Finally, the acceptance letter arrives, after the long and challenging process of applying for college. Now, the next chapter of your life is beginning – moving to Japan for university. Are you excited but at the same time quite nervous? Don’t worry, this article will talk about the most common troubles that international students encounter in Japan and how to solve them.

We did an anonymous online survey among international students from Waseda University, Keio University and The University of Tokyo to find out about the troubles they faced, and what they wish they had known before coming to Japan.

First Issue: Language Barrier

Among our participants, the most common grief was the language barrier. We had lots of respondents claiming that they wished they had learned basic Japanese before coming. English is not generally used, so learning basic Japanese before arriving would be very useful.

Make sure to check out the links below for more help with dealing with the language barrier!

Here are some helpful Japanese phrases for beginners.

Tips for studying Japanese here.

Click here for how to self study Japanese!

Second Issue: Setting Up A Bank Account

The next most common problem that international students encounter is setting up a bank account. Getting a bank card at one of the three biggest banks in Japan (Mizuho, Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui) is known to be quite difficult. If you are an incoming freshman student, it is likely that some Japanese banks will hold an account opening session at your school (including Japan Post Bank, Resona Bank etc). Also, Rakuten Bank is a popular option as you can apply for bank account, VISA/JCB card online and collect Rakuten points. The problem here is that foreigners are not allowed to open an account on their own. A cosigner of some level of reputable standing is required for security purposes. Schools are aware of this and they are obliged to help, just make sure you know where to get it!

Check out these tips for opening a bank account and getting a phone number!

10000 Japanese Yen note is the biggest note currently on the market.

Third Issue: Making Friends

The third, most common problem voted in is making friends. In Japan, joining student clubs or circles (サークル) are great ways to meet new people and socialize. If you want to get an insight about student clubs, click here.

Check out the stories below about joining student clubs in Japan!

Funk music club at Keio University here!

SILS Music club at Waseda University here!

Waseda University

What I Wish I Had Known Before Coming…

There were a variety of other responses of people who wanted to know more about the country of Japan in general before coming over. We have compiled the list of the most voted topics and linked some relevant articles from our team below!

  1. Part time job system
  2. Culture differences between the West and East
  3. The aging population
  4. Japanese drinking culture
  5. Bringing clothes for all seasons as Japanese summers tend to be hot and humid. The winters can feel quite cold.

Transitioning to life in Japan can be a challenge, but just prepare yourself for the transition! Your time spend in Japan will be unforgettable and just remember to work hard and have fun!