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Study in Japan

An incredibly diverse country with a high quality education system, Japan is a great choice for an international student. As well as being well developed in the fields of technology and education, it is also a beautiful and vibrant country. The Japanese government is extremely keen to attract more international students, so you will be more than welcome.

Why study in Japan

Japan has an increasingly fast-paced economy, and its social system has advanced at an incredible rate because of this. The educational system is relatively new and streamlined, and you will get a modern and relevant higher education. The government has set a target of welcoming 300,000 international students by 2020. This has led to the universities making the application process much easier for students. You will find both public and private institutions in Japan, offering a wide range of courses in a variety of fields.

There are over 700 higher education institutions in Japan, with a large majority of them being private. You will find 15 of Japan’s institutions in the 2023 QS World University Rankings top 500. The highest ranked of these is the University of Tokyo, which is placed at 23rd. The next highest ranked is Kyoto University, which is placed at 36th. Of these 17 top 500 ranked institutions, 5 are also in the top 100.

The fantastic education system is complemented by the uber-modern cities and beautiful countryside. The deep traditions and fascinating history offer exploration opportunities to tourists and students alike, with the intrigue of the Japanese culture drawing people in. Japan is a multi-faceted country, with something to offer everyone.

About Japan

An island country in East Asia, Japan is located in the Pacific Ocean. Often called the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’, Japan is home to almost 126.7 million people, making it the 10th most populous country in the world. Japan has a highly skilled workforce, and has one of the most highly educated populations in the world. In 1947, after World War II, Japan renounced their right to declare war. Despite this, they maintain a modern military for self-defense and peacekeeping purposes. Citizens of Japan enjoy the highest life expectancy in the world, but has a low birthrate and aging population.

The country’s nearest neighbours are China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia. Japan is an archipelago, and is made up of almost 7,000 separate islands. The country is known for its beauty and modernity, with majestic landscapes, including Mount Fuji. The diverse geography of Japan means that the climate differs across the country. It experiences four distinct seasons, with warm summers and cool winters.

The culture of Japan is diverse, and a blend of ancient traditions with modern western values. There is a wide range of cultural expression, with Buddhist temples dating back many centuries and ancient wood prints. As well as this, Japan is known for its poetry, dance, music and unique animation styles all over the world.

Costs of studying and living in Japan

Japan uses the Yen (¥) as its currency.

Compared to the UK and USA, tuition fees at universities in Japan are very affordable. The private institutions are able to set their own fees, but the top universities do not necessarily charge the highest fees. On average, you should expect to pay between ¥500,000 and ¥1,000,000 per academic year. Along with your standard tuition fees, you will probably required to pay an admission fee and examination fees. The admission fee is usually around ¥280,000, and the examination fees are usually between ¥17,000 and ¥30,000. Because of the Japanese government’s aim to gain more international students, there are more scholarships available than ever, for example the Monbukagakusho scholarship. Contact your institution to see if you are eligible for any funding.

Living costs will depend on where you choose to stay in Japan. If you choose to live in a bigger city, you will pay more than a smaller city or a town. On average, you should budget for around ¥90,000 per month. This accounts for accommodation, groceries and travel. All international students are required to enrol in the National Health Insurance system. The cost of this is around ¥23,500 per year.

Student visas

International students who wish to study in Japan will need a student visa. In order to obtain a visa, you will first need a Certificate of Eligibility. This will be applied for on your behalf by the Japanese university you are accepted at. After this has been issued, you can apply for your visa at the Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country. To get a visa, you will need to provide the certificate of eligibility, a photocopy of the certificate, a valid passport, a completed application form and a recent passport sized photograph.

You will be able to work whilst you study, but you will need to get a ‘Permission to Engage in Activity Other than that Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted’. This can be applied for at an immigration bureau after you arrive in Japan. Generally, this allows you to work up to 28 hours per week during term-time and eight hours a day during official holiday periods.


Japan does not have any official languages, but the national language is Japanese.

Due to the aim of increasing international students, there are many courses being offered in English. If you choose to study in a non-native language, you may be required to provide evidence of proficiency. If you do not meet the required standards, it is common for you to be able to take a language course to help you improve.

Even if you do study in English, you should make an effort to learn as much of the Japanese language as possible. Communicating with the locals and other students is a perfect way to practice. Having knowledge of another language is a skill that looks great on your CV/resume!

Student cities in Japan


Officially Tokyo Metropolis, Tokyo has been the capital city of Japan since 1869. Home to 13.9 million people, Tokyo was called Edo until 1868. If Tokyo was a country, it would have the 8th largest economy in the world. Tokyo hosted the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the 2020 Summer Olympics and Summer Paralympics (which both happened in 2021 due to Coronavirus).

Located in the city you will find many universities, junior colleges and vocational schools. Included in these are the University of Tokyo, Tokyo Institute of Technology and Keio University. As well as this, the United Nations University is located in Tokyo, which is the academic and research department of the UN.

Common student questions

Can I study in Japan for free?

Higher education in Japan is not state-subsidised for international students, meaning that you will have to pay at least some tuition fees. Compared to the UK and USA, however, tuition fees in Japan are pleasantly affordable. You may also be able to access scholarships that decreases your tuition fees. We have more information about tuition fees to study in Japan in our Costs of Studying in Japan section.

Can international students study in Japan?

There are a growing number of courses being offered in English by Japanese universities, meaning that it is becoming more accessible to international students who do not speak Japanese. It is common to be offered free Japanese language courses alongside your studies, which would be a great opportunity for any student. If you will be staying in the country for more than 3 months, you will need to obtain a visa. We have more information about that in our Japanese Student Visas section.

Is Japan a good place to study as an international student?

Japan is known to be one of the safest countries in the world. International students will feel at home and safe when they choose to study and live abroad in Japan. Japanese society also places importance on education, meaning that their system is designed for success.

More information about studying in Japan

Capital City Tokyo
Currency JPY, Japanese Yen
Language(s) Japanese
Universities on StudyLink 7 universities
Major Student Cities Osaka, Nagoya

Search for courses in Japan

Degree courses you may be interested in studying in Japan

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Japan Studies Bachelor of International Liberal Arts

International College of Liberal Arts (iCLA) at Yamanashi Gakuin University Japan

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Global Science Course BSc, BSc (Hons) Nat Sci

The University of Tokyo Japan

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Msc in Finance MSc

Waseda Business School (WBS) Japan

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