Living a student life in Japan does not mean being confined in lecture halls and libraries all day long. Quite the opposite, college students here enjoy quite a bit of free time, as most Japanese universities are known for their less intensive study programs. Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean it’s too lax. Being a college student in Japan gives you opportunities to broaden your horizon in many ways, both inside and outside the classes. Here are a few things that you can do with the free time you have while you’re here in Japan as a college student.

School Club Activities

http://www.tohoku-gakuin.ac.jp/en/ex_curricular/
Different Japanese clubs and circles

Life as a college student in Japan would not be complete without all the fun club activities. At the beginning of the academic year, members of student clubs and circles will be handing out flyers to recruit new members during the orientation week. Each school has different kinds of club activities to offer, with categories ranging from sports, arts, to some random get-togethers. Sports clubs can range from popular sports such as soccer, rugby, and baseball to more adventurous options such as sailing, racing, and hiking. Art clubs can consist of different kinds of dancing, fine arts, music, and magic shows. Available club activities differ in each university, so look for the department of student affairs and check out if there is any club that might be interesting!

If you can’t find any club activity that interests you, teaming up with your friends to form a new club is also a great idea. The rules regarding club formation can differ in each university, but you will probably need at least five members and get permission from school officials.

Part-time Jobs

“Young Female Barista Laughing” by Jonatan Svensson Glad (Josve05a) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Want to learn what it’s like to work in Japan and get some extra cash? Getting a part-time job seems like a good idea. International students with “college student” visa are allowed to work for up to 28 hours per week, given that they have already been granted the “permission to engage in activity other than that permitted under the status of residence previously granted.” You can request for permission when you arrive in Japan, or apply directly at the immigration bureau.

Typical part-time jobs include working at restaurants, cafes, convenience stores, and hotels, teaching at language schools, conversation cafes, and tutoring at cram schools can also be a good option for those who want to make use of their language skills. To find part-time jobs in Japan, you can use popular services such as TownWork, Baitoru, or Mynavi Baito. Foreigner-friendly websites such as YOLO Japan is also a good option for beginners, although there might be fewer jobs to choose from. If you already have a place that you want to work in mind, you can also check out their websites or even ask directly if they’re recruiting!

Volunteering Activities

Agriculture Volunteering in Tokunoshima

Volunteering can be a great way to spend your free time in a meaningful way. There are various volunteering opportunities that you can find around Japan, ranging from suicide prevention, food support, to social innovation movement. You can also look for up-to-date volunteer opportunities via Facebook groups such as this one!

Internships

Foreigner Working in Japan

Internships can help you develop your skills while also gaining experience in an actual working environment. There are both paid and unpaid internship opportunities in various industries that you can choose from. You can check out some interesting internship opportunities here on Doorkel!

Not only that internship experience can help you grow professionally, but it also looks great on your CV. University students generally start looking for long-term internships in their second or third year. Since there are plenty of paid internships to aim for, you can also replace regular part-time jobs with paid internships that will benefit your career in the long run. If you’re comfortable with your Japanese, check out Career Baito for more internship opportunities. 

Apart from long-term internships, there are also some short-term internship programs that last only a few days. Most of the major companies usually offer this kind of internships in summer and winter for students who are interested. Although there isn’t much opportunity to do actual work, short-term internships can be a great way to learn more about the company and observe the working environment.

Some companies also offer unique internship programs such as Philip Morris’s INKOMPASS and Adecco’s CEO for One Month. You can check out the details and find the ones that might interest you!

Exploring Events in the City

Many big cities in Japan, especially Tokyo, always have events going on. Going to events can bring you closer to the locals and help you immerse yourself in the culture. Local meetups can range from fun social gatherings and cultural exchange to serious seminars and programming workshops. Meetup is a great way to discover events that are happening around the city. Searching for events near you on Facebook or Google maps can be great options as well.


Being a student in Japan can be a really fun and rewarding experience. Don’t let your time in Japan slip away without enjoying what life has to offer! Have fun exploring and see you soon in the next article!