Tokyo is a dream destination for many international students to study at because of its attractive mix of traditional Japanese culture and modernity. Let’s discover what the study abroad opportunities in Tokyo are!

Japanese Language Schools 

In recent years, there has been an influx in the number of Japanese language schools that has opened in Tokyo as a response to the surge of demand in people who want to acquire Japanese skills. Courses at language schools can range from six months to two years, depending on the program you choose to be enrolled in. Because of the short length of the program,  Japanese language schools generally tend to be quite intense and fast-paced.

Depending on the school, you can choose the study environment and the level of proficiency required that is suitable for you at the time of enrollment. Some schools will help you raise your Japanese level quickly, but you have to prepare yourself to do a lot of homework and self-study every day. On the other hand, schools with a slower pace of teaching will give you more in-class time to practice with your communication skills and require less commitment from you out of the lesson.

While all schools have the general programs to help you with academic Japanese training, you can also opt for more specialized classes such as applying for universities, honing your business Japanese skills to use in the workplace, and drilling practice problems in order to pass the N1 JLPT Exam.

Vocational Schools 

Vocational schools are relatively attractive to international students as it is a fast track to become employable in Japan in fields that require specialized training and skills. An appealing feature of vocational schools is that they only require an N2 certificate and a high school diploma for you to enroll. You only need to be enrolled in a vocational school for typically one to two years to graduate and start looking for a job.

A couple of well-known vocational schools in Tokyo include Bunka Fashion College, Toho Gakuen (for film training, sound technology, and media training), Human Academy (fashion, hair, make-up, manga, and games), Hattori Nutrition College (nutrition, culinary,  culinary high-tech business administration, and culinary patisserie and boulangerie), and The Tokyo College of Sushi and Washoku (washoku cuisine and sushi making).

Besides the above, other vocational schools also offer courses in a wide range of fields, from IT, tourism, automobile, etc. Many schools provide the necessary preparatory education for those who wish to enter higher educational institutes, as well as advocate integrated education from vocational training to job recruiting for those who wish to obtain a job.

Universities 

For high-performing students, being enrolled at a university in Tokyo is a goal to aim at. Many students choose to take the Japanese track by acquiring and improving their Japanese skills at Japanese language schools first, before taking the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU) in order to get into Japanese universities. 

However, studying at Japanese universities does not necessarily require Japanese abilities at the time of enrollment. With the Global 30 Program launched by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in which selected top-tier Japanese universities established their English-taught undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs, the doors to Japanese universities for English-speaking universities have become significantly more open. 

Several selected top-tier Japanese universities for the Global 30 Program that are located in Tokyo include the University of Tokyo, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, and The Tokyo University of the Arts as national universities, and Keio University, Waseda University, Sophia University, etc. as private universities. English-led education at Japanese universities has been making great progress through the expansion and continuous improvement of quality. For instance, The University of Tokyo currently provides over 30 degree programs in English in the following 10 graduate schools: Economics, Arts and Sciences, Science, Engineering, Agricultural and Life Sciences, Medicine, Frontier Sciences, Information Science and Technology, Interdisciplinary Information Studies, and Public Policy. 


In order to attract international students, many universities offer scholarships and financial aid grants in the form of tuition fee exemption or monthly stipend to cover living expenses for talented students with financial difficulties. You can apply for these scholarships both before and after enrollment.

Study Abroad Exchange Programs and Summer School

If you are currently enrolled in an institution abroad and are interested in experiencing the campus life in Tokyo, you can opt for exchange programs and summer programs. Japanese universities with English-taught programs tend to have partner universities from around the world, so you should contact your home university if your school offers exchange programs to Japan. Normally, a study abroad exchange program lasts one to two semesters (four to eight months), and you will be able to take classes as a full-time student in the exchange school.


Otherwise, you can also choose to be enrolled in summer programs that generally last for a few weeks. For example, Sophia University offers Summer Session in East Asian Studies and Summer Session in Japanese Language that lasts two weeks between June 14 and July 2, and Keio University offers the Keio Summer Program for two months of June and July. This is a great opportunity for students who want to avoid disrupting their studies at their home universities and make the most out of their summer break.

Conclusion 

“If there’s a will, there’s a way” — the saying cannot be truer for those who dream of studying in Japan and are committed to working hard to realize their goals. With many types of programs and schools open for international students, it is up to you to design your future and choose a path that will be most suitable for your academic and professional goals. 

References 

GaijinPot Blog. “6 Things to Look for When Choosing a Japanese Language School.” GaijinPot Blog, 20 Nov. 2019, https://blog.gaijinpot.com/6-things-to-look-for-when-choosing-a-japanese-language-school/.

“Project for Establishing Network for Internationalization – Global 30 -”.  Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, 2011, https://www.mext.go.jp/component/a_menu/education/detail/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2017/03/30/1383779_06.pdf. Print.

“Japanese Vocational Schools: Studying in Tokyo.” BondLingo Learn Japanese, 27 Aug. 2019, https://bondlingo.tv/blog/japanese-vocational-schools-studying-in-tokyo/.

“Short-Term Programs.” Keio University, www.keio.ac.jp/en/academics/short-term/.