will need to be accepted into a program to study abroad in Japan, either through their home institution or by applying directly to a Japanese university. Students may need a certain GPA to qualify to study abroad and write a special application essay.

International learners will also need a visa from the Japanese government, up-to-date vaccinations, and means of supporting themselves financially while they're in Japan.

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