Is Studying In Japan Expensive?: Cost Breakdown By A Current International Student

Studying abroad can be expensive, but believe it or not: it doesn’t have to be that way! Spending a few years abroad during your early years in life can teach you priceless experiences that cannot be learned otherwise. Knowing its benefits, you might be thinking about venturing out of your comfort zone into some foreign countries, then one major concern comes up into your mind: How am I going to afford it?

That is exactly where Japan comes in. Not only is Japan one of the safest countries in the world with high-quality education and stunning cities, but its universities are also much more affordable than you might think. As an international student who has been living in Japan for almost four years, let me break down the costs for you.


Total Average Cost Per Year: 

  • Tuition fees: 
    • Private Schools: around 1,000,000 yen – 2,000,000 yen per year
    • Public Schools: 535,800 yen 
  • Admission fees (paid once):
    • Private Schools: around 200,000 yen to 1,000,000 yen (depending on the faculty, expensive for medical schools)
    • Public Schools: 282,000 yen (national) to 393,618 (local public)
  • Monthly Expenses: from 72,000 yen to 100,000 yen per month (depending on the region)
    • Rent and Utilities: 23,000 yen to 43,000 yen for rent + 7,000 yen for utilities
    • Transportation: 5,000 yen
    • Food: 27,000 yen
    • Miscellaneous: 16,000 yen

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Tuition fees

The first thing we need to talk about is the tuition fees. Depending on whether the university is public or private, tuition fees can vary. According to JASSO, The tuition will range from 535,800JPY per year for public universities and up to a few million yen for private ones. To give you a concrete picture, I am currently studying at Sophia University, which costs around 1.5 million yen per year. Note that incoming freshmen also need to pay admission fees, which can range from 200,000 JPY to 400,000 JPY depending on each university.

In my case, it would have cost me over 1.7 million yen (around USD 14,000) for the first-year tuition fees alone. However, I paid very little with a very generous scholarship I received from the university. I received a full scholarship, which means I only had to pay entrance fees and some miscellaneous fees. In total, I paid less than 300,000 yen for school fees and entrance fees combined. For later years, I only had to pay a few thousand yen since the admission fees need to be paid only once. Throughout four years of college, I paid roughly less than 500,000 yen, which is a sweet deal as the college would have cost much more in Thailand, where I’m originally from.

In some universities, students who receive scholarships pay even less than me – some scholars even get monthly stipends! So if you’re thinking the numbers seem too high for you, don’t give up! Take a look at these scholarships you might have never heard about before that will allow you to study in Japan for free!

Rent and Utilities

Rent usually varies depending on where you live. In Tokyo, the average is 43,000 yen per month. From my experience, rent in the downtown Tokyo areas like Shinjuku, Shibuya, Minato, and Chuo can be pretty pricey – costing up to over 100,000 yen per month for a studio room. Depending on how old the property is, how close it is to train stations, and how popular the neighbourhood is, you are likely to pay very different prices. The great news is that you can also find cheaper options. Suburbs area such as Ogikubo, Sangenchaya, and Kichijoji are pretty popular due to their nice environment and affordable prices. Moreover, thanks to great public transport, some people even choose to leave in neighbouring prefectures such as Chiba, Saitama, or Kanagawa. This will make the rent even lower. If you can avoid city centres, you will be able to find affordable places that can cost as little as 30,000 yen per month. If you plan to go to universities in other prefectures, rent will be even cheaper, with the average of 23,000 yen per month in Shikoku. Some universities also offer affordable dormitory options for international students! Utilities can include electricity, gas, and water, all of which cost around 7,000 yen per month on average. Depending on how much you use your utilities, the cost can vary quite considerably. In my case, I generally pay 10,000 yen or less per month for all of the utilities.


This is where the trade-off comes in. If your university campus is located in the downtown area like mine, you will have to choose between expensive rent or higher transportation costs and longer commute time. If you are tight on budget, I would suggest that you do the latter: move to the suburb area and pay for the commuter pass. You can get massive discounts as a student for your commute to school. Therefore, you will save a lot on rent in the long run. On average, commute generally costs 5,000 yen per month. Note that the cost can go up the further you are living away from college.


If you cook a lot and plan your grocery shopping strategically, you will be able to save a lot of money. On average, students in Japan spend around 27,000 yen a month on food. From my experience, my food expenses can be as low as 20,000 yen or as high as 40,000 yen, depending on how often I go out in that particular month.


To keep things simple, I combine insurance&medical expenses, hobby&entertainment, and miscellaneous expenses into one category. On average, students spend 16,000 yen a month for these three categories. In my case, I generally leave a little bigger budget for this category, with around 20,000 yen a month.


Studying abroad in Japan can cost as little as 1.7 million yen or as much as 2-3 million yen per year. Compared to higher education in countries such as the US, the UK, and Australia, this is considered very affordable. However, if you are looking for ways to minimize college expenses, there are also so many scholarships to consider. Browse through Schoolynk or Take a look at these scholarships you might have never heard about that will allow you to study in Japan for free!

That’s it for this article. I hope it helped clarify some of your questions. If you have any other questions or stories to share, reach out to me via

Stay tuned for more!