Do you wonder what you should know before you come and study in Japan? There are so many things I wanted to know about Japan when I received my acceptance letter from Tohoku University. It was a bit overwhelming at first to imagine an independent life in Japan. Questions about scholarships, language, and social life made me worried at times. Now that I have experienced studying in Japan for the last four years, I have some great advice to share with you!

Study in Japan Tip 1: Knowing Japanese Is Helpful But Not Necessary

Just like in any foreign country, knowing the local language will definitely open up opportunities. Japan is no different, but many universities do not require Japanese as a prerequisite skill. I had absolutely zero prior knowledge of the Japanese language and I’ve already been in Japan for 4 years, living a happy student life. The student support section at my university has helped me a lot. I also got English support at ward offices and hospitals. So, focus on your area of study and trust your university! If you wish to know more about my Japanese learning journey, visit here!

Tohoku University's FGL program requires no prior knowledge of Japanese

Study in Japan Tip 2: Prioritize Your Area Of Study Over Living In Tokyo

A lot of students dream of studying in Japan and living in a big city like Tokyo under its neon lights. Tokyo is undoubtedly a happening metropolis with every day being a festival of life. Yet, Japan also has much to offer outside Tokyo. Apart from exploring real Japanese life, there are research institutions and centers of learning that do outstanding work. Do not restrict the world outside of Tokyo that Japan has to offer to you. You can read more about some of the outstanding universities in Japan here!

Tokyo is the bustling heart of Japan but prioritise your area of study
There are many other great cities other than Tokyo to consider when you study in Japan!

Study in Japan Tip 3: Scholarships Are Plenty but Competitive

Japan is really welcoming foreign students with open arms. There are several scholarships available to support your tuition and living expenses when you study in Japan. Many students in smaller cities in Japan also manage to save some of the scholarship money they get after all the expenses. However, most scholarships put a lot of weight on your grades per semester and recommendation letters. Club/circle activities or internship experiences make your application stronger. Since a selected number of foreign students enter Japan each year, the competition is high but it is far from impossible to achieve what you want, so keep trying! You can find more information about scholarships here!

Study in Japan 4: Income Is High But So Are Expenses

A common mistake I have seen many foreign students make when they study in Japan is being lured by the prospects of high salary. It is true that salaries are higher compared to the developing world but Japan is also expensive. A lot of fruit/vegetable produce is imported from other countries which makes greens expensive. The rent is also higher if you are living downtown in a big city. These considerations are important to prevent a potential debt trap in your home country. So, it is necessary that you work out your income and expenses as much as possible before you leave your home country. You can get a rough idea of the expenses here!.

Beware! Studying in Japan may be more expensive than you think

Study in Japan Tip 5: Life In Japan Will Be Shaped Outside The University

Universities are a great place for learning but when you spend some time studying in Japan, you will realize that a significant amount of learning will happen outside the campus. Joining a club/circle or a local community event will help you in understanding society and create opportunities for you to contribute to it. Be ready for life outside the university as it is explorative, fun, and a chance for a lifetime of learning.

Experiences are shaped outside the campus
Click here to read more about how I learned to lead a university life in Japan!


Great job for reading till the end! Keep these things in mind when you study in Japan, and at the end of the day, try not to worry too much. You will find that there is much you will learn from simply being in Japan. Enjoy and make the most of your adventures when you are studying in Japan!